Dog bit my 5 year old DS in the face! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am totally freaked out. We've had the dog for 4 months. We got her from the animal rescue. She's generally been very good natured and very good with the kids. And they are TOTALLY in love with her. My 5 year old DS can sometimes be less than gentle with her. He hugs her rather firmly, and sometimes tries to ride her like a horse, etc. She has on occassion growled at him but that's it.

So I didn't see what happened tonight. But we were all in the kitchen getting ready for dinner. I was at the sink, and I heard her growl and snap at him and he immediately started crying. Then I saw the wound on his face-- by his temple. So after he calmed down I asked him what happened. At first he said he sat on her. Then later he said he tried to hug her and wrestle with her. So I got on the floor on all 4s and asked him to show me what he did. He hugged me around the neck and pushed down toward the floor.

You can see the teeth marks on his face. She broke the skin and it bled a little and looks like it's going to be quite a bruise.

What in the world do I do? I feel like I can't trust the dog now. The kids would be heart broken if I gave her away.
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#2 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 10:09 PM
 
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I think you need to teach your child how to act around a dog. No dog should be treated like that. They should be a respected member of the family and no child should be left unsupervised with any dog. I'm sorry this happened and I'm glad that he is okay but this situation could have been avoided. Unfornuately the dog will pay the ultimate price for human error

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#3 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 10:34 PM
 
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I agree with Angie, none of the things you describe are an ok way to treat a dog.
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#4 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 10:38 PM
 
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I think you need to teach your child how to act around a dog. No dog should be treated like that. They should be a respected member of the family and no child should be left unsupervised with any dog. I'm sorry this happened and I'm glad that he is okay but this situation could have been avoided. Unfornuately the dog will pay the ultimate price for human error
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I agree with Angie, none of the things you describe are an ok way to treat a dog.

I agree with both of these posts. Especially considering you know the dog has given a warning growl before and it sounds like you've never once given your child any guidelines as to how NOT to touch or handle an animal. I have explained thoroughly to my daughters how to treat our pets. I have taught them what it means if a cat hisses or a dog growls or a bird lowers their head with eyes flashing. It's important to teach children to respect animals and to teach them how to understand animal behavior.

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#5 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 10:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Of course I have asked him to be more gentle with her on many occassions. And I have pointed out the times that she growled at him that it means she doesn't like it. I suspect he was maybe thinking he was trying to wrestle with her like he does on occassion with his sister. The kids and the dog play chase and tug of war and run around together and I don't think he really thought he was crossing the line in his behavior toward her.
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#6 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 10:59 PM
 
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He may not have thought so, but he *did* cross the line. 5 year olds can't work this out logically. You have to keep them separated until he can understand this. No ifs, ands, or buts. I have a 3 year old and 5 year old. They were never, ever, ever, never, ever ever left unsupervised - and I mean literally, with me watching every minute - with my dog. It sounds extreme, but *any* dog can react so quickly in an unexpected way, and terrible things happen in the blink of an eye. I don't think people fully understand the magnitude of the issue until something happens to them - which is what happened to you.

You must find a way to keep the kids away from the dog when you're preoccupied. The dog did nothing unexpected, and I don't think you're going to find someone who disagrees on that. So get a baby gate or crate to keep the dog out of reach of your kids when you can't direct your children in the appropriate way to behave around a dog. You need to give immediate instruction when your children are interacting with the dog. Telling a 5 year old what is appropriate after the fact just doesn't work.
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#7 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 11:05 PM
 
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Your dog is being a dog.

The dog has already warned you and your children several times that this is not acceptable behavior to him. He's growled and showed his displeasure.

You as the pack leader have done nothing to address your dogs distress, so he finally snapped at the offending member of the pack.

Your dog has now taught your son what is not acceptable. Your dog does not want to be roughly hugged, or rode like a horse.
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#8 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 11:06 PM
 
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The kids and the dog play chase and tug of war and run around together
I would stop this behavior immediately. This is teaching your dog that the kids are play toys and this is very dangerous.
Tug of war is a big no no even with adults, especially if the dog is even slightly possessive or territorial.

