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#1 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have a dog, Chai, who is a 6 year old pug and we have had her since she was a puppy. We also have 3 kids, who came into the picture after the dog. On Thursday, Chai bit my son (who is almost 3) pretty badly and he had to get a bunch of stitches in his ear... it was bad, all the way through the ear and cartilage, and runs about 2.5 inches long.

This is not the very first time Chai has bitten, but the other times we were sure it was an accident (total denial). Her issue is all about food. Not her own food, but she has bitten in order to get the kids' food. This last time my baby had been chewing on a pizza crust and the dog stole it from her and my son took it back away from the dog to give back to the baby and the dog bit him. I was sitting maybe 2 feet away and my husband was in the room as well, so we saw it all happen and my son hadn't hurt her in anyway or done anything wrong, he was just trying to be nice to his baby sister. She has bitten my oldest over a rice krispy treat and put a tooth through her lip (she has a small scar)... I was absolutely sure it was an accident, but now I am less than sure after seeing this happen just a few months later.

So, as part of the dog bite thing, we have to keep our dog until the 21st to be sure she doesn't show signs of rabies and then we have to choose what we are going to do. I do not want to put her down as she is a good dog and I love her very much, her only aggression comes from food. The vet has recommended finding her a home without young children in it. Is this really the best option? I mean, I feel like if we keep her she will bite again, but I am having guilt about giving her away....I worry that she will be heartbroken. But, if I keep her and she hurts one of the kids even worse, then we will have to put her down and that isn't fair to her or to my kids.

Is there some sort of intensive training program out there that we should be looking into? The vet says that she considers the kids to be her equals or below her and so that is why she doesn't even worry about biting them and that she will probably always have issues when it comes to food and being aggressive in order to get what she wants.

More than anything, I am just so dissappointed that she did this because now there has to be a decision made. She was such a great dog. I am just so conflicted about everything.

Erika, mama to three beautiful kids (plus one gestating), and wife to one fantastic man.

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#2 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 12:51 PM
 
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Well, you can't keep her. You just can't. My dh's parents raised Lhasas that bit him & his brother over dominance issues constantly, & he loathes dogs to this day, & is as pissed at his parents over it as them having him circumcised. Even if your children don't end up disfigured, do you want them to end up hating dogs for a lifetime?

The good news: Pug rescues are numerous, & your dog likely isn't going to end up euthanized, like so many others would in your position. Somebody childless can end up with a very nice dog (you HAVE to tell them, a responsible rescue will want to know), & you can rest easy, miss your dog, & know you did the best you could.
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#3 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 01:01 PM
 
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Can you put the dog into a crate while people are eating?

If that isn't an option, as the pp mentioned, you should have no trouble finding her a home.

edited to add: Actually, I should have thought twice before I made that statement. There are many people who will want a pug, but there may not be many who want a pug who bites. Many rescue organizations won't accept food-aggressive dogs.
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#4 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 01:40 PM
 
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This is a tough call. I think crating the dog during your meals is a good idea but we all know that toddlers tend to sort of snack throughout the day. That certainly doesn't mean that you cannot be consistent and crate the dog each time as I would assume that you control when the snacks are given to your children. I generally think that that would be a great compromise rather than having to rehome your dog. However, there is nothing to guarantee that this can't or won't escalate to an issue even outside of food issues. That is what would worry me. She definitely sees the kids as either equal to her or beneath her (most likely beneath if she is "correcting" them with biting).

I don't recommend putting the dog down since this is not an ongoing and necessarily unpredictable aggression such as a dog that was discussed on a previous thread. You could certainly find a home for her that does not have children. As far as rescues are concerned, many (mine included) will not accept dogs that have bitten for ANY reason. It's just too big of a liability. Some will if it's food aggression. It just might take some hunting on your part. Another problem, however, will be finding a rescue that is not full to the gills right now. This tends to be "dumping season" (not implying that you are dumping because in your situation rehoming is warranted) and it usually continues in rescues throughout the country until the end of the summer when everyone is through traveling.

