April 22, 2008,
C.N. asks from Norristown, PA on February 11, 2008
Help! My Dog Bit My Son
I considered myself "very meticulous" about watching my son around our dogs. We have 2 dogs - a 3yo black lab and a 2.5 year old lab mix. My son, who is 18 months, loves dogs and may even think he is a dog. However, this morning, he approached my dog who was sleeping on his dog bed -- not sure exactly what my son did it was soo quick, but the dog bit him.
The next thing I know I picked my son up and noticed the blood on his face and held a compress on it to stop it from bleeding. Once I thought I had the blood under control, I examined the wound and then went to find the dog -- by that time the dog (my lab mix) was hiding under the kitchen table. I grabbed him by the collar and put him in his kennel down the basement. My other dog (the black lab) followed with her tail between her legs.
I am upset, shocked and embarrassed. I took my son to daycare this morning after washing the wound and putting neosporin on it. Daycare said he couldn't have an open wound and I took my son to the ER for treatment. They washed it again and put "glue" on the wound instead of stitches. He is now on Augmentin (antibiotic). BTW: the wound is on his face -- the big cut is on his forehead and there are little lacerations around his eye. Not tremendous damage, but its a sight.
Anyone faced this before?
Info on the dog -- he is 2.5, neutered, had him since he was a puppy, he's attended basic obedience class and is seen by the vet 2X's a year. All shots up to date and I had him temperment tested 2Xs alread b/c I was worried about my son and the dogs.
So What Happened?™
Thank you for ALL of your responses -- they were certainly mixed, but all appreciated. Here's what happened (segment 1) and where we go from here. Since I took my son to the ER, I had to file dogbite paperwork for Montgomery County. The dog was to be in "quarantine" for 10 days. Since he was a family pet, I could keep him at home with supervised visits outside to use the facilities, but he wasn't allowed to go anywhere except the vet. I had a follow up visit for my son, and the pediatrician said his dermabond "suture" looked good, no infection and healing well. My son's other cuts healed very quickly, nothing noticable around the eye now. (BTW: He fell at daycare the next day, reopened his cut and the doc said there was nothing more we could do until the dermabond came off b/c the cut didn't "bleed out".. instead it formed a big bruise and the dermabond helped "clot" the new wound. It's been about a week and everything does look pretty good now.)
I spoke to several behavioralists, trainers and of course, our vet, groomers and boarding kennel. I also asked family, friends and neighbors what they thought -- if they ever thought my dog was capable of doing that. The groomers, vet and kennel said they never had a problem with my dog, that he was just the most friendly, loving animal and they were suprised. The behaviorists both said he'd need a lot of work as it didn't seem like my dog had any respect for his place, below my son, in the family. They said they had to base the incident on the location of the bite and my dog's first response was to bite.
We (meaning my husband from afar and myself) have decided to try to get my dog placed in a home without young children. My vet offerred to help as well and put us in touch with an animal rescue. In the meantime, I am going to start taking him to the behaviorist ($850 for 10-12 sessions) and a trainer. I still do allow my son to interact (with lots of supervision) with the dogs. I went about a few things wrong in my household and that's what I'd like to share with you... this is from the investment and research I've already spent on the issue with experts:
1. I didn't give my dog(s) space away from our common living area to just "get away" from us. My dog should have had his own sleeping space where he could have gone -- not necessarily just his kennel.
2. I have always kissed and hugged on my dogs and my son witnessed this. Apparantly, in the dog world this kissing and hugging doesn't equate and some dogs get very confused and frusterated by this. Don't get me wrong, dogs need affection, but it should be a good pat, scratch or belly rub.
3. My son was just tooooo involved, charged up and hyper when "rough housing" with the dogs. Even my good, olde' black lab shouldn't be played with this way, at least not while my son was sooo young.
I hope this whole experience helps you and, again, thanks for all your responses....