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#9 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 11:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You must find a way to keep the kids away from the dog when you're preoccupied. The dog did nothing unexpected, and I don't think you're going to find someone who disagrees on that. So get a baby gate or crate to keep the dog out of reach of your kids when you can't direct your children in the appropriate way to behave around a dog.
Thanks. She isn't crate trained and we don't have a crate. But that might be a good idea. Do you think if I found a good trainer it would be helpful to have him / her work with me and the kids? I have been going to training classes with the dog, but they don't let the kids participate in the class. I asked and they said it confuses the dog, so it's just been me handling her. She has done fairly well in the class. She did have one incident of agression toward another dog. They asked me to leave the room with her until she calmed down, which she did pretty quickly.
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#10 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 11:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I would stop this behavior immediately. This is teaching your dog that the kids are play toys and this is very dangerous.
Tug of war is a big no no even with adults, especially if the dog is even slightly possessive or territorial.
Really? We got one of those toys from her foster mom when we got her and she told us that she loves to play tug of war. I never heard that was a bad idea.
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#11 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 11:14 PM
 
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Of course I have asked him to be more gentle with her on many occassions. And I have pointed out the times that she growled at him that it means she doesn't like it. I suspect he was maybe thinking he was trying to wrestle with her like he does on occassion with his sister. The kids and the dog play chase and tug of war and run around together and I don't think he really thought he was crossing the line in his behavior toward her.
I know the advice might be hard for you to hear and we tend to have this idealistic picture of child playing with family dog, but they are right. Dogs act like dogs and children act like children. Neither can be stopped and unfortunately no one can be blamed after the case.

My son was bit in the face a year ago this past December by my brothers dog. He had living with the dog for almost six months. We were all in the room. He was under the table with the dog while we were making dinner and chatting. Ds, who was three at the time "gave him a hug" and knelt on the dogs body. The dog snapped and he received a serious wound in his mouth/lip/cheek area. We rushed to Boston Children's where he had to be put under to have plastic surgery for repairs. He looks great today with only a faint scar but it SUCKEd! Worst of all we felt so bad about not being informed and protecting our child (and ultimately the dog).

I would take this quite serious. All dogs bite.
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#12 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 11:16 PM
 
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Really? We got one of those toys from her foster mom when we got her and she told us that she loves to play tug of war. I never heard that was a bad idea.

Well, now you know.

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#13 of 61 Old 02-26-2009, 11:56 PM
 
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I have to agree, this was NOT the dogs fault! You never leave children unsupervised with ANY dog. We have an 11 year old beagle & and a 2 yr old, I do not let them be alone. EVER! and it isn't because I do not trust my dog, I do, I do not trust the 2 yr old!! She could feed him food, she could pull his ears, she could sit on him, and he could defend himself. We have a baby gate that seperates the home & dog is only allowed in certain areas. When we are together, they are adult supervised.

Plus you son MUST learn that you can not wrestle with dogs, nor sit on them. This should be number one HIGH priority.

Tug of war just creates aggression & possesion. NOT good in dogs! Fetch the ball is a better game to play with the doggie.

Good luck.

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#14 of 61 Old 02-27-2009, 12:09 AM
 
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We have two American Eskimos and a 2.5 year old. Even at this age, my son knows it is not ok to rough house with the dogs and he is very respectful of their space. As soon as he started to acknowledge the dogs I made sure he understood it wasn't ok to pull on them and so far it has worked. If they start to growl, I immediately step in and am proactive about the situation. They only way they can communicate their fear is through growling. Truly, I don't think what happened to your son was the dogs fault. Hopefully, the lessons learned will prevent this from happening again.

