My dad and his wife live with three dogs, none of them trained whatsoever. An elderly german shepherd, a young pitbull, and a young brussels griffon. We visited over the winter and stayed with them for several days. Here's my concern. The shepherd seems to be OK and keeps mostly to herself. The griffon has a tendency to jump up and scratch but at least she's small. The pit bull they kept locked in my step sister's room for the duration of our visit, because my dad didn't trust him around my kids, then 5 and 3. He got out several times though, and when he did my stepmom kept trying to get my kids to "warm up" to him, holding him by the collar and inviting the kids to pet him. He is a nice enough dog but hyperactive and untrained. Then there was an incident where my dad was kind of wrestling around playfully with my 3yo, and apparently the pit bull was on his way out for a walk but not on a leash yet and came rushing into the room and lunged snarling at my daughter. I was not in the room but heard about it just afterwards. Thank goodness my stepmom grabbed the dog's collar in time before he could bite. Afterwards, she made excuses for the dog- he would never have bitten her, and he was just being protective of my dad, etc. She also refers to the dog as "her grandson," since it's her daughter's dog. Basically, I don't think she is realistic about the potential for this dog to hurt my kids, which to me makes for a dangerous situation.
SO. We're not going to stay there again. But my question is, even if we were to visit and stay at a nearby hotel, how do we keep the kids safe when we're hanging out at the house for a visit? The dog was locked up last time but kept getting out. Is there a better way to do this? Oh and they're not likely to want to tie him outside as he was recently attacked and nearly killed by a wandering neighborhood pit bull. Great. I'm bummed about this because I really want to be able to visit my dad, but I'm not sure what to do.
Since your dad & his wife are unable to properly contain the dog in another room, this dog needs to be crated when you visit. Period.
A wire crate costs about $50 and would be a safe way to lock the dog away where it couldn't accidentally escape (I still don't understand how/why that is happening). The crate can be located in the house but near the door for walks, and you need to be told when that crate door is going to be opened.
It sounds like they understand that this dog needs to be kept away from your children. I don't think it's unreasonable to insist that the dog be kept away from your children and offer up this as a solution since their current system isn't working.
I second the secure crate behind closed doors policy for "iffy" dogs. I am having to seriously reconsider visiting friends' homes because of their large dogs that they seem unwilling or unable to adequately contain. Not to be an alarmist, and not that I don't adore large, "vicious" dogs, but a large dog can easily kill a child, intentionally or accidentally. Dogs are dogs, fish gotta swim, some dogs have to... well, bite. Protect. Hunt. Kill. Crate behind closed doors. Pit bulls are some of the most loving, daffy dogs on planet earth, but their jaws are not made of cotton candy.
I agree with the crate idea, I have an almost 4 year old pitbull and he is trained but he is just so happy to see new people that sometimes he gets out of line and we crate him to keep people safe, he gets so happy he can jump and knock over a full grown man, I am not taking my chances of him jumping on a child. I also have an 8 year old pitbull and a 12 year old pitmix and have no problems with the older 2, but the young one just has SO MUCH ENERGY. It is not unreasonable to ask them to crate him while you are there.
Thanks everyone! The crate is a great idea. I'm not sure if she will be willing to crate her "grandson" but all we can do is ask, and then make our own decisions accordingly.
I agree that this situation could easily be deadly. I love dogs and I know pits can be sweet, but this particular set-up is a recipe for disaster- untrained young dog, used to the run of the house and then cooped up for hours getting more and more frustrated and crazy, then when he gets out- well, I'm just glad they got him in time.
And the reason he's getting out is, IMO, that my stepmom and her daughter don't agree with keeping him locked away, and are doing so reluctantly because my dad asks them to. They don't take it seriously and I've seen pictures posted on FB of the dog frolicking with another relative's toddler. Another ingredient in the disaster recipe!
Anyway, I'll update next time we visit. If they won't crate him or board him we may have to meet my dad elsewhere.
I don't think it is fair to ask them to put their animal away because you are visiting them. It's their home, their pets, their decision.
However, there is another, very easy solution.
The answer is very simple: Have them meet you at your hotel.
The children can play in the pool and your in-laws can either play in the water, as well, or watch from a chair while you chat.
Dogs are free to wander in their own home and you have no worries period.
I would never take children to ANY home in which there is a chance for a negative pet-child encounter. If your in-laws are hurt by this, too bad. Your children are more important than their adult feelings.
I think it's fair to ask, I don't think it would be fair to demand. On the flip side, if the OP's father's wife doesn't want to lock her babies up, it's also completely fair for the OP to decline placing her children in harm's way.
Full disclosure, I own a biting pet (cat), and I will either crate him or lock him in a room when we have guests. I also tell my guests that he may bite, and if they encounter him they should feel 100% free to yell for help. I know my pet, he's a mean old man, and he can't be trusted. I don't love his furry butt any less, but I don't expect other people to risk a nasty bite from my animal just because they are in my house.