C.H. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
Hi, I can sympathize with your situation. I have been down this road. But I will tell you it was OUR fault our dog bit, in the respect of training or lack of. You and your son did nothing wrong. Babies will be babies and dogs will be dogs. I know from experience that the dog views the baby as lower than him. You will need to be very watchful(I Know that is hard with an 18 mos old baby, I have twins, and had 2 dogs for 8 years b4 the babies came). I made sure my kids had a safe area, the dogs were allowed to enter but were trained that they had their area where they could have there space without being bothered or tugged on by the children. they would pull on them sometimes, and growl..but were told to leave and go to their space, where they could sleep or whatever, in peace. The problem came with our 3rd dog. We got her from a shelter and didn't have any formal training(Our big mistake) and she had issues, I guess when we got her, from the beginning if you stood over her, while sleeping, would growl. As time went on, my son who was about 9 at the time, would tease her at times, put her in headlocks...but would love her too..and one day she was sleeping and he went over to her, and her lack of trusting him, she got up and lunged at him and bit part of his lower lip. Alot of people did and will tell you to put the dog down. But that is NOT the right thing to do..it is our responsibility to train our dogs to give them discipline(not harsh) to show them you are the leader, including your baby. You must start now..to teach your son to not disturb a sleeping dog, as that startles the dog. Try to read some books or go back to a trainer, who can advise you the best way to handle this. Even at 18mos old you have to show the dogs who is leader..the dogs place is at the bottom of the totem pole and they are really much happier there. We have a golden now...she has a pushy personality, but everyday we do down/stays.make her do something before she plays, gets love and affection..we love her to death ..and it is hard NOT to just love her and love her..but it has to be earned. Every day you should be implementing leadership. As your son grows older have him participate in training(training is a lifetime job for your dog to establish their place), help him care for the dog..with feeding, grooming..to show the dog he is his caretaker and boss. Never with harshness, which puts fear in the dog, which put them on defense and will bite. good luck, don't give up on your dog..he deserves a good life, just go forward with caution and training, as hard as it is, keep a watchful eye, try to keep your baby and the dog seperated at times when you can't watch or when the dog is sleeping.. Contact a trainer, a few sessions will get you started establishing your family as the leader.
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A.F. answers from Pittsburgh on February 12, 2008
Ok I didn't read the other responses to this b/c well I am sure quite a few would have made me pretty upset. I am sure you get alot of - oh no question dog has to go - and stuff like that.
However, unless they are in the situation then they just can't understand.
My dog has bit my son once and once only. My dog was also sleeping and I think my son scared him (he was somewhere around a year old) somehow and the dog bit him - it was really quick not a vicious I am going to kill you bit, it sounds like your dog did the same thing a quick bit.
When dogs bit like that they are trying to scare/warn the person to leave them alone - THEY ARE NOT TRYING TO HURT THE PERSON. I talked to a vet whom I trust alot and that is what they told me, and I also got many other opinions and also agreed. Of course I also got the GET RID OF THE DOG comments.
My son's bit was by his eye and bled a little but did not require stitches, we did not take him to the doctor but it was just a small cut. I am sorry your sons was a little more severe. I still believe the dog was not intending to hurt your son.
When dogs want to hurt they bit and don't let go and keep attacking, obviously that is not what happened in this situation.
I would definately keep watch on the dog, ours we took to the vet, and turned out he has a thyroid problem which can make them irritated and angry sometimes (he is now on meds and has been fine since then, even when my now 2 year old does stuff that well is definately rough). So I would just keep the dog and the child seperate for awhile - and work on getting your son reaquainted and aware of the dogs. I don't think this requires you getting rid of the dog, but if that is what you think is best (you know the dog better than I do) then of course you need to do what YOU think is best.
One last thought - it is a known fact - dogs live in the moment - they do not dwell on the past - they do not really think about the past - so I do not see this as a thing your dog will continue to do just b/c he did it once. Again, I think it was a scare bite, and that it most likely wasn't aggression and won't happen again. So good luck and I hope your son feels better soon (my sons seemed to heal fast, no scars or anything, so I hope your sons wound is the same)
P.s. My husband is in the Army too! If you have any questions or want to talk let me know!
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E.B. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
This is not the dogs fault by any means, as a dog trainer of over 10 years, I see this more times than not. Dogs don't speak our language, they don't have hands to push people away. This is how we would react if we were suddenly awoken from a dead sleep. He knew it was the wrong response, but hes a dog. Your other dog knew something bad happened, they can tell by our body language & and tone of voice.