My first inclination would be to rehome the dog since, as I stated previously, you don't know that this won't escalate. But I send and good thoughts your way while you make this difficult decision. I am so sorry you have to decide this. :
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#5 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I think my question was just answered by my pug. She just bit the same kid again just minutes ago. Only bad enough to leave little dents on his arm and no broken skin, but she obviously can't stay with us. I am not sure why she did it this time, he was just standing next to the baby and playing with her. I was sitting right there as I am not allowing her to be alone with any of the kids. Now she is in her crate because I can't even be sure she will be good to the kids with me sitting right here. I wonder why she is so unhappy with them.

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#6 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 02:20 PM
 
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That's a tough situation. For me personally, I don't think I could ever feel good about rehoming a dog with any biting issues what-so-ever. I personally would have the dog PTS. :
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#7 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 02:21 PM
 
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Okay...what do you think your dog would have done if another dog stole the food from her? BITE??? Your dog is reacting in an instinctive way to pack order...she sees the kids as her peers and sees them stealing food away from her as something she should correct.

I disagree with your vet as I do believe there are ways that you can re-train your dog...research online and contact trainers to see if there are any willing to work with you and give ideas.

Your dog's reaction is one that does not surprise me and should not surprise anyone who knows pack order instinct. I am VERY careful about food consumption in my house given that one of my dogs is food aggressive. While it shouldn't be okay for your dog to take food from your child -- it should get stopped there -- a child should not then go get food out of the dog's mouth and should be taught to come get you instead. While I completely 'get' that your son was trying to be a good big brother obviously a dog is not able to 'get' this same thing. In that same right...the dog was just trying to be a good 'surviver' and grab food when it can.

I rescue dogs....and I have taken biters in MANY times over. I find that for larger breeds the standards are different -- since larger dogs can cause more damage when they bite. NOT to say that larger dogs do not deserve the same attention when it comes to biting -- they are all biting for the same reasons -- but smaller dogs are easier to handle. I have not yet seen a small breed rescue organization that does not accept biters....most all do unless the biting involves servere aggression issues.

I personally would try and exhaust all training measures possible before rehoming a beloved pet. Many problems can be worked through...you could even contact pug rescue for advice. Many of us who work with breed specific groups have different training tips that work for our breed!

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#8 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 02:59 PM
 
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Well in the update you said he bit again today and it wasn't food related?

I think in your situation I would contact rescues and if that failed, pts. Personally, I couldn't mix babies and biting dogs. With ds (age 11) I would consider an intensive dog training program and give the dog another chance. He's tall enough that he could protect himself during the training phase with a pug. But with babies, it sounds like this dog is biting them in the face which is just intolerable to me. Plus, there is no way to involve a baby in training.

I also *thought* a dog biting over food would do a warning nip type bite--this sounds like all out vicious biting. Is that really what a dominant dog would do to a puppy? Tear their ear bloody? Puncture the skin?

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#9 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 03:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lokidoki View Post
Okay...what do you think your dog would have done if another dog stole the food from her? BITE??? Your dog is reacting in an instinctive way to pack order...she sees the kids as her peers and sees them stealing food away from her as something she should correct.

I disagree with your vet as I do believe there are ways that you can re-train your dog...research online and contact trainers to see if there are any willing to work with you and give ideas.

Your dog's reaction is one that does not surprise me and should not surprise anyone who knows pack order instinct. I am VERY careful about food consumption in my house given that one of my dogs is food aggressive. While it shouldn't be okay for your dog to take food from your child -- it should get stopped there -- a child should not then go get food out of the dog's mouth and should be taught to come get you instead. While I completely 'get' that your son was trying to be a good big brother obviously a dog is not able to 'get' this same thing. In that same right...the dog was just trying to be a good 'surviver' and grab food when it can.

I rescue dogs....and I have taken biters in MANY times over. I find that for larger breeds the standards are different -- since larger dogs can cause more damage when they bite. NOT to say that larger dogs do not deserve the same attention when it comes to biting -- they are all biting for the same reasons -- but smaller dogs are easier to handle. I have not yet seen a small breed rescue organization that does not accept biters....most all do unless the biting involves servere aggression issues.

