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#1 of 150 Old 04-20-2011, 08:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I tried this for the first time today and strangely don't feel guilty, but wanted to get other people's reactions to it (don't flame me!)

We have a back yard that is completely fenced with a 6-foot wooden privacy fence. Nobody can even see in. We also have a very protective and gentle-with-kids 60-pound lab with a loud bark.

I just let my 18-month-old DS play in the yard with the dog for 30 minutes while I was inside. I could hear his little voice through the open back door the whole time, talking to the dog. And I looked out the window every 5 minutes or so to check on him, or if he got too quiet. Every time he was contentedly playing with a rock or a stick, walking around exploring, or throwing the ball for the dog.

If I heard him cry I could've gotten to him in about 30 seconds if I needed to.

I'm worried about him falling on something sharp, getting bitten by a bug, picking up parasites from the dirt, that kind of thing. But it was so awesome to see him entertaining himself while I was able to do a few chores, and teaching himself about nature no less! I really like the idea of raising him to be independent in this way.

But do you think I should have been out there with him, with my eyes on him every second? Do you think it's okay to let a child that young be outdoors alone ever, even with the relatively safe environment of our yard? WWYD?
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#2 of 150 Old 04-20-2011, 09:38 AM
 
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I've been doing the same thing with DD since about 14 months. Our yard is small, we don't have a dog, and I stay in the kitchen, where I can hear her through the screen door, and check on her every couple of minutes through the kitchen window. Ah, the peace... 

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#3 of 150 Old 04-20-2011, 09:46 AM
 
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Ugh, I am so jealous! I live in a fourth floor walk up with a tint, but not fenced in yard. Sigh....so jealous......

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#4 of 150 Old 04-20-2011, 09:52 AM
 
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I would do that.  :)

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#5 of 150 Old 04-20-2011, 11:14 AM
 
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Leaving him out there in your fenced yard doesn't seem much different than leaving him in another room of your house... so I don't see it as an issue, though I wouldn't do it with DS (just different personality, plus he wouldn't tolerate being out there alone anyway).

I would be cautious about leaving him unattended with the dog though (because I've seen 'good' dogs suddenly turn aggressive)... Not something I'd be comfortable with...

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#6 of 150 Old 04-20-2011, 11:21 AM
 
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I so wish I could do this. If our yard had a fence, I'd let my two year old play out there with close supervision through the window and I'd leave the door open so I could hear her. DH doesn't see the need for a fence, he doesn't like the way they look. I really, really beg to differ!


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#7 of 150 Old 04-21-2011, 05:44 AM
 
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I'd re-think leaving your little one alone with the dog.
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#8 of 150 Old 04-21-2011, 07:56 AM
 
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I let my 20mo play outside alone all the time.  We also have a large, safe, enclosed backyard and she enjoys it.  However, I do have a lot of windows in my house and can see her easily from every room.  I think this totally depends on your kid and what they're prone to do.  My DD is very mellow, has great coordination and doesn't tend to do dangerous things.  However, my friends 3 year old needs to be supervised all the time.  He will climb fences, let animals go from their cages, move rocks into precarious places, etc..  If you feel like your baby is safe, then I think it's okay.

 

ETA:  I trust my dogs to be outside with my baby.  If I didn't trust my dogs that much, I wouldn't have them.  We also have dwarf goats (in a fence), rabbits and chickens.  I've never had an issue with any of the animals.


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#9 of 150 Old 04-21-2011, 09:08 AM
 
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I let my 20-month-old play outside with the door open and check on him frequently.  We have 2 big dogs that are absolutely wonderful with him and since the door's open everyone has the option of being indoors or outdoors (sometimes he chases the dogs more than they want).  Our yard is fenced and he's a pretty mellow kid.  He likes to be close so he often stays right near the door.  I worry about some of the things you mention (sharp things, etc), but just try to keep our yard as safe as possible and keep an eye on him.