I hope your son heals up quickly. You have to move on. Its done it over, dogs don't dwell on things like this. My advice, sleeping dogs need their own space. I.E. crate, room, something that will allow them to feel like they are safe like if they lived in the wild, like a cave feeling. No use yelling at the dog now, he wouldn't understand what it is he did wrong, sure take him to the scene of the crime and tell him hes bad...STILL he wont get it. They don't have the capacity to think back to what they were doing at that time & place to understand that that action was wrong. All your dog knows is he came to you, and he got in trouble. If I were him I wouldn't want to come to you again.
Training classes never end, brush up training is always recommended, even for the best behaved dogs. We don't work our dogs nearly as much as we use to, so training is a good outlet for the energy they retain due to centuries of having them be house pets vs working dogs. So keep all that in mind. If you get rid of the dog like so many are going to recommend, make sure you find a good reputable rescue that can find him the best home for him. Good luck.
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S.H. answers from Philadelphia on February 13, 2008
Hello C.; My heart goes out to you. My youngest daughter was bitten by our German Shepherd when she was 10 years old. The dog was seven years at the time of the incident. As with your situation, it all happened so quickly that I didn't know exactly why the dog bit her. I do know that my daughter had some friends over and one of the kids gave the dog some food. My daughter knowing that the dog should not eat what was given to him, tried to take the food away; that's when he lashed out at her and bit her in the face. Never before had he ever showed this type of behavior. So, as you see, I understand completely what you are going through. Be thankful that the ER Doctor glued your son's wounds. It will probably leave no scars. My daughter's wounds were glued and stitched by a plastic surgeon. Now, years later, she has no evidence on her face. We did not have our dog put down, much to the dismay of others. My daughter and him remained best buds for the rest of his life. I can't explain why he bit her. With my experience as a vet tech and groomer; I have seen much unexplained behavior in dogs. It sounds like you are a very responsible pet owner. That's a good thing. Naturally, you are going to be extra cautious when your son interacts with the dogs. But, be mindful, if you are overly cautious, the dogs will sense this and become jealous and confused. One of the biggest mistakes people make when introducing a child to existing pets is forgetting that a dogs mind operates almost like a childs. Remember, unlike our human kids, we can only communicate with our dogs through actions and positive reinforcement. So, if they feel slighted or forgotten they might get an attitude and act out in some form. You've done all the right things in hine sight. Just remember you are the pack leader and your dogs have a need to know that they are still part of your pack. In time, only you will know if your dog is safe to be around your kids. Since he's not by nature an agressive dog, I wouldn't rush to remove him from your family. But, for a while you will have to be diligent when your son and the dog interact for your son's safety, and your own peice of mind. I wish you good luck and hope it works out in a good way for all concerned. Also, God bless you for being a military wife, and may God bless your husband for what he does for our country, and may God keep him safe.
Kind Regards, S.
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H.F. answers from Pittsburgh on February 12, 2008
While this is very upsetting and the tendency is to blame the dog, it sounds like your dog did not intend to hurt your son. Think of what you would do if you were violently awoken in your bed while in a deep sleep. Your dogs actions were of remorse. While I think you may need to take more care with your son being around the dogs (put their beds and food somewhere not readily accessible to your son), I don't think it is actually as big a deal as you think. It sounds like his injury is more ugly than serious. If they dog was actually attacking your son instead of just protecting himself from what he thought was an attack, your son would be a lot more hurt.
I know this doesn't sound very comforting. My parents dogs and my sisters dogs have bitten my daughter and my son on occasion. One of the big differences between their bites and your sons is that they are all little dogs. So little damage was done.
The big thing to remember is to watch your dogs and your child when they are around each other. Never leave them alone together without supervison. Your son is still learning how to treat the dog. From your message, your dog was sound asleep when you were treating your son's wound. He went and hid in fear and shame of what he did. I truly believe your dog loves your son and was upset that he had hurt him.