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#15 of 61 Old 02-27-2009, 12:16 AM
 
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I think it would be a GREAT idea to have a trainer work with your whole family!
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#16 of 61 Old 02-27-2009, 12:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone. I guess I am going to have to take a multi pronged approach to this. I'm feeling like perhaps I didn't educate myself enough before I got the dog. Guess I have a lot of work to do. I got bit in the face by my friends dog when I was 7 or 8. There were 4 kids in that family and we played with that dog all the time. Then one day I went to pet him and he jumped up and bit me. They gave the dog away after that and I felt HORRIBLE.
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#17 of 61 Old 02-27-2009, 01:31 AM
 
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I am in the minority here but I would rehome and make sure it was with no children. I am not in anyway a fan of rehomeing so please donot flame me for saying this. I love animals and feel they ALL deserve forever homes. But in these kind of cases they need forever homes with no small children.

A childs safety comes first! My old dog was small (peek a poo before the whole boom) and I was 3 I cannot believe all the things I could do to him! Yes a child needs to know how to act so does the dog! my sister had to rehome and if was so sad he has a wonderful home with a retired women who loves him! (she has no grandchildren) The dog did what yours did except no broken skin,and my nephew did not pull him just a small hug. My sister was right there so we know for a fact it was a light hug! My aunt who is an animal advocate even said if any dog she has showed any agression tword any of the Dc's (mine and my sisters) she would have to rehome. If you knew my aunt that says a lot. She has no children her Fur babies are not fur babies they are her babies!

Sorry to be the downer here but I could not read your post and not say anything.

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#18 of 61 Old 02-27-2009, 09:12 AM
 
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Well, personally, I wouldn't rehome. I also don't think tug of war is a bad game to play. I can list citations later, but don't have time now, but wanted you to know that many top trainers think it's fine, too. There is a bit of controversy about it because some top trainers think it's a big no-no, as you are hearing here, but others think it's okay.

I imagine that your son just momentarily hurt the dog somehow (probably by trying to ride it) and she snapped. Actually if the wound wasn't very deep she probably showed a great deal of bite inhibition. I would teach him that she doesn't like to be ridden and that she prefers pats and strokes to being hugged and I think that's all that needs to be done. I agree that your son shouldn't have been playing with the dog that way. The dog just responded the only way she knows how.

We have two dogs, a very energetic puppy and a surprisingly energetic 10 yr old. They play wrestle and fight all day when the puppy jumps on the older dog. She jumps on his back (like your son riding your dog) or tries to grab his neck (like the hug) and there is much snapping of teeth and growling. When the older dog gets really mad (usually he's enjoying himself) he shows a lot of teeth and makes a very guttural growl and she backs down. If she didn't I would not be surprised if he would give her a small bite. He never has because she ALWAYS understands doggie language and backs off. I think what happened with your son was he doesn't understand doggy language and engaged in behaviors that simulate dogs wrestling and he didn't back off when your dog told him to, so she had to be more forceful. Of course, I don't really know. I wasn't there, but from your description it sounds like it could have been what happened.

I would concentrate on educating your kids about the best way to play with dogs. Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson have some great dog books dealing and sections about introducing dogs and kids. Here's one called Childproofing Your Dog published in 1994, but some of their more recent books have sections dealing with kids and dogs, too.

Good luck!

ETA: Here are links about tug of war as a positive game:
http://www.clickertraining.com/node/1355
http://www.clickerlessons.com/tug.htm
http://doggytug.com/WholeDog.html
http://pages.prodigy.net/k9shrink/page27.html
http://www.clickertraining.com/node/727
http://www.bestfriendspetcare.com/bf_training_34.cfm

There are tons more. Just do a little research and decide for yourself. It's a natural canine game.

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#19 of 61 Old 02-27-2009, 01:00 PM
 
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I think tug is a fine game to play, however it requires control on both sides. The dog needs to keep their teeth to themselves, even when excited by the game, and the human needs to gauge the dog's reaction and stop/react if needed. I often combine a game of fetch with tug and use the "Out" command to get her to release it, it's good practice for letting go when she's excited. That said, it's not a game I would want a child to play because I don't think they have the self-control needed for it.

I disagree with your training class instructor though - a dog can take commands from many different people. If my sister tells my dog to sit, I fully expect her to sit and will follow through if she doesn't. I think what they were really saying is that having children participate in the class would make it to difficult for them to run it. I think that is fair since there is a limited amount of time in class, but around here they would encourage you to practice the things you learned with your whole family outside of class (which is when the majority of the work happens anyway).