I personally would try and exhaust all training measures possible before rehoming a beloved pet. Many problems can be worked through...you could even contact pug rescue for advice. Many of us who work with breed specific groups have different training tips that work for our breed!
While I agree with this in theory and am all for working out behavior problems at all costs in order to keep your pet, I am also not in favor of keeping a child in an environment with a dog that is drawing blood for any reason. Whether it is a behavior that can be turned around or not, you can't keep the child in that situation indefinitely until it is figured out. In light of the recent update of an unprovoked bite (which is what I was afraid of) that didn't involve food, I would say absolutely rehome the dog. It is true that smaller dogs are easier to rehab than the larger dogs because there is *less* fear of permanent damage from their bites but I don't feel that rings true when the ones being bitten are children. They can sustain very disfiguring damage from a dog of any size. And yes, a lot of times it is because there is improper supervision or training but it doesn't sound like that is necessarily the case here. Possibly a lack of training but I am not getting the sense that the supervision is lacking. It is not fair to anyone, including the dog, to live in constant tension waiting for the next bite to happen. I am glad to hear that it is more common for rescues to take the smaller dogs that bite. That is very good news for this pug and I hope someone has an open spot to take her. In our case with a Giant Breed, we would have this dog PTS due to the unpredictability that was just posted IF we even agreed to take it which is highly unlikely. We wouldn't have a choice. But, again, my breed is one that can potentially maul even an adult.

But I stand even firmer in my recommendation to rehome the dog now that she has bitten without having been provoked with food.
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#10 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I didn't see any food. It is possible that she thought a toy was food or maybe there was a crumb or something that I didn't see or maybe a smell of food, but he certainly wasn't taking anything away from her.


I appreciate all the really well thought out answers you guys have given me. My husband has only heard the "I would shoot that dog so fast...." sort of stuff, which doesn't sit well with us since we really love this animal and want to be sure we are weighing the situation very carefully... for all involved. My children are my absolute first priority, but this dog certainly isn't disposable to us either... know what I mean?

I have been looking into retraining her, but my big worry is what to do with her and the kids in the meantime as I don't want to risk another bad bite while she is going through the process. Right now she is in her crate because I don't even know what else to do during the hours that my kids are awake and running/crawling around. She is a pug and it is supposed to be really hot here today so I can't even just let her outside (and because of the bite, she isn't allowed to be out there without me anyhow).

I let my husband know that she bit again and he contacted the local pug lovers group and explained the situation and we will see if we get any answers back. She has never, ever, ever bitten or even snarled at an adult so I am hopeful that in a childless home, she could do ok and be retrained and live out her natural life very happily. I am hopeful for her.

This sucks.

Erika, mama to three beautiful kids (plus one gestating), and wife to one fantastic man.

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#11 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 03:34 PM
 
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More I do feel you are doing the right thing as hard as I know it is.
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#12 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh and just a question that goes along with all of this... is it normal for a dog to bite with no warning growl, showing teeth, nothing? She has never made a noise when biting, not even with the big bite that got stitches. She has never shown any anger or aggressive behavior accept the bite itself.

I think most of the guilt from the idea of rehoming the dog comes from my kids as they want to keep her. My son is totally not even close to scared of her. and my oldest pulled the whole Lilo and Stitch guilt trip on me about how family means no one gets left behind.

