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Mac bit my son this morning ***UPDATED***

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
We found a little senior Jack Russell (who may be part dachsund) last October. We tried to find his owners, but never did. He's been ours for 5 months now and we love him. Our vet says he's between 10 and 13 years old and he has an old back injury and arthritis that he takes a few medications for. He is a typical bossy little terrier, even at his advanced age. He doesn't like other dogs and he doesn't like little kids getting close to him (reaching for him or grabbing him or getting in his face.)

He nipped my son (who is 8) once or twice when we first brought him home, but my son learned not to grab at him, so it wasn't a problem. This morning my son touched his nose to Mac's nose while he was laying on the couch and Mac bit him. He bit him right under the eye, on the opposite side of the nose and by one nostril. There was a little bleeding and my son's nose is a little swollen. Here's a pic.

We are in the process of becoming foster parents to kids younger than our son. I don't think Mac is safe around young kids. I don't think pets are disposable, but my son's safety (and any future foster kids' safety) comes before my dog/s. I don't think it's safe to keep Mac and foster children. I don't even know that it's safe to keep Mac without fostering. I need help working this out in my mind.
post #2 of 48
mama.

I'm not the most knowledgeable person, but I think what your son did, was (to a dog and specifically to Mac) VERY rude. Right up in his face, probably with direct eye contact. I think for dogs, that's seen as either really rude or really aggressive. It sounds like Mac told him to back off in a normal terrier way (with his teeth).

If he's safe around younger kids? I think that answer is up to your family. Can you keep him 100% away from littler kids? And in doing so, with that greatly reduce the time he spends with his pack?

I don't think he sounds vicious or unstable. Maybe old and cranky.

Hopefully Joanna can give you some more thoughts.



~Julia
post #3 of 48
Thread Starter 
Mac has also nipped my friend's two kids (ages 2 and 5). They were grabbing at him though. And the nips didn't break the skin. I think what my son was doing was nuzzling Mac (which I sometimes do too--but I don't get bitten!) I don't know that I could keep Mac away from kids in my house--not all the time. He has a crate, but if you put him in it when people are over, he barks constantly. It wouldn't work if we had a younger child living here, because Mac would have to spend too much time away from everyone else.

I agree that he's not vicious--just cranky. Even more so when his pain isn't managed (we just switched his meds because the steroids made him pee in the house a lot, but the new meds aren't managing his pain as well.)
post #4 of 48
Well, get his pain under control better, and yes I agree that this is exactly what I would expect an elderly terrier to do when he is nuzzled by a kid. How directly are you communicating with your son? Is it "Don't do that, honey" or is it "That dog is going to bite you, and I'm not going to blame him." Be VERY direct. Tell your son exactly what not to do.

I would not worry about the fostering situation just yet. Get through your training and home visits, get the dog's pain under control. Don't borrow trouble or anticipate it before it's actually here.
post #5 of 48
I'm sorry your son got bit, but the question begs to be asked; where you when your son was "nuzzling" with a dog that has a history of biting? Children and dogs should never be alone together, and while it's nice to have a relatively reliable family dog who is good with kids, the reality is, is that if you cannot supervise the dogs and children 100% the time you need to have your house set up to safe guard both the dogs and the children. Gates, crates, fenced yard, play rooms, etc. If this is not an option in your house, then I would absolutely agree that you should consider rehoming a dog who has a bite history. Not only to prevent further injury to your kids, but to ensure that your elderly dog is not going to be harassed by children.

I also agree about seeing to his pain management, and I strongly recommend you hire a trainer/behaviorist in the interim. At the very least they can help you set up your house and put together a system of keeping everyone safe and comfortable.

And if rehoming is what you decide to do, I suggest you contact Russell Rescue. They take jack russells and russell crosses, and are experienced with the breed and would probably be the best way to ensure your dog does not end up euthanized.
post #6 of 48

It's hard

: I'm sorry to say that I went through this last year. My younger dog had a couple of very bad experiences with toddlers during one of his fear periods, and became terrified of them. I worked on it for 1.5 years, doing my best to keep my toddler and the dog separated. Eventually, in a moment of inattention (trying to get dinner on) DC hugged the dog. Terrified, he growled, and DD hung on, so he snapped. Bite inhibition held, and he barely touched her, but...