I second the recommendation by "Childproofing your dog" by Kilcommons/Wilson if you don't already have it. It also has a chapter for "dogproofing your child". I find a lot of libraries around here have it, so you can borrow it and read before you buy or if it's not in the finances. The thing about kids and dogs is that it's not enough to just get a really good dog and everything will be fine. It takes a lot of work and supervision on a day-to-day basis. If you don't have a crate how about using some baby gates (assuming your little ones can't open them)? Put the dog behind it, separated from the kids, when you're doing something that requires your attention; you can give her a Kong or similar toy with a cookie in it to occupy her and make it a positive thing.
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#20 of 61 Old 02-27-2009, 08:44 PM
 
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Please don't ever leave your dog and child unattended together!! It is too easy for something like this to happen.


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I disagree with your training class instructor though - a dog can take commands from many different people. If my sister tells my dog to sit, I fully expect her to sit and will follow through if she doesn't. I think what they were really saying is that having children participate in the class would make it to difficult for them to run it. I think that is fair since there is a limited amount of time in class, but around here they would encourage you to practice the things you learned with your whole family outside of class (which is when the majority of the work happens anyway).
I totally agree with this.

My three Rotties take commands from all three of my toddlers.
Here is a video of my youngest daughter "training" our 3 yo very dominant male rottweiler

http://www.dropshots.com/luvs#date/2009-02-20/16:43:20

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#21 of 61 Old 02-27-2009, 09:23 PM
 
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I would stop this behavior immediately. This is teaching your dog that the kids are play toys and this is very dangerous.
Tug of war is a big no no even with adults, especially if the dog is even slightly possessive or territorial.

Our trainer told us that tug of war was fine AS LONG AS the human won every time.
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#22 of 61 Old 02-27-2009, 09:27 PM
 
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Thanks. She isn't crate trained and we don't have a crate. But that might be a good idea. Do you think if I found a good trainer it would be helpful to have him / her work with me and the kids? I have been going to training classes with the dog, but they don't let the kids participate in the class. I asked and they said it confuses the dog, so it's just been me handling her. She has done fairly well in the class. She did have one incident of agression toward another dog. They asked me to leave the room with her until she calmed down, which she did pretty quickly.
We hired a trainer to come to the house and work one on one with the dog and family (two adults, four kids, 3-9). It worked out really well, and the kids really learned what to do and what not to do.
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#23 of 61 Old 02-27-2009, 09:46 PM
 
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Please don't ever leave your dog and child unattended together!! It is too easy for something like this to happen.




I totally agree with this.

My three Rotties take commands from all three of my toddlers.
Here is a video of my youngest daughter "training" our 3 yo very dominant male rottweiler

http://www.dropshots.com/luvs#date/2009-02-20/16:43:20

That's awesome!!!!
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#24 of 61 Old 02-27-2009, 09:57 PM
 
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Our trainer told us that tug of war was fine AS LONG AS the human won every time.
I've heard that before, too, but in these circumstances there is more than one child, and the kids are playing with the dog independent of adult supervision. There would be no way to know if the kid was always winning. I also prefer to err on the side of caution. Simply don't play those games if you can't control the outcome and being able to play tug-o-war with your pup isn't really the important issue here. Keeping the children and dog safe and teaching proper interaction is the main goal, I believe.

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#25 of 61 Old 02-28-2009, 02:18 AM
 
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The kids and the dog play chase and tug of war and run around together and I don't think he really thought he was crossing the line in his behavior toward her.

If I could, I would get out a red sharpie and draw numerous X's over this while saying No No NO! Bad Bad BAD! ... Seriously though this is very bad idea especially with a new dog. Your dog AND your kids need *very clear* *black and white* boundaries regarding proper behavior around each other. Chase and tug are fine under specific circumstances and judging by the rest of your post those specific circumstances are not being met.