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#13 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 03:35 PM
 
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even if the locals are full up, there are transport networks amongst rescue orgs- you are luck, in that pug lovers are pretty intense about saving 'their' breed.
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#14 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 03:48 PM
 
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No, it's not typical for a dog not to "warn" first. Not that it doesn't happen but even in their packs they will usually show body language and/or verbally "warn" before a "correction" is made. I do feel that this is a pack issue rather than all out aggression being that she hasn't ever shown this behavior toward you or your DH but zero warning is not typical. And that reason, on top of the biting itself, makes me even MORE sure that you are doing the right thing because it makes it very difficult to correct a behavior in training before it gets ugly if they don't show any warning signs first. I would question you if your kids WEREN'T your priority personally. There is NO WAY I would take chances with a biting dog of any size with toddlers in the house. And I am in rescue full time too. I certainly would not suggest that someone without serious training experience experiment with their children during that training because that is basically what you would have to do in this situation to *see* if your training was beneficial.
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#15 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 04:12 PM
 
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No, it's not typical for a dog not to "warn" first. Not that it doesn't happen but even in their packs they will usually show body language and/or verbally "warn" before a "correction" is made. I do feel that this is a pack issue rather than all out aggression being that she hasn't ever shown this behavior toward you or your DH but zero warning is not typical. And that reason, on top of the biting itself, makes me even MORE sure that you are doing the right thing because it makes it very difficult to correct a behavior in training before it gets ugly if they don't show any warning signs first. I would question you if your kids WEREN'T your priority personally. There is NO WAY I would take chances with a biting dog of any size with toddlers in the house. And I am in rescue full time too. I certainly would not suggest that someone without serious training experience experiment with their children during that training because that is basically what you would have to do in this situation to *see* if your training was beneficial.
I in NO way was referring to further getting advice regarding training as "experimenting" with her children and furthering the risk of biting. There are ways to separate children from animals (i.e. baby gates, etc.) while training is ongoing. I do hope that the pug lovers group will offer you some answers. I know that we have had SEVERAL mamas in our rescue organization have issues at one time or another that have been worked out. BEING A RESCUER OF A SMALL BREED I can speak from experience about what it is like to have a biter AND a toddler in the same home. My dogs are always well monitored around my child...and to that degree I was aware that when I had children 'NO' dog is 100% safe around children. The fact is...children are a threat to animals because of their size and the noises they make...I was fully prepared when I had my son to handle these issues should they arise.

I find NO issue with the poster finding rescue if it is available but I do not feel that is the only option here...and I also do not think she would be risking another bite by investigating training further.

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#16 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 04:30 PM
 
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Wow, I could not ever keep a dog that bit my kids... On man, I know this has to be highly emotional for you and I sympathize. It is definetly, IMHO, time to find that pup a new home that includes absolutely no small children.

When we got our dogs, we had a 2 year old and practically the only concern of the animal shelter placement workers was the dog's temperament. They did something called a temperamant test to each dog we applied for and FINALLY they found us Tucker, a dog so mellow you could take food out of his mouth... because you never know what kids will do when your back is turned! We also have Jack, he is not quite that mellow but he's pretty close. If either one ever bit anyone who wasn't breaking into our home they would have to go. No ifs ands or buts. It just isn't worth it to risk my kids.
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#17 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 04:43 PM
 
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Lokidoki - Please understand that I was not trying to get your back up or criticize what you are doing. If you are able to successfully rehab biters without putting your child in danger then that is wonderful and I give you HUGE kudos because it is a LOT of work to constantly keep everyone separated. I have a lot of respect for someone that has the patience and knowledge to do that. And you are absolutely right in that no dogs can be trusted 100% of the time to NEVER get ugly when they feel threatened. My only true question about what you said (the only one because I agreed with 98% percent of it) is how would you suggest testing the dog with the children to see if the training worked? I'm not sure I could do that. And with this pug being only 6 years old, it would be very difficult to keep the dog and child(ren) separated indefinitely for the rest of the dog's life. There just doesn't seem to be a safe or feasible answer other than placing the dog in a loving home without the threat of children. Believe me, I am a huge supporter of finding every way possible to work with your pet but not at the risk of the children. And I know you are not suggesting risking the children either. Not implying that at all and didn't intend to come across that way.
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#18 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 04:59 PM
 