 

My sister won't let her kids play in their fenced yard without her, every mama just has to do what feels comfortable and safe for her.  A friend makes fun of me because I still cut grapes in half for my toddler... I'm just trying to say we all have our own boundaries and comfort levels : )


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#10 of 150 Old 04-21-2011, 01:18 PM
 
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Funny, I just did this same thing the other day and wondered if I was being "neglectful" or "empowering" by letting my 14m DD play outside.  She absolutely LOVES being outside and explores rocks, dirt, sticks, and stones.  She loves the "plunk" of the stones she collects in her cup.  I love being able to load the dishwasher without her climbing into it.  Our yard is also on the small side and fenced in.  The biggest hazard would be the landmines left behind by the dog, who is best friends with her.  I'm pretty sure this is something I'm going to continue doing.


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#11 of 150 Old 04-21-2011, 01:39 PM
 
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When we finish the backyard I plan to let the 4 year old and 2 year old out alone back there.  That being said, I won't trust them alone with the dog, otherwise in a perfectly safe fenced backyard with no hazards, I won't have a problem with my toddler out there playing alone.


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#12 of 150 Old 04-21-2011, 01:53 PM
 
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We have a similar situation and yes, I let 20mo DS play outside by himself while I am inside.  I have only done this for 1/2 hour or less and we can hear each other so I call to him now and again and vice versa. Of course there are dangers outside but he can get hurt inside too, even when I am right next to him so IMO as long as I can see him outside I am fine with him out there by himself.


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#13 of 150 Old 04-21-2011, 01:56 PM
 
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I would not be doing this with my 15 month old, but only because he is still putting everything in his mouth.  Rocks, sticks, whathaveyou.  If I wasn't worried about choking, I would have no issues.  I think it's great!  It's fun to watch them gain a bit of independence, isn't it?

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#14 of 150 Old 04-21-2011, 02:15 PM
 
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I see absolutely no problem at all.  Our back yard isn't safe at all and doesn't have a fence otherwise I totally would do it too!  I leave dd alone in rooms of the house, but I know her and her personality.  I know that she isn't going to try anything.  She can be around open stairs, hot food and nothing in our house is child proofed, yet she won't touch anything she's not supposed to, its just her personality.  I absolutely would let her be outside by herself because I can trust her to know when she needs to come and get me.  My friend's dd on the other hand seemingly does not think before she acts (though I'm sure she does, she's just daring), so there's lots of throwing herself off of things, grabbing dangerous things, eating things off the ground etc, she has a different personality, and I wouldn't feel comfortable with her being outside by herself.  Its all about personality.


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#15 of 150 Old 04-22-2011, 12:31 PM
 
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I wouldn't, at that age, because of the choking hazard risk primarily. Choking is silent and common. And my 20m isn't allowed to play by herself in another room of the house either. But an older child who was visible through a window? Sure.

 

I also wouldn't allow the dog to play with her. We had friend with a "good dog" and a very injured child. Too much risk, especially in that weight class.

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#16 of 150 Old 04-23-2011, 06:59 AM
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for everyone saying they wouldn't trust any dog alone with their kiddo, could you possibly consider that OP knows her dogs better than you do? I am so tired of the hysteria over leaving a dog alone with a toddler. Everyone trots out the "well I know a good dog who just snapped one day" stories without realizing that there are generally SIGNS as a precursor to this type of behavior, it is that the humans missed it.

 

I trust my dog completely. She allows DD to feed her food from her dish 1 piece at a time, DD grabs bones from this dogs mouth, she kisses the dog on the mouth, they roll around on the floor playing together. I don't need a stranger online telling me I am endangering my kid when you don't have a clue what you are talking about. The OP didn't ask for advice about leaving her kiddo with a dog, she asked the opinions of leaving her kiddo outside for a little while. People need to stop with the dog panic thing, yeah dogs bite kids, it happens but guess what, for every dog that "snaps" (or in other words sends signals  that are ignored or not noticed) there are the countless dogs who never do anything but lick and love the little member's of their family...OK off soapbox now.

 

OP, it sounds like it went great. I am jealous of you! DD won't stand playing unsupervised for more than 5 minutes then she is running around shouting for mama! 

 

ETA, just to add my dog is an 80lb shepherd mix...Go ahead tell me I am "endangering" my child noweyesroll.gif

As a PP said if you can't trust your own dog with your kid then you shouldn't have that dog in the first place.