Your dog trainer sounds like a not so great trainer. All training clubs I have been too don't mind - encourage children to work with dogs. You should look for a new trainer who is willing to work with you as a family, my dog follows commands from anyone in the family even my 3 year old.

It's past my bed time (so ignore typos and grammatical errors) but the long and short, as others have mentioned, your dog gave the boy numerous warnings and you did not do enough to keep your child from hurting the dog. The dog felt it had no other choice but to react the way she did. I am not very tolerant of dogs biting humans but from your description it was totally preventable and is totally fixable. If you can not directly supervise keep the kids and the dog separate. I also suggest you read this http://www.livingwithdogs.us/article...-to-say-hi.pdf
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#26 of 61 Old 02-28-2009, 10:54 PM
 
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Please don't ever leave your dog and child unattended together!! It is too easy for something like this to happen.




I totally agree with this.

My three Rotties take commands from all three of my toddlers.
Here is a video of my youngest daughter "training" our 3 yo very dominant male rottweiler

http://www.dropshots.com/luvs#date/2009-02-20/16:43:20
FANTASTIC video! I love it. Can I send you a PM? My kids are having a hard time training our dog (she's extremely stubborn, her breed is known for being hard to train).

As for the OP, I really hate to be blunt, but of course the dog bit your son. Your son was treating the dog in a way which made it feel threatened and insecure. Have you got a copy of Jan Fennell's book 'The Dog Whisperer'? I would recommend it. Obviously I need some help too because my dog won't respond to my kids, so I'm far from a dog expert - but there were some huge red flags in your post. Jan Fennell's ideas make them easier to identify, I think.
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#27 of 61 Old 02-28-2009, 11:12 PM
 
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FANTASTIC video! I love it. Can I send you a PM? My kids are having a hard time training our dog (she's extremely stubborn, her breed is known for being hard to train).
Thank you

Feel free to send me a PM

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#28 of 61 Old 02-28-2009, 11:51 PM
 
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I'm sorry but your child treating the dog that way is one of the best ways to have your son be seriously hurt. Especially if it's a new dog, not yet fully trained. Please be careful with this!

If you can't trust your son to act appropriately around a dog, then you NEVER EVER turn your back on him when he's with the dog. EVER. This is so very important, both for your son's safety and for the training of your dog.

I see this A LOT in the rescue where I volunteer, both to train the animals and to help the owners. Someone comes in, and tells us their dog bit their kid, and we're like "ok, what was your child doing with that dog?" And, honestly, 9 times out of 10 ... it wasn't aggression on the part of the dog, but a child not knowing how to behave appropriately around one.

My advice is to teach your son how to be appropriate around a dog. And until he learns, you NEVER EVER leave him alone with the dog, you never even turn your back on him when he's with the dog. I can't stress that enough!

I would start the NILIF program, and be consistent. A 5 year old is old enough to give commands, feed the dog, and act appropriately around the dog. If he can't act appropriately around the dog, he's not allowed to touch him or play with him.

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#29 of 61 Old 03-01-2009, 01:48 AM
 
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Here's a game called "Doggone Crazy," a dog bite prevention game, on the site that beanma linked:
http://www.clickertraining.com/store...oredombusters1

It says:
Quote:
"This game makes it fun for children to learn how to behave toward dogs, and how to understand what dog expressions and actions mean. It's a positive and reinforcing tool for enhancing child safety, reducing bite risk, and improving the human-animal bond."
I haven't used it myself since we are not parents to living children yet, but it could be a good learning and bonding tool for homes with children and dogs.
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#30 of 61 Old 03-02-2009, 05:46 PM
 
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AKRotts- the video was great!!! Your rottie is gorgeous!

OP- your son is well past the age of taking responsibility to know how to treat a dog. He needs to go to an obedience class with your dog. Your entire family needs to go as well and EVERYONE needs to learn right along with your dog. I am currently in the process of teaching my DD who is 2.5 to teach our dogs to sit, down and stay. They HAVE to listen to her as well as DH and myself.

Erin, mom to Amelia Rose:, 6/15/06 and Lily Grace, 6/7/09; wife to Phil since 10/9/04
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