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Lokidoki - Please understand that I was not trying to get your back up or criticize what you are doing. If you are able to successfully rehab biters without putting your child in danger then that is wonderful and I give you HUGE kudos because it is a LOT of work to constantly keep everyone separated. I have a lot of respect for someone that has the patience and knowledge to do that. And you are absolutely right in that no dogs can be trusted 100% of the time to NEVER get ugly when they feel threatened. My only true question about what you said (the only one because I agreed with 98% percent of it) is how would you suggest testing the dog with the children to see if the training worked? I'm not sure I could do that. And with this pug being only 6 years old, it would be very difficult to keep the dog and child(ren) separated indefinitely for the rest of the dog's life. There just doesn't seem to be a safe or feasible answer other than placing the dog in a loving home without the threat of children. Believe me, I am a huge supporter of finding every way possible to work with your pet but not at the risk of the children. And I know you are not suggesting risking the children either. Not implying that at all and didn't intend to come across that way.
The poster right before yours mentioned temperament testing...this is exactly what I would suggest. Since it appears that this dog has an issue with food....per the poster...I believe it is a worthwhile effort to find a trainer who can work to establish pack order and test the dog prior to re-introducing the dog to the children. YES, it is hard work and it does take patience but my dogs are every bit as much my children as my own child is...and I knew when I made the choice to have a child that I have a few dogs that can be issues at times. My child is never in a position with food in his hands...he only eats in his high chair to avoid any misperception by the dogs that the food is theirs to eat.

To think that a dog should react differently just because it is a child rather than a dog is what I am getting at here....we can not expect a dog to know that it is not okay to take food when they see it...that is a matter of training. If you have never taught a dog to refrain from getting the food it wants...then it will take it...and if taken from them it will lash back. While this is an overgeneralization....it is the key to 'knowing' and working with dogs.

You will never see me post on this board to rehome a dog or put a dog to sleep merely based upon what someone has posted. I cannot speculate on what or why this dog bit...that is why it is important to have a trainer come to the home and work with the dog and the family. There may have been warnings (low growl or some kind of expression that the family did not catch) and there may be very easy ways to avoid the issues. Those are NOT known unless a trainer is brought to the home to work with the animal. I think there are very few instances like this that cannot be worked thru.

One of my own has snapped at my son before. I happened to be right there, able to step in and mediate the situation. My sister has 2 dachshunds...one of which has bitten...drawn blood...and they have worked out the situation and she still has her 2 dachshunds and her boys still love the dogs! It is not an end all....in my own belief. YES it does take patience...but everything in parenting takes patience...and if you are committed to the dog it is possible to work it out IMHO.

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#19 of 19 Old 05-14-2007, 05:29 PM
 
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I currently have a dog in my home ~ I was told by the person who adopted him to me (this was prior to my doing rescue and prior to my having a child) that he had tried to kill a litter of newborn kittens thus they assumed he hated cats and that he bit her nephew in the face and drew blood thus they assumed he hated kids. This dog has been in my home for several years now...he adores my cat (his best buddy was a cat I had to have put to sleep a couple of years ago).

What they did not know is that Loki (thus my screenname) suffers from epilepsy and was having reactions to vaccines which were making him possibly more aggressive! When we had our son -- Loki was the first to accept him...and absolutely ADORES him. Loki could not say at that time that something was wrong...the only thing he could possibly do is bite...that is truly a dog's only defense if he/she feels threatened at all.

I have posted in several threads before about aggressive dogs because it is something I have worked hard on in my own dogs...and in dogs that I have rescued...I firmly believe that WE as humans (not meaning 'we' as in posters on this board) domesticated these dogs and we owe it to them to not just pass them off when they have issues in dealing with humankind. They are not humans. We wouldn't do it to our children and we shouldn't do it to our pets. We all have the ability to work things out and separate pets from kids...is it easy? No, it is not easy...but we do owe it to them? Yes, I believe we do. Now...all of that being said there are certainly times that it cannot be worked out and after all possibilities are exhausted rescue still needs to be called...but I do not think it is the first option.

Again, I am not saying put your child in front of your dog and let the dog maul them...or anything even remotely close to that. By all means...keep your children safe...but do the same for your pets!

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