While you have to decide what is best for your family, my advice is to be a little more diligent with monitoring their interactions. I would put their beds and food someplace out of your sons reach. This could mean gates to section of parts of your home or keeping the dogs in your basement when you are busy with other things. How you do this is up to you. Your dog needs a safe place to retreat to away from your 18 month old. They need to feel secure and able to rest as well. You, also, need to keep working with your 18 month old to teach him what behavior is appropriate with the dogs and what is not.
Honestly, I don't think this is your dog turning vicious as some responses have implied. This was your scared dog reacting intuitively to being startled awake. Ultimately, you must make the final decision on what to do. However, it sounds like your dog realized what happened almost immediately and was remorseful. However, you know your child and your pet best. If you are not comfortable with the dog anymore, then by all means look for another home for him. If you are like me, you probably still think the dog is worthy of trusting as being part of your family with adult supervision. However, I would try to give the dog his own space as well.
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C.G. answers from Scranton on February 12, 2008
I dont know if you are going to like this advice but really you only have two choices you were very lucky he didnt do worse damage but if he did it once he will do it again...you are either going to have to keep him away from your son and i dont mean just keep an eye on them together i mean never in the same room together or you need to get rid of him...now before you think this is from a non dog lover guess again...my dog is a big part of my family...i would die if anything happened to him...but my son does come first and for as much as i love spike if he ever did anything to hurt my son he would be out faster then you could say boo....I say this because i know of a story where a dog was watching a ham being taken out of the oven and the familys little boy (the boy and dog grow up together)(around 7) went to give him a hug and the dog bit him so bad in the face he is going to need many surgerys to fix what the dog did...and the police told the family the dog had to be put down because if he could bite a family member he would bite anyone. I hope things work out for you...you have a lot on your plate and i know you dont need this also...
L.H. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
Both of my sons have been bitten by a dog. One at a young age and the other a coulpe of years ago. The one that got bitten a couple of years ago had it right on his for head right in the middle. The er used supper glue to glue the flap down and To day they both are doing good. No real fear of dogs. They have learned how to act around the dogs more now and then before. Your son is young enough that the scar will heal to almost nothing. Show no fear to the dogs and your son will show no fear to them. Thou he might be a little afraid at first. Best of Luck
P.F. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
So sorry to hear about this!
I have 2 dogs, a 8 1/2 yo black lab and a 1 year old dalmation mix. We also have cats and 2 kids, age 12 and 6. I have been brought up with big dogs my whole life and I have to tell you, poke at your dog. What I mean by that is you, as the adult, bother the dog at meal times and sleep times. My parents did it and so do we. We have crates for the dogs and our kids knew not to touch the crates but as kids do...they will touch the crate. So we would grab the crate and shake and jiggle it, we would stick our fingers in it and anything else that would fit to bug the dog(s) and when the dog(s) would be eating I would pull their tail, grab their coller, ears etc. If the dog snapped I would yell "No! NO!" I would also pounce on the dog(s) while they were sleeping, sneak up on them etc. They are soooo used to being bothered that they don't care anymore. My son put 2 crayons up our labs nose when he was 2 years old and our dog walked over to me and sat down in front of me and looked at me. I removed the crayons (ewww) gave her a hug and kiss scratched her head and said "Good Girl!" and then the dog went into her crate and pulled the door over with her paw. My son was told of course not to put anything in the dogs nose, but the dog NEVER bit or even complained. Our dogs know that their safe haven is the crate and when they are done playing they go into the crate. We roll around with our dogs and so do the kids and when the dogs are done playing they will put their paw on our forehead, that means "stop" to us, the humans. LOL! We respect that and then they will get up and lay down in the crate. Now, we do not ever offer treats without saying in a sharp voice "NICE" and bedtime for the dogs is "Night-Night!" a few small commands work great, it does not confuse the dog and they love it. Repetition is key. There is also no sofa climbing and the second floor is off limits except for bathtime to the dogs. They are very good and everyone is happy. I also let the dogs sniff baby clothes of my friends and family and they have NEVER even chewed up our shoes, toys etc. They have their own balls and big rubber toys and chew ropes, they never try to even take anything of ours. Now, they do like to be spoiled with a fresh, hot from the dryer, smelling like downey, blanket for bedtime...and then they pass out sleeping. Small simple rules seem to work. I have had Wems. Chesapeake bay ret. beagles, german shep., labs, large mixed breeds and dalmations. This method has worked for all of those breeds. One thing to always remember...NEVER NEVER NEVER hit your dog, a dogs nose, back, hips are very sensitive and prone to serious injury and will provoke a bite in self defense. Sharp commands work best. The decision is yours about the dog, but, it seems to me the dog did show shame for bitting so maybe a little change in your training method would work. But if you do not have time there is no shame in trying to find a new home for this dog and be prepared for the other dog to act out for missing the one that is removed.
