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Kristy
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OK, I need some opinions from people with long time dog training and/or behavior experience. I am debating butting in with my sister's family and want to make sure I'm not overreacting on this.

My sister and her husband have had their rescue dog since the first year they were married, a good 10 years now. He's a lab/shepherd/collie mix and a good 90 pounds. He has always had behavioral issues and I've never taken my kids to her house because the few times I have, he's growled and barked and made me feel the kids were at risk. They restrain him and then after awhile may put him in their bedroom until we leave. He's allowed to sleep on their bed, no obedience training etc.

They now have a 13 month old son and have tried to be very careful monitoring the interactions between dog and child. It's not been too tough with an infant and they work full time, only have a lot of time at home on weekends.

Well of course you know I'm going to tell you that the dog was cleaning up the high chair, baby toddled over when parents weren't looking. Dog bit baby. Thank Heaven it was only 3 stitches on his lip at the emergency room.

The dog needs a new home and they had begun looking for one. I am upset because a friend of theirs suggested they bring in a trainer to advise and evaluate, and of course they are desperate to keep their first 'baby' and are grasping at straws and plan to do this. I know that the chances of finding an appropriate home with no kids for a 10 or 11 year old dog are not good.

The time to bring in the trainer was before the baby was born or even when they realized that they couldn't let the baby near the dog. They have never really establised the dog's correct position in the house and it seems a little late in the game now, especially given that this dog has never been trustworthy with strangers or children. They don't have the experience that is necessary to manage this dog, and I am so worried that since it's happened once, it will happen again and with much more serious consequences.

I am so worried that they are making a serious mistake by keeping the dog in the home. He's an indoor dog and has always been their baby. I have been a dog person all my life and the thought of this dog having to be euthanized makes me sick. However, the thought of my nephew being seriously injured is even more upsetting.

Am I over-reacting? I will not stand by and not say something. If anything happens to that child, I need to know I tried to intervene. Advice please. Do rescue groups even take a dog like this? He's not good with other dogs either, tries to dominate etc.
 

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They would be very hard pressed to find a rescue that will take an older dog who has a bite history.

That said, I do believe that they should consult with a trainer. I also think that they should never, ever leave that child unattended around the dog. Especially at the toddler stage. If they get the right trainer, they should be able to work with the dog and establish his place in the family, which is below all of the humans. Honestly, that may make him a happier, more stable dog. Dogs become uncomfortable when they don't know where they rank in the pack. Especially a dog who is anxious, which is where a lot of aggressive actions stem from.
 

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Mom to Bailey & Burgundy
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Wow - that is a tough situation. I think that had they been watching their baby in the first place, this wouldn't have happened. They know the dogs history, so you would THINK they would be extra extra careful having both of them in the same room! That just makes me angry - because I don't necessarily blame the dog in this situation...It was guarding it's food. If it has never been trained not to, that is not his fault.

I think it is possible to keep the dog in the home, and I really hope that this shook them to the core and made them realize how important it is to never take their eyes off of the baby!!!
 

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This is tough, I hope someone can make some helpful suggestions.

I agree with Melissa, I can only blame the humans for never training the dog and teaching him food possession is not acceptable.

Good Luck.
 

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Missing Naughty Charlie
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They would be very hard pressed to find a rescue that will take an older dog who has a bite history.

That said, I do believe that they should consult with a trainer. I also think that they should never, ever leave that child unattended around the dog. Especially at the toddler stage. If they get the right trainer, they should be able to work with the dog and establish his place in the family, which is below all of the humans. Honestly, that may make him a happier, more stable dog. Dogs become uncomfortable when they don't know where they rank in the pack. Especially a dog who is anxious, which is where a lot of aggressive actions stem from.
I did take on a dog like that she was cross lab/alsation also the same situation as well they asked me because i had no children.
She did bite both me and my husband quite badly she was like Jekel and Hyde but we loved her and would not have her PTS as some days she was good other's not.
In the end we had her fangs taken out no more bites and she then turned into a good dog.
Then when i lost her i was asked to take another one like that this time a golden but she was not as bad thank goodness and i really loved that dog she was my first golden :)

So there maybe someone out there willing to take the dog on.
 

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I would bring in a behaviorist ASAP if I was them. They are lucky that the child wasnt hurt worse especially with the history of the dog. Until they meet with the behaviorist I would keep the baby from the dog at all times. I feel bad for the dog because they knew there were problems and havent done anything to address the issue until now.
 

