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Any hope for a dog that bites a child?

802 Views 12 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  TrinitysMama
This was posted recently on Life with a Babe:

I suggested that she post the question here--not sure if she will or not.

But I was wondering: is there any hope for a dog that has bitten a child? The consensus over there is no.

I know how scary it must be when something like this happens, and no one wants to take that risk with their child, but it still makes me sad
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Ditto on the sad. I read the post on life with a babe but couldn't respond. This happens so much. It usualy isn't the dogs fault, just situational.
Our dog bit our DD when she was months old. My husband let DD crawl near the dog's food, and dog (naturally) snapped at crawling child. (I do not really blame the dog - it was totally the adult human's fault, he should have known better.) It broke the skin, but wasn't any deeper than that.

DH went bezerk! He got down on the dog's eye level and barked and growled at the dog. (He may have smacked the dog, too, but we usually do NOT hit our pets.) The dog figured out that the baby outranked her in the family "dog pack".

And she never snapped at our daughter again. Ever.
But I was wondering: is there any hope for a dog that has bitten a child?
I think it really depends on the situation. For example a dog that is otherwise stable and well tempered nips a child because the child fell on it and startled it, should be excused from the bite IMO. A dog that in general has a bad temperment or was poorly socialized with children and growls at children and eventually bites the child causing serious injury becuase the child is doing nothing more than sharing living space should be euthanized. It's not the dogs fault it has a bad temperment or was not socialized, I just dont see a place in the world for dogs that bite humans (especially children) for no good reason.

I probaly have a different outlook on human aggression and dogs that bite children though... My nephew was seriously mauled by a relatives dog that had an extensive bite history but becuase the dog was a "nice" breed and a small dog nothing was ever done about it. In fact it took a few more bites to other people before the dog was taken out back... I also own a breed of dog where human aggression is not tolerated by breed purists, dogs that show human aggression are culled with out a second thought.
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My dad's dog bit my daughter in the face when she was 8, and she rewuired medical care and has small scars. He bit a lot of people, actually. For him it was sort of a "bite now, think later" problem, and when people moved suddenly he'd sometimes bite. He did stop and hasn't bitten anyone for over 4 years now... he's a sweetie.

Just one anecdote, and I think that the dog in the post is biting for different reasons... but I do think there is hope for some dogs who bite kids...

In this particular situation ,as in most situations posted on this board, people allow ther children to climb on the dog etc and the kid gets bite and parents can't understand why. I swear how many times has this type of situation been posted about, you would think by now the topic has been stopped into the ground and maybe, JUST maybe one person educated but alas thats not the case. You let the kid crawl on the dog, bite is the parents fault end of story, you let the kid on the furniture and the dog in the furniture, dog bites kid, parents fault, you let kid pester dog dog bites, parents fault. Dogs view children (esp crawling ones) as just another pack member because thats all they know. In fact they will treat the child as a lower pack memeber because thats the way the dog world works, you correct anyone lower than you thats out of line. It's the PARENTS job to teach the dog that the child is higher in the pack and to make sure the dog isn't climed on, pestered etc.... Taking simple measures sill make things go alot smoother and keep eveyone safe and happy. Your child will grow out of crawling etc and things get easier.

That's alright though, I'll be there to clean up after you. I'll be the one to walk them, feed them and try to explain to them why they need a new home. I'll be the one to have to go to your home and pick your dog up and see how it looks out my back window at you standing on your front porch. Heck some of them might even come to live with me where they will mope around my house missing you. Some will pass peacfully in a docs office or be given to a friend. Those will be the lucky ones, some of them get tied out on a stake or thrown in the backyard all alone rain, snow or shine. Some of them have even a worse fate, the gas chamber where they get to stuggle for their life while they suffocate for up to 20 minutes in a small box(not something I'd wish on my worst enemy). Why all because they are just being a DOG!
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thank you Milky Way

if this is the only time the dog has bitten the child, then I don't think he is a lost cause. more training for the pooch, clear indication that baby is above him and better supervision of baby.

however if the dog is constantly growling, barking or seeking out trouble with the baby that is a different story.
I agree that dogs (any age, breed, temperament) should not be alone with small children! Even if they don't bite, they could accidentally knock child over, step on child, etc.

DH and I were talking about this tonight. We have three dogs but no kids yet. We definitely felt like we would keep the dog, and just have to be more careful with keeping the child away. I was severely disturbed by the umber of people suggesting killing the dog. OK, if your not going to be able to do the dog training and child supervising necessary to make this work then find a no-kill shelter and get it re-homed.