Good luck with this and I hope your son heals up great. Hang in there!
B.K. answers from Pittsburgh on February 12, 2008
Wow, that is a tough one. More than likely your son did somthing that the dog really didn't like and it was a one time event. When we got our dog (a retired greyhound) we went through a long adoption process and the whole family was taught how to handle the dog. Well when you have kids & pets accidents happen and of course my yongest startled the dog when she was sleeping and got nipped on the forehead. Like you I never really knew what she did because it happened so quickly. I had the advantage that my daughter was 4 at the time and learned quickly that you NEVER approach a sleeping dog. Which she had been taught before we got the dog! To this day she has never forgotten and always claps and/or call her name to wake her up first. We have never had a problem since and I have never regreted adopting our wonderful dog. You should really try to take the time to work more with your son about what he can and can't do with your dog, kids are never to young to learn. You also might want to "babygate" the room that the dogs sleep in when they are asleep and your son is up and playing...that will give you some more control over the situation until your son is older and more able to understand the rules of doggy. If you are afraid that it is just too much maybe a family member or friend can take the dog for you for a while?
Thank you so much for your service to our country...I know it is hard being alone with a small child while thinking/worrying about of your husband on active duty. His service is appreciated more than you know, and so it your sacrafice! Good luck & best wishes!
M.A. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
I am so sorry to hear this. We just went through an almost identical situation w/ our 2 yr old Weimeraner. He bit my 8 yr old in the face, almost to the point of needing stitches. It was over a plate of food on the table. My son was at the table drawing when the dog went over and began eating off of the table next to him. My son scolded the dog to get down and that's when the bite occured. He's never does this before. I heard him scream that "something is REALLY WRONG scream" and saw him bleeding on his upper lip. He still has scars from this, and the bite was in September 2007. I called every shelter, rescue association, but to no avail - no one would take a dog that has bitten. We were DEVASTATED with the fact that we would have to put him down. We just couldn't justify keeping a dog that might bite again, especially considering that he had gone for the face. After about a month of trying to figure out what to do (including talking to a Dog Behaviorist), we decided that we just couldn't take the chance and keep him. My husband took him to our wonderful vet to put him down, but GUESS WHAT!? Our vet said, give me 3 days to find him a home and if not, we'll put him down. He knew how we felt, this gorgeous, wonderful dog that we loved should not have to die. So, he contacted the Weimeraner Rescue Assoc. of NJ, and there was already a couple waiting to rescue a Weim - the best part was that they are older, no kids, no grandkids, and they used to breed Weims. So they came to get him after a week or so of paperwork and home visits from the Rescue people, and now he is living happily with his new family. They even let him sleep in bed UNDER THE COVERS with them! He's in heaven. We were so so so sad for weeks, my 4 kids (ages 5, 8, 8, and 10) were devastated but they know that we just could not keep him and he's happy now, and has 2 dog friends at his new home.
Good luck with your decision. What ever happens, I wish you all the best and most certainly know what you're going through.
Meg in Jenkintown
A.V. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
Unfortunately for the dog, this is a no-brainer. You have to find a new home for the dog that has no children. Whatever your son did, it scared/surprised the dog and it could happen again. It's not worth risking your son being injured again.
C.B. answers from Williamsport on February 13, 2008
If you can rent or buy the Cesar Milan Dog Whisperer DVDs, I am sure it will give you the Best dog training advice. Cesar has taught his young sons how to safely care for and respect big dogs.
Check it out and you will totally understand.
ps- Remember that if your son has a scar for life, it actually may increase his charisma- I like a man that looks rugged and has been through adversity. ; ) Help him see it positively as a child and teen, mom. Your reaction to it will help him form his own way of seeing his self.