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#17 of 150 Old 04-23-2011, 07:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Ldavis24 View Post


As a PP said if you can't trust your own dog with your kid then you shouldn't have that dog in the first place.



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We have two German Shepherds, one is about 80 pounds, the other about 130 pounds (yes, he is an extremely large dog all around!). My son climbs all over both of them, chases them around, feeds them by hand, and the dogs love it. They are extremely protective of him, and the only person they would hurt is someone trying to hurt us. I know my dogs.

 

I don't have such a great backyard as the OP describes. I wish I had a big privacy fence like that! I would let my son do the same thing. Right now, I will let him run around while I'm outside, but usually I'll just sit and read a book and glance up every now and then. If he tries to go towards the road or in the neighbors' yard, I'll grab him and turn him around.

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#18 of 150 Old 04-23-2011, 08:12 AM
 
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I don't think it's hysteria to be careful about leaving a dog alone with a toddler. Many toddlers will suddenly try to pull the dog's tail, hit it, play too roughly with it, etc. even if they are generally gentle kids, and an animal may react very differently from its 'normal' temperament when it's in pain or scared. And yes, there may be signs that the owner may miss, which is exactly the point -- sometimes we miss the signs, and general caution with kids around animals may help prevent injuries in such cases... It drives me CRAZY when people say, "MY dog would never bite," because many many many times I've seen those exact same dogs show signs of aggression (especially with small kids) -- this is not just some story I heard on the news one time, it's something I've personally witnessed multiple times. Plus, dog owners can be blinded by their love for their family pet (just like moms might say their kid would never do XYZ, sometimes our love gets in the way of objectively evaluating the situation).

I know the OP didn't ask about this, but she did ask about the overall safety of the situation, and pointing out the dog issue is no different than pointing out that fences aren't fool-proof or any other aspect of the situation that could be dangerous. But that being said, lots of parents do things I would consider dangerous (and lots refrain from doing things that I feel are safe) so I am not trying to judge/accuse anyone of anything, just pointing out what *I* would find unsafe about the situation.
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#19 of 150 Old 04-23-2011, 08:12 AM
 
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What hysteria? A couple of posters have said that they wouldn't have left the child with a dog. I don't see that as hysteria, purely "you ask for my opinion, and here it is."  And as for the "she knows her dog better than you do" comment, so what? You could apply that to every posting that is made here. How interesting or helpful would MDC be if responses to questions were full of "well, I know my child better than you do." Yes, you do. So why are you (generic you) asking advice from people who have never met your child?

 

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Originally Posted by Ldavis24 View Post

for everyone saying they wouldn't trust any dog alone with their kiddo, could you possibly consider that OP knows her dogs better than you do? I am so tired of the hysteria over leaving a dog alone with a toddler. Everyone trots out the "well I know a good dog who just snapped one day" stories without realizing that there are generally SIGNS as a precursor to this type of behavior, it is that the humans missed it.

 

I trust my dog completely. She allows DD to feed her food from her dish 1 piece at a time, DD grabs bones from this dogs mouth, she kisses the dog on the mouth, they roll around on the floor playing together. I don't need a stranger online telling me I am endangering my kid when you don't have a clue what you are talking about. The OP didn't ask for advice about leaving her kiddo with a dog, she asked the opinions of leaving her kiddo outside for a little while. People need to stop with the dog panic thing, yeah dogs bite kids, it happens but guess what, for every dog that "snaps" (or in other words sends signals  that are ignored or not noticed) there are the countless dogs who never do anything but lick and love the little member's of their family...OK off soapbox now.

 

OP, it sounds like it went great. I am jealous of you! DD won't stand playing unsupervised for more than 5 minutes then she is running around shouting for mama! 

 

ETA, just to add my dog is an 80lb shepherd mix...Go ahead tell me I am "endangering" my child noweyesroll.gif

As a PP said if you can't trust your own dog with your kid then you shouldn't have that dog in the first place.