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Momma to angel Cody
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Personally, I would have to say something to my sister in this situation. A trainer may manage to make this somewhat better, but my conversation with family would be simply that they cannot have the dog and the baby in the same room. Period. The end. Ever. As they already discovered, all it takes is to turn your back on baby and dog for a moment to have disaster strike. A rescue will generally not take a known biter, and elderly dogs are difficult to place. I think their only options are total management or euthanasia, and I'd vote for total management first. Any second bite and the dog would be going to the Bridge.
 

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chew chew chew
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That would be the end of it for me too, if the dog bit the baby. But, if they are willing to manage the situation, I think that would be the best possible outcome, I don't think there's a rescue that would take the dog and that would free up a space for another dog to find a home.

I would go buy some baby gates, some doorknob covers so the kid can't open doors, and bring them over and have a talk with them. This dog should NEVER be left alone with kids. If that means the dog is locked in a bedroom or on another level for most of the day and has visits after the kiddo goes to bed, then so be it. It would be the kindest situation for the dog's last years. Not sure what the laws are, but likely the next time it happened the dog would be removed from the home and put down in a shelter - not the dog's fault at this stage...

Lana
 

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I would go buy some baby gates, some doorknob covers so the kid can't open doors, and bring them over and have a talk with them. This dog should NEVER be left alone with kids. If that means the dog is locked in a bedroom or on another level for most of the day and has visits after the kiddo goes to bed, then so be it. It would be the kindest situation for the dog's last years.
That's pretty much the only way that I can imagine keeping a dog that had already bitten the baby. And even then I would be very nervous about it.
 

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Missing Selka So Much
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Bites have to be reported. What was the city's reaction to this?
Especially a baby in the face with stitches!


I would have a heart to heart with your sister and see if you can make her understand how unlikely it is that this dog can change even with very strict training. They will have to be very vigilant to keep dog and baby apart. Doesn't sound like a very happy life for the dog being kept behind gates and doors.But in order to keep children safe, they will have to.

If they work with a behaviorist/trainer it will take alot of time and constant energy to train them and the dog! You have to be very consistent for it to work. And to be honest, if they haven't bothered to train the dog in ten years, is it likely they'll train themselves/it now?

I agree with everyone else. Rescues usually don't take known biters. Some will if they have a behaviorist. Our golden rescue had a dog that supposedly bit someone in the foster family. When the dog was moved, it never happened again. But that was an entirely different situation.

Good Luck. let us know what happens. It's a sad situation.
 

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the party's crashing us
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I would have a heart to heart with your sister and see if you can make her understand how unlikely it is that this dog can change even with very strict training. They will have to be very vigilant to keep dog and baby apart. Doesn't sound like a very happy life for the dog being kept behind gates and doors.But in order to keep children safe, they will have to.

If they work with a behaviorist/trainer it will take alot of time and constant energy to train them and the dog! You have to be very consistent for it to work. And to be honest, if they haven't bothered to train the dog in ten years, is it likely they'll train themselves/it now?
This bears repeating.

Frankly, unless they have a complete revolution and decide to go with a great behaviorist and commit 100% -- the kindest thing is to have the dog euthanized.
NO rescue group will take this dog. Elderly, large, known biter, behavioral history, owner turn in, mixed breed. He has every strike against him. If they take it to a shelter he will be euthanized the second they walk out the door.
If they decide to try to do it themselves and even do a good job of keeping baby and dog separated, via closed doors and gates, will the dog be happy? Ten years of the spoiled housepet, and now, relegated to the laundry room while new baby toddles about? Is that fair to him?
What happens when next time, the bite is more severe and the baby is permanently scarred. Will that make them feel better about keeping the dog?

Dogs who solve their problems by biting do not get better without serious behavior modification efforts. They don't stay the same, either. They get worse, because it works, and that biting threshold gets lower and lower.

It would really be hard -- but -- if you have a heart to heart with your sister, tell her that you will help and either take the dog yourself or accompany her to the dog's final vet visit.

It REALLY REALLY sucks but it is reality.
 