J.M. answers from Pittsburgh on February 12, 2008
Hi. When my son was 2, he jumped on our sleeping dog. Our dog bit our son, but not enough for treatment. This is very normal. You have to watch your small ones around any dogs. Never let them approach a dog that is sleeping or eating. The dogs are startled when awaken and then they react instintivley. My son never approach his pet when sleeping again and they were "best friends" for 18 years. I hope this helps.
L.K. answers from Philadelphia on February 11, 2008
Boy, you had a rough day, I'm sorry to read that!?
I have 3 dogs and 99% of the time they are perfect around the children but one of them in particular is definitely questionable when she is sleeping on her bed and she is startled. She has even snapped at me and it really startled and shocked me! She hasn't ever actually bit down on anyone but she has snapped and I warn the kids to steer clear of her when she is asleep.
I'm sure your son was just being a toddler but the dog was also just being a dog, minding his/her own business and was startled. I hope your son isnt' afraid of the dog now. I would definitely get them back around each other ASAP.
Hang in there!
L.S. answers from Philadelphia on February 15, 2008
Wow! Hot topic. You're going to get a lot of mixed responses. This happened to us when my daughter was about a year, old enough to walk over to my dog's area. Without realizing it, she had gone to where his bed was and he had nipped her face also. We immediately called to have the dog removed! The breeder we got him from couldn't come get him for a week, so we had time to think about it. That's when a friend of ours (dog lover also), told me something I'd never thought of. My dog, when he doesn't want to be with my daughter, has nowhere else to go but to his bed. That is HIS place, and my daughter had gone to him! In dog speak, he did what one dog would do to another to say he was being bothered. Growling first, then if she didn't listen, a warning bite. Like another poster said, if he had wanted to hurt her, he could have killed her! He didn't want to hurt her. My friend suggested I look at this from the dog's perspective... the baby is new to him... he has nowhere to go for "the way it used to be (quiet)" and I needed to teach my child to respect the dog's space!!! Wow. Never heard that! My dog had been neutered and was almost 2 at the time. We kept him. He's going to be 10 years old this year! My daughter will be 9, and they LOVE each other so much. He greets her every morning and can't wait for her to sit down to read so they can cuddle together. He adores her! He's now coming around to my son, who is 5. Now that my 5 year old is more predictable and my dog knows he is safe around him, he's beginning to play and cuddle with him too. It's a beautiful situation for all of them and for the memories my children will have of their dog when they were kids. But I constantly teach my kids to respect the dog and the dog to respect the kids. It can work out for you. Your dog obviously felt bad. There will be a day when your dog loves your child as much as you do, and will protect him!
A.P. answers from Philadelphia on February 11, 2008
Oh gosh C., I feel terrible for your son but the dog too. Being a dog lover and having two of my own(one being a black lab mix) it's a hard situation. You never know what could have set the dog off. I'm surprised to hear that especially from a lab. I have two children and have not experienced this and hope I never do. If something were to happen to my children due to the dogs I would have a hard time getting over that but I love my dogs like I love my kids. I wish you all the best and I'm sorry that your son had to experience such a horrible situation.
B.G. answers from Pittsburgh on February 12, 2008
Okay, just reading your posting has my heart pounding. I had a dog for just a few months and he never bit any of my four children. But he did bite a stranger. I spoke by phone with a dog expert, "Uncle Manny," in California, asking if I should get rid of the dog. He shamed me. But he was right. A dog bites and it means something is wrong with it. Period. We had to get rid of the dog afterward, and I've never regretted it. *That* was a happy ending. Here's a not-so-happy ending one for you, though. And even if it's hard to think about, you have to. This is your SON you're talking about, who is so much more important that your dog. The story: I was at an ER several months ago with my 8-year-old son for a somewhat non-emergency, so I had time and energy to see what was going on around me, listen to people's stories. A mother was in with her young son, probably less than 18 months. Her mother, the child's grandmother, had been taking care of the little boy. The dog--a SMALL dog--attacked the boy (jealousy issues) and mauled the child's face and torso. It broke my heart to see the child crying in the hospital bed, his face battered and swollen. He was so bandaged up his own parents couldn't hold him. What was really awful about the situation, however, was that the dog had bitten him before. And the parents and grandmother did not take the warning. Take the warning. Please. Your dog is big. Your child is small. It's time to send your dog to a home where there are no young children it can harm. Don't let your sentiments toward the dog allow you to keep your own son in harm's way. You'll be able to forgive yourself for getting rid of the dog. You won't be able to forgive yourself if the dog attacks him again. That's what his was: an attack, not just a bite. And don't try to fool yourself into thinking it was a one-time thing. The "what if" of it not being a one-time thing is just not a risk worth taking. The fact that you're even asking this says you're concerned, as is the fact that you had the dog temperament tested. But so was my dog that bit a stranger. They're not guarantees. The fact that he went after your son? That's a guarantee of his temperament. You have so much going on in your life already. It's time to get rid of the dog, plain and simple. And I like dogs. But I like children more.