 

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#20 of 150 Old 04-23-2011, 09:13 AM
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the hysteria is here (MDC in general) all the time about people's dogs. I won't hijack this thread with a whole separate discussion about dog safety but I can guarantee no one will have their mind changed by what I say. Some people just can't trust their dog's enough. Not a bad thing to know the realistic limitations of your own dog. My point is that NO ONE knows the OP's dog as well as she does and I assume that she wouldn't leave the dog alone with the kid unless she was confident in the safety of it. 

I am confident in my own dog. I do not buy into the "even good dog's snap at any random moment so be careful" attitude. I just don't.  It is a rarity but it is made to appear as a commonplace event. Maybe you think your dog might and you might want to analyze why you have those particular concerns but I don't...I'll check back in about it in 15 years after my dog does and hasn't even nipped anything except a flea on her butt. 

 

People need to stop assuming every dog is a ticking time bomb of teeth, it's just not true, it's fear mongering. Your own dog might be but that is your (meaning anyone who feels this way) own issue with your own dog.

 

OP, I'm curious, does your toddler ever get nervous outside alone? Does your voice calling out do enough to calm any anxiety? DD is driving me crazy outside because I can't get any yard work done with her out with me. She just wants to be held the whole time.

 

Oh to the why ask advice when the OP knows her own child better....This thread is about her child, not her dog so why are people acting like they know her dog better than she does? She is asking advice about the general safety of allowing a toddler to play outdoors. Not the specific safety of allowing her toddler to play with her own dog that she knows better than any poster here.

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#21 of 150 Old 04-23-2011, 10:29 AM
 
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(sidetracked for the people afraid of leaving kids alone with dogs: don't you think that the kid has most likely run the gamut of doggie abuse while watchful mama was around enough to trust dog's reaction? )

i think that's totally wonderful.  your yard is just another childproofed area!  sadly we don't have that, i have to watch dd like a hawk outside, but if we had a fence (and if she would leave my side for like two seconds ever) i would totally do that.  but i'm a free-range type mama ;)  i grew up playing outside by myself in the woods and on big acreage.  i know i'll just eventually try to not think about all the dangerous things i did. 


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#22 of 150 Old 04-23-2011, 07:43 PM
 
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We are about to move & one of the big things I'm excited about is that ds will be able to go outside unattended for short periods of time. Our yard here, although fully fenced, is not visible (or within hearing) from the house & so I couldn't feel comfortable leaving him out there alone.

 

As for the dog - everyone needs to assess their own situation. We have 2, one I would absolutely trust with ds unsupervised, they get along great, she's little & the worst she would do is jump on him. Our older dog is less patient than she used to be & to protect her from my not so gentle little boy as much as anything I wouldn't leave her unattended with him. I don't actually think she would snap at him but she is a big girl & her trying to get away from his enthusiasm could knock him & hurt him. When she was younger I wouldn't have hesitated 'cause she was ridiculously patient with kids (I think she is often uncomfortable now so is a little more irritable).


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#23 of 150 Old 04-24-2011, 06:23 AM
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what are the yards looking like that people are letting their toddlers loose in?? 

Our yard is large, unfenced but very private by the neighborhood's standards and not really even at all. It has one flat area where the chicken coop is and the rest slopes downward into a hollow where the fire pit is...I would love to let DD loose in the yard but I can't envision her playing out there by herself. The yard is so uneven and variable, she does stumble and take quite a few spills, I feel like she would just end up rolling down the hill...

 

We do have a huge deck that wraps around the back half of the house and I could see her playing out there without me...I just can't picture her willing to be outside a lone...These mythical toddlers who like to roam without mama or dada blow my mindorngtongue.gif

 

oh the dog thing, I guess my original rant was basically along the lines of people are the best judge of their own dog's and I take someone's word when they say they CAN trust their dog. I know I can trust mine. I have seen firsthand what DD dishes out to the dog (even with repeated "gentle" lessons) and our pup has never so much as batted an eye when DD has smacked/pulled/fell on/yanked on the collar/tripped over/taken toys/taken food/stuck her entire hand in the dog's mouth etc... I would actually feel better about DD playing outside alone with the dog out there with her...