I think there is also a lot you can do when the dogs are younger to help them be good with babies. For example, out dogs know that ANY human (not just DH & self) is allowed to take food from their bowls and out of their mouths. We also pull on their ears and tails, play with their paws. Push them out of their spot on the couch etc. Oh dear, now it sounds like we abuse them. We definitely don't hurt them! But we touch them in different places very suddenly so they learn not to automatically snap/bite. If my dogs are play fighting with each other (they bite each other a lot but w/o anger) I stick my hand in the middle of their mouths. Yes, I know that is stupid...but I'm willing to risk the injury to find out what happens. Better me than someone else.

But I would never trust my dogs alone with a child. And in this case even if you are watching from the other side of the room, the child is "alone" with the dog.

So, I don't *know* the dog from the OP. But it didn't sound like a truly aggressive dog. I just think the owners need to set better limits. Make sure they are not letting the dog sleep on the bed, go through doors or eat before them, etc. Also they said the dog had previously growled (w/ teeth showing) at the child. So why was the child given the opportunity to get bitten? There was plenty of obvious warning.
And I disagree that the dog can't adjust to the new pecking order after this. When we first got dog #2, DH and I were apart (b/c of work) for a few months, and he only came home every three weeks for a few days. so puppy did not get to know him at all. When he moved back in she would growl and snap if he got near her when he was eating, growl if he tried to move her off the couch, snarl if he came between her and me, etc. (She knew never to growl at me. I could put my hand in her mouth while she was eating, roll her around, whatever) She learned very quickly that was not ok, and it never happened again. That was when we figured out we needed to have other people work with her too so that she was tolerant of all humans bothering her, not just me. I realize this was different b/c DH is an adult who can assert himself and read signals, but I'm just saying that things can change if you work at it.

But the main thing is supervising the child. I think you have to be right there. If you are making dinner and the child is crawling around, the dog needs to go outside. As the child gets older, they can learn better how to behave properly with animals.
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Milky way. I cried reading the ending of your post. I agree with your post. It seems like I am always reading this scenario on here. I love my furbabies and I hate seeing people say a Dog is just a Dog. They are loveing wonderful beings who deserve respect and love like any other being. Thank you for your post someone needed to say it.
I just want to respond to the post.
His name is Fudge and he is a chocolate lab springer spanal mix. We got/ recused him from a relative who had treated him very badly. Because of the life he had he did things to protect himself such as growling at my husband and myself for going near his food, even when we were feeding him. He doesn't just play he wants to fight, he attacks other dogs etc.
So, when our DS came into the pic we knew to keep Fudge at a distance and to keep him outside if DS was inside.
So, no we didn't let Ds crawl all over Fudge.
This was a horrible accident and instead of blaming Fudge we blame ourselves for putting the two in this situation.
So, just wanted to clarify a few comments and say thanks to those who said some kind words.
We hope to find Fudge a perment home soon.
And just for the record, the thought of 'putting him down' has never crossed ours minds!

Originally Posted by Rico'sAlice
I think there is also a lot you can do when the dogs are younger to help them be good with babies. For example, out dogs know that ANY human (not just DH & self) is allowed to take food from their bowls and out of their mouths. We also pull on their ears and tails, play with their paws. Push them out of their spot on the couch etc. Oh dear, now it sounds like we abuse them.
I have seen this sort of training demonstrated and no it is not cruel. thel ady doing it was very playful and sweet to the dogs and they responded well. She also recommended a couple of other things on the segment such as putting clothes on and off your dog (I forget why, maybe just cause kids try it
) and putting something yummy on your hand and while the lick it off say "kisses kisses" so that when somene presents thier hand they will lick it and think kisses. I thiought the ladies advice was excellent. quick, non-painful but conditioned kept the dog from seeing those sorts of things as unusual.
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Another way to make sure the dog knows it pack order is to never pet it if it's jumping, barking, or even standing (make them sit at your feet first). This tells them that you control the situation and control when the petting will take place.

Originally Posted by mamabird32
So, when our DS came into the pic we knew to keep Fudge at a distance and to keep him outside if DS was inside.
Not ever exposing the dog to the child doesn't ever give him the opportunity to learn how to react around the child. Of course the dog is more likely to bite someone when he doesn't even understand that that someone is part of the pack, YKWIM?

If a dog is dog-aggressive and food-aggressive and human aggressive, you can't just deal with the problems by ignoring them and avoiding them! That does nothing to teach the dog that those behaviors are unacceptable. You have given the dog the upper hand in your family. Re-homing the dog isn't going to do anything to correct his behavior if it is just ignored again.

I don't think that the dog is a lost cause. I think that he needs a lot of training. You can't condone that kind of behavior in the dog and then be surprised when he does something like that. You should be able to feed your dog without him growling at you. That's not just a personality issue, that's a dominance issue and it needs to be taken care of.

A dog with aggressive tendencies is a huge liability. It will cost you much less in the long run to train the dog now, rather than ending up having to pay to have your child's face put back on or pay for your dog killing a neighbor's dog, or any other damage an aggressive dog is capable of.
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