V.S. answers from York on February 12, 2008
Hi C., I am a grandmother now but, years ago I had a dog(german Shepherd/Golden retriever) and my daughter was 1+. The dog was absolutly fantastic with my son and daughter. She protected them fiercly,loved them,let them maul her while they were "playing" with her. My daughter even tried to eat her dog food when she ate and the dog never minded a thing she did. Then one day the kids were playing super heroes while the dog slept in her bed. All of a sudden my daughter hit the sleeping dog accross the stomach with a broom. The dog awoke with a snarl and narrowly missed my daughter's face. I spoke to my pediatrican about this and he said. " NEVER leave a young child alone with a dog. No matter what the breed. the greatest dog in the world cannot predict what a young child will do and when they will do it. Especially when the dog is sleeping. The dog will act instictively and cannot be blamed for their actions. Don't punish your dog for what he did, he knew no better. Your actions toward the dog was somewhat abusive. I have raised two grandsons with the help of a blsck lab mix, a chocolate lab,and a chocolate lab/springer spaniel mix. They are all wonderful dogs and absolutely great babysitters, as long as I am in the room with them. They would Never mean to hurt one of their beloved boys,but kids are unpredictable. My grandsons are older now and both love their dogs and visa-versa.
Good Luck, V. S
K.L. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
1) teach your son to "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie"... most dogs will react the same way when jarred out of sleep.
2) talk to the vet/SPCA on what you "legally" need to do regarding the dog, but be sure to tell them the child was bitten after abruptly waking the dog. Your dog might have to be in quarentine for a week so he can be monitored.
Being a "single" mom, I understand the comfort in having a dog to lend a degree of protection while your husband is away on duty.
M.H. answers from Raleigh on February 13, 2008
While I agree that it is not the dog's fault, you really cannot keep the dog. If your dog had bitten another child, the police could have been involved, the parents could have sued, and you would be held legally accountable. Do you really want to take the chance that your child or someone else's child is bitten by your dog? Like others have said, look for a better home choice for your dog and don't take that chance.
K.A. answers from State College on February 12, 2008
I would get rid of the dog. I also have dogs and small children and we had the dogs before the kids. I would not tolerate a dog biting my child. I don't think it was the dog's fault, but it is too great a risk.
D.P. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
My question to you is, are you willing to take the chance of this happening again to your child or god forbid someone elses child. I am an animal lover, I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter, horses, a black lab and a 125 lbs un neutered male doberman pinchser. I understand your dilema, however if you keep the dog and it does happen again who's fault is it? What if the next time the bite is worse? I love my dogs, do I ever!..and they were here first but if they even thought about making an aggressive move towards my child they would be gone. You cannot possibly be there around your child and dog every minute of every day. You have alot to consider but as the adult and the one in charge of your child's well being you cannot make a decision on emotion it has to be on facts and common sense. Good luck to you and I am truly sorry you are in this position.