I was heartbroken, as I had had the dog 6 years. (He adores babies, older children, and adults...) After a lot of thought, I decided the situation wasn't fair to him, safe for DD, or for my then expected DS. I rehomed him, and the only one still sad is me...

Since your dog is older he might be more content than mine was to spend significant time crated - with the family, but not out. Your son is old enough to learn to deal with the dog, but the 2 and 5 year olds, and other younger kids aren't going to be 100% consistant, and need to be kept safe somehow.

Good luck.
post #7 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
I'm sorry your son got bit, but the question begs to be asked; where you when your son was "nuzzling" with a dog that has a history of biting?
I was sleeping. My husband was laying on the couch with the dog and my son. There was supervision.
post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReadingMama View Post
I was sleeping. My husband was laying on the couch with the dog and my son. There was supervision.
The dog was on the couch?
post #9 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aschmied View Post
Your son is old enough to learn to deal with the dog, but the 2 and 5 year olds, and other younger kids aren't going to be 100% consistant, and need to be kept safe somehow.

Good luck.
Thanks. I agree that my son is old enough to learn to deal with Mac. He has done fine with him since October. It's really the younger kids who we are planning to foster that I am concerned about. I'm concerned for their safety AND for Mac's safety. Before today, I was really only concerned about potential problems with Mac and kids 3 and under, but now I know that even older kids can get bit.

We have a crate, a baby gate, and a fenced in yard. Mac will bark constantly outside and in his crate if he's not sleeping in it. We haven't tried a baby gate, but since he barks when he's somewhere he doesn't want to be, I assume it'd be the same. Is it better to keep him and have him crated or in a room behind a baby gate much of the time (with a foster child in the house) or to find him a home where kids aren't an issue? Or should I follow through on my committment to rescuing Mac and only foster a child after Mac dies? That could be 3-5 years from now. (I volunteer at a DHS shelter for kids who are waiting for foster homes, so I know the need is great.)

Really the only reason I considered placing him is because there is an elderly couple across the street who lost their 17 year old chihuahua last year. When we first found Mac, the wife mentioned that she wished she could have Mac. We'd had him for a month by then, though, and we were attached to him. I hadn't considered placing him anywhere but with them if they are still interested. I don't know that they are though. The husband doesn't want to have to deal with another pet.

About pain management: He's on Rimadyl and Promotion and fish oil supplements right now. Occassionally I give him a tramadol as well when he has a bad pain day. He did much better on prednisone and Promotion and tramadol for break through pain. But he started peeing in the house most days of the week--even on a tiny, every-other-day dose of the steroid. He's been off prednisone for about 2 weeks now and he still pees in the house a few times a week. It's when we're home too. He doesn't come and tell us he needs to go out sometimes. Other times he does. He doesn't have any leakage when he's resting or standing though, so he's not incontinent.

Sorry this post is so long. There is just a lot to consider. I want to meet everybody's needs, but sometimes Mac makes it hard. He isn't an easy rescue even if he's a lovable one. Here's the little turd himself...
post #10 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
The dog was on the couch?
Yes.
post #11 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thekimballs View Post
Well, get his pain under control better, and yes I agree that this is exactly what I would expect an elderly terrier to do when he is nuzzled by a kid. How directly are you communicating with your son? Is it "Don't do that, honey" or is it "That dog is going to bite you, and I'm not going to blame him." Be VERY direct. Tell your son exactly what not to do.

I would not worry about the fostering situation just yet. Get through your training and home visits, get the dog's pain under control. Don't borrow trouble or anticipate it before it's actually here.
But is it ethical to foster a child in a home with a dog that is known to bite? Even if I trust my son to have "learned his lesson" and I recommit to being vigilant about supervision, is it safe to bring a foster child into the situation?

Yes, I think pain was a part of it. He's snappier right now because his pain isn't managed. If we get him back on steroids (because that's what worked), what can we do about the peeing? A dog diaper?
post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReadingMama View Post
Yes.
I would not allow a dog who has a history of biting on the sofa, much less on the sofa WITH a child.