 

Now as our dog gets older I will pay closer attention because I certainly know older dog's are less patient and tend to be more sensitive physically due to arthritis or whatever...Kinda like older humanswinky.gif

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#24 of 150 Old 04-24-2011, 06:32 AM
 
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I'm worried about him falling on something sharp, getting bitten by a bug, picking up parasites from the dirt, that kind of thing.



All of these could happen if you were sitting outside supervising winky.gif

 

If I had that set-up (fenced in yard) I wouldn't hesitate to allow a child to play out there while I listened/checked on them. I would hesitate about letting the dog out there with him alone, but I've heard some horrifying stories of dogs and kids (even in supervised settings).

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#25 of 150 Old 04-24-2011, 06:39 AM
 
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I totally do this! My dd is 14, almost 15 months. Our backyard is large and has a wooden 6 foot privacy fence all the way around. We have a little toddler "house" for her out there and she goes and plays just fine on her own. The best part is our living room has french doors and large windows on either side of the doors that look right into the backyard, so I can see her at all times and run out and get her if she goes too far on either side of the yard.

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#26 of 150 Old 04-24-2011, 06:40 AM
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parasites from the dirt is a new one for me? I think one of the last things I'd worry about since my kid will have a lifetime of interacting with dirt...Yesterday she was rolling chicken POOP in her fingers that she picked up in the rungrossedout.gif

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#27 of 150 Old 04-24-2011, 06:43 AM
 
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When DS was 16 months we moved into a little house with a HUGE, fenced back yard.  There were 2 sliding doors plus lots of windows overlooking the yard and he played out there all.the.time on his own.  He is nature boy and would come back in absolutely covered in dirt or mud, but always had a blast.  We could see/hear him from the house or sit out on the deck with him, he'd literally be content for hours of the day (not consecutive).  When he was 3 we moved into a house with a large, safe backyard but he would never go out by himself b/c the access from the house was poor and you couldn't see/hear what was happening back there.  We were ok with him going in and out but he didn't like it b/c he couldn't touch base easily with us.  When we bought a house a year later it was really important to have good backyard access from the house both physically and visually.  Once again, he is delighted to play outside on his own :)  This time we also have a shower right off the garage entrance to the house - a blessing when he is covered head to toe in mud/dirt/water.  I'm so glad we were able to start independant outdoor time as young as we did, and his love of that has just continued.


 

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#28 of 150 Old 04-24-2011, 06:43 AM
 
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Some of  my best childhood memories are playing in the yard, exploring and finding different kinds of bugs, plants, and just enjoying being outside. We now live in a big city with no yard (apartment) and I do feel my kids are missing out. I just spent a few hours with the kids running around the yard of a local kid friendly cafe. I read a book, the kids played with bugs and stuff. I think that kind of thing is very important, and I see nothing wrong with leaving young kids to play in the yard while you can see or hear them all the time. They need that freedom, I think!


I'm Olivia. I blog about physiological childbirth, homebirth, and unassisted homebirth!
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#29 of 150 Old 04-24-2011, 06:49 AM
 
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Do a search here on MDC about dogs and biting and you will discover that MDC parents are not immune to having their child bitten by a dog. As sad as it is, it happens. A parent who refuses to admit the possibility is there that their dog could bite their child is in denial and doing a disservice to both the dog and the child.


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#30 of 150 Old 04-24-2011, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by StephandOwen View Post

Do a search here on MDC about dogs and biting and you will discover that MDC parents are not immune to having their child bitten by a dog. As sad as it is, it happens. A parent who refuses to admit the possibility is there that their dog could bite their child is in denial and doing a disservice to both the dog and the child.



thus my point about the hysteria of dog biting...every time someone mentions their dog alone with their kid, people DO trot out story after story of a "good" dog suddenly snapping and mauling a kid...

Well guess what I am not afraid of my dog and I am not doing a damn disservice to either my kid or my dog because I KNOW my dog isn't going to bite my kid...Thank you for assuming you know me, my dog and my kid better based on your own fears and issues...As we speak my daughter is dragging our dog around the living room by her collar (my 80lb dog)...Stop with the fear mongering. You don't know other people's dogs and no one is in denial about anything. People who have this level of insecurity about dogs SHOULDN'T even own a dog.

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