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I've trained my field dogs before I had children, now I have 5 kids (8 years old and younger) and training a pup with the child-factor makes it a whole new world. It is incredibly harder to train a housepet.
Consistency is key and with a toddler in the house, that goes out the window (if not totally, then significantly). If the dog hasn't been trained, or acclimatized to acceptable household living. From my experience, sorry to say, it ain't gonna happen.

That being said, there is absolutely no way that I would prioritize my dog above my children. If I felt that it was a possible threat to the wellbeing of a child then it would have to be removed from the situation (euthanasia or otherwise). To knowingly do any less would make me culpable of some form of negligence if anything bad happened to the child. (Even if not legally, that's my personal feeling).
 

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Marcy
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Three stitches to my baby's lip? Unfortunately three strikes. Shame on them for setting up this no win situation. Did the ER doctor not say anything?

Doggie deserves better and probably has no idea what is going on, poor baby.
 

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...
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This bears repeating.

Frankly, unless they have a complete revolution and decide to go with a great behaviorist and commit 100% -- the kindest thing is to have the dog euthanized.
NO rescue group will take this dog. Elderly, large, known biter, behavioral history, owner turn in, mixed breed. He has every strike against him. If they take it to a shelter he will be euthanized the second they walk out the door.
If they decide to try to do it themselves and even do a good job of keeping baby and dog separated, via closed doors and gates, will the dog be happy? Ten years of the spoiled housepet, and now, relegated to the laundry room while new baby toddles about? Is that fair to him?
What happens when next time, the bite is more severe and the baby is permanently scarred. Will that make them feel better about keeping the dog?

Dogs who solve their problems by biting do not get better without serious behavior modification efforts. They don't stay the same, either. They get worse, because it works, and that biting threshold gets lower and lower.

It would really be hard -- but -- if you have a heart to heart with your sister, tell her that you will help and either take the dog yourself or accompany her to the dog's final vet visit.

It REALLY REALLY sucks but it is reality.
I have to say that I support this, as well. That is a dangerous situation, and the safety of the baby must come first. Unless a home without children or other dogs, with experienced owners can be found. This family has their hands full with a child who deserves and needs all of their attention right now, and the stress and responsibility of having a potentially dangerous dog in the home is not fair to any of them - dog included.
 

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Kristy
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I want to thank all of you for taking the time to make constructive comments and not just taking the easy way out and say my sister is an idiot and bad mother. She really is not either, just took on a dog they probably never should have had in the first place and never fully understood the consequences of trying to treat their dog like a 4 legged person until it was really too late.

I 100% agree with Anney's comments and the follow up from pointgold and a few others. Thank you for confirming what I believe to be true. I do not live in the same state with my sister, so unfortunately this conversation will have to be had on the phone. I will let you know what happens. It is heartbreaking to me.

Thank you again, everyone.
 

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Kristy
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just hung up with her. They have contacted a certified veterinary behavioralist from University of Florida (my sister lives in Jacksonville) and will be setting up a consult. The dog is being kept seperate from the child with baby gates. I think they are doing this so they can feel that they've made the effort.

I let her know that I had consulted you all and what some of your concerns were. I think she is hoping that this behavioralist will have some miracle idea. I imagine that this person is going to pretty much say what you all have.

I'll let you all know what results from the consult.

Thanks,
Kristy
 

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WOW that is very scary, and it is a tough situation. I think letting the behaviorist have a word with your sister may be the best situation but I doubt it will change in the end. Do they REALLY want to risk another situation?

I have a friend who had a GSD, beautiful dog, family dog. However the dog bit someone not in their family. First offense, they paid the money and sent the dog to a TOP trainer. The dog was worked on first with the trainer, then the family came for training. Everything was going great. Then one beautiful summer day, friend was working outside, dog was just laying in the yard, neighbor came over for a visit. Bit the guy in the face, COMPLETELY un provoked. Dog was PTS that night.

It is a tough situation. I can understand their love for the dog, but the well being of the child is first and foremost. There could be jealousy issues too separating the dog from the humans, that could fuel more aggression in the dog especially toward the child (vulnerable). In the dogs mind it was there first.
 

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the party's crashing us
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Oh wow -- I bet I know who the vet at UF is. In fact she attended a graduation party for my best friend here at my house and saw all of Fisher's virtues :) She is very good clinically, although she was shocked Fisher was intact and not actively humping and biting all the guests :)
Anyways best of luck, please let us know how it goes. They are doing everything they can by going to the veterinary behaviorist first.
 
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