If he has separation anxiety issues you could speak to a behaviorist/vet about the used of an SSRI. You could use a play yard inside the living room/kitchen/bedroom. He will have more freedom then a crate, but won't have access to furniture or children. You could also use a citronella bark collar (which I use on one of my JRT's with great success) so he can spend more time outside or in a crate. You could also talk to Russell Rescue and find out about listing him on their site and getting him into a home experienced with Russells.

If this dog were in my house I absolutely would not allow him on the furniture. My child would know without a doubt that they absolutely cannot touch the dog without my express permission. If I didn't trust that my child would honor that wish, or was not old enough to understand, I would confine the dog and separate the children and deal with the barking and separation anxiety as a secondary issue.

You can use the play yard in close proximity to you, and then gradually move it out of the room. Look into clicker training and use a lot of positive reinforcement for quiet, calm behavior. Make him aware that being silent and patient when you are busy is what will garnish rewards and attention, not barking. Remember that acknowledging the barking is still attention, even if it's negative.

If you cannot make that work, or are mistakingly of the belief that he has a the right to be comfortable on the sofa, please, rehome him with the elderly couple that do not children.

But I absolutely would not let that dog on the furniture
post #13 of 48
I've been wondering how Mac was doing and am so sorry to have seen this post.

My crazy old dog Harry may have done the same thing in that situation. I can cuddle with him but the kids do not. As for younger kids...In addition to baby gates, supervision, etc, I made Harry follow me EVERYWHERE. If I went to the bathroom, Harry went too. After finding Harry I spent a couple of years trying to get him to stop following me; once the kids arrived I put him back into the habit!

I would continue to work with the situation. Even my 'good' dog Rocky has snapped a couple of times now that he is getting old. My husband wanted to get rid of him but in both instances it was really my fault – bad positioning, not enough exercise, etc. I wasn’t as vigilant about Rocky because he had never snapped – but now I am with both dogs. I think the worrisome part is making sure your husband or a sitter is as aware and diligent as you.

I know how difficult this is. Many people would automatically give away the dog. I am glad you are considering all options trying to keep your child and Mac safe.

Regarding the couch…I’m guessing someone more experienced with dog behavior would have better advice but I had to stop allowing the dogs on my bed since we had the children (They were never on the other furniture, just the master bed.) One of the dogs, Rocky, is very vocal and ‘grumbled’ every time he was on the bed and one of the kids approached. In addition to frightening the children I was afraid I was placing Rocky in a more superior ‘position’ than the kids – not sure if this makes sense – and didn’t want it to cause a problem in the future.

I hope you can work this out for all of you.
post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReadingMama View Post
But is it ethical to foster a child in a home with a dog that is known to bite? Even if I trust my son to have "learned his lesson" and I recommit to being vigilant about supervision, is it safe to bring a foster child into the situation?
That is why you need to seek the professional services of a trainer/behaviorist. They will observe your life style, the dog, how he interacts with the family, the current set up you have, and translate his health issues to behavior issues, and help you assess whether or not it is indeed ethical or safe to have small children in a house with this dog. I don't think you are qualified to make that decision. You need professional help. It's unlikely that anyone online would be able to give any better insight. I don't know the lay out of your house. I don't know any of the training or behavior shaping you have done to help your dog cope with a change of environment or confinement. No one does. You need to hire someone who can see these things first hand. Someone who knows what to do once these things are observed.

Quote:
what can we do about the peeing? A dog diaper?
For male dogs they're called belly bands. They go around his mid section so he can't urinate. I think I missed the peeing issues.. is that just a house training issue, or a steroid issue? (I'm confused.. you mentioned steroids and peeing at the same time. : )
post #15 of 48
I was typing while North of 60 provided a more educated response to the couch issue...
post #16 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
That is why you need to seek the professional services of a trainer/behaviorist...
I'll have to figure out how to afford a behaviorist. The only one I know of in our town didn't return my call the time I called. Where do you find these people?

Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
For male dogs they're called belly bands. They go around his mid section so he can't urinate. I think I missed the peeing issues.. is that just a house training issue, or a steroid issue? (I'm confused.. you mentioned steroids and peeing at the same time. : )
The peeing in the house started after a couple months on the steriods. He drinks more because of the steroids and so he pees more often. That's the connection between the two. I had a urinalysis done to make sure it wasn't an infection and then the vet recommended trying something else for pain management. Not only has it not been as good for pain, even though it's Rimadyl, it also hasn't stopped the peeing in the house. He didn't pee in the house for the first couple of months we had him. Only after the steroids.
post #17 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbsam View Post
I've been wondering how Mac was doing and am so sorry to have seen this post.

My crazy old dog Harry may have done the same thing in that situation. I can cuddle with him but the kids do not...

Regarding the couch…I’m guessing someone more experienced with dog behavior would have better advice but I had to stop allowing the dogs on my bed since we had the children (They were never on the other furniture, just the master bed.) One of the dogs, Rocky, is very vocal and ‘grumbled’ every time he was on the bed and one of the kids approached. In addition to frightening the children I was afraid I was placing Rocky in a more superior ‘position’ than the kids – not sure if this makes sense – and didn’t want it to cause a problem in the future.

I hope you can work this out for all of you.
Thanks! I remember ol' crazy Harry from the senior dog thread! I guess I should really think of Mac as "my dog." It's difficult, but neither Mac nor my son are completely reliable in how they interact. Today was a combination of my son not remembering getting nipped several months ago for getting in Mac's face and Mac being crabbier than usual because his pain's not managed.

Not letting him on the couch anymore is a good idea, although I'll miss snuggling with Mac at night after my son goes to bed. How do I keep him from getting up there? I can't physically block him because he is really little (10 inches tall) and if he fell, he could hurt his back again. Maybe a spray bottle of water? How did you get Rocky to stay off the bed? Mac also has started hopping up on my son's bed at night. He likes to tunnel under the blankets and sleep at the end of the bed. I'll have to somehow keep him out of there. The dogs aren't allowed anywhere but the couch (and until recently, our other dog Raven was the only dog who slept on my son's bed.)
post #18 of 48
I think rehoming Mac would be a blessing for everyone he needs a nice elderly couple.

((hugs)) to you and your boy getting nipped is scary.

Normally I wouldnt suggesting rehoming unless it was a last resort but because of the short amount of time you have had him and the likelyhood he will just get grumpier I think rehoming is ideal
post #19 of 48
K, I'll ring in on the foster parenting bit then.

I live in Canada, so our rules might be different than yours. You're going to have to look into this so you'll find out regardless.

You cannot have a dog with a history of biting around foster children. No precautions even. A gate, crate or chain wil not be acceptable. If there is ANY level of danger to a child you will not be looked at twice for taking in kids.

I know this because I am a registered foster parent. I do respite work with a few families. We've been doing this work for over 15 years.

This is a hard situation and I wanted to wish you strength, love and compassion.
post #20 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReadingMama View Post
I'll have to figure out how to afford a behaviorist. The only one I know of in our town didn't return my call the time I called. Where do you find these people?
You could look at APDT for trainers. You have the option to search all trainers, or for CPDT trainers. I suggest you do not limit your search. Once you find the trainers in your area look for their services offered. There are lots of vets on their who specialize in behavior issues. More so then actual trainers. Though there a lot of good trainers out there who are not behaviorists but are still very knowledgeable. If you write a detailed email and send it to all the trainers in your area you can get to know your local trainers from their responses. Ask questions pertinent to your situation - have they dealt with senior dogs with pain issues? Have they dealt with dogs with a known bite history? How do they handle such problems? Will they do an in home consultation? Etc.

Quote:
The peeing in the house started after a couple months on the steroids. He drinks more because of the steroids and so he pees more often. That's the connection between the two. I had a urinalysis done to make sure it wasn't an infection and then the vet recommended trying something else for pain management. Not only has it not been as good for pain, even though it's Rimadyl, it also hasn't stopped the peeing in the house. He didn't pee in the house for the first couple of months we had him. Only after the steroids.
Right, sorry, it's late. I thought I was missing something, and I was truthfully too lazy to re-read. A belly could definitely help if he has to go back on steroids. You could also bell train him so you never miss a pee signal.
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