E.G. answers from Harrisburg on April 22, 2008
I am very sad to hear the first response from some people is to get rid of the dog. That is very sad, your dogs are part of your family. Try to give the dogs their own space and monitor your son when he is around them. Sometimes little kids get too rough and don't understand. Especially when a dog is tired and can't get away from the child.Now if the dog were to start increasing with aggresssive behavior then you will need to find him a new home.But at this point try if you love your pets. Also is the dog alittle jealous that you aren't spending as much time with him now? I had a English Springer Spaniel that developed Springer Rage. He had to be put down after biting my son when he was 2 and 3 3 times. Then he bit me. We did try behavior specialists and all that goes along with it. It was very hard for me to follow through with. But he had a chemical imbalance that we couldn't do anything about. I love my son enough that my dog had to go. I now have 2 other dogs and no problems. One is a female English Springer Spaniel and a male American bulldog. Make sure you teach your son to be nice to the dogs. It will work out just give it some time and make sure you don't let your son alone with the dogs and make sure the dogs get the attention they need also.
C.R. answers from Harrisburg on February 12, 2008
The exact same thing happened with my son. We have a German Shepherd, and when my son was about 18 months, he was bit in the face. The dog had been chewing on a bone, and though we are very vigilant and know that a child should NEVER be near a dog who has a treat or who is eating, it happened quickly while our backs were turned. My husband was ready to take the dog to the pound. But we just became even more cautious; and both the dog (having been seriously punished) and our son (being scared to death) did not want a repeat of the situation so they were more cautious as well. My son gave the dog more space and the dog found places to go when he really wanted to be alone. We haven't had an incident again and my son is now 4 years old. It sounds like you have a good dog who was just pushed to its limit. The only advice I can offer is to be a little extra aware and keep them separated at times when the dog will obviously need to be alone (when sleeping, eating, having a treat, etc). I imagine your son will be wary around the dogs for awhile anyway, until the scare of this situation wears off a bit.
I know how scary and embarrassing it is. I was mortified to take my son out with the ugly abrasions on his face from the dog. Good luck!
F.U. answers from Syracuse on February 12, 2008
Hey hun... my heart goes out to you. My son was bit by our German Sheperd. My boy was 9 months old at the time. His wounds required stitches around his mouth and eyebrow. He still has scars after almost a year.
Anyway, Luckily we had some friends who were willing to take the dog. It's a tough decision to make, but I wasn't willing to take the chance of it happening again. Zeus was my dog, I had him from 8 wks, and he was 4 1/2 yrs when it happened.
Like I said, it's a hard decision to make, but like my son, yours was bitten in the face too. Hopefully this helped a little.
R.W. answers from York on February 12, 2008
I myself would get that dog out of my home if he bit your chid once he will do it again and maybe not be so lucky with the dog bit do not get me wrong i love dogs but when i dog bit a kid he will do it again
C.G. answers from Cincinnati on February 12, 2008
My heart goes out to you, your son, and your dog in this situation. I noticed that you had the dog temperament tested twice because you were concerned about your son and the dogs. If there is a major concern, then it sounds like you should consider giving up your dog(s) to alleviate some of your worry. You can go to www.pets911.com and type in your zip code to find animal rescue groups in your area. By the way, most rescue groups will NOT adopt a dog to a family with children under age 8 due to biting issues. The rescue group I volunteer with doesn't.
HOWEVER, if you would like to try to find out more about techniques to help your dogs deal with a little one in the house, I'd recommend talking to a professional dog trainer. Most dog trainers will tell you that we humans need to change our behaviors to help our dogs change theirs. Trainers will tell you what you can do with your son to help prevent this from happening again. One of the people who responded said she has been a dog trainer for 10 years. She's a good resource. Also, I worked at the PetSmart in Hamilton, NJ for a while and I can give you the name and number of the seasoned dog trainer there who can also give you some good free advice. Please send me a message if you'd like her info.
My younger dog has bit my 2-year old son in the face before when my son got in the dog's face. You just CAN'T watch your child every second. But my dog, who is only 11 lbs. never broke the skin. As others have said, this has happened to SO many of us, so please don't beat yourself up over the fact that this happened. Try to learn what you can from it and go forward knowing that you have a ton of support here. I'm not sure if you're at Ft. Dix, but I'm at McGuire Air Force Base, if you would like a person locally to talk to, please feel free to contact me. My husband was deployed last summer, so I know how it is to basically do the single mom thing. :0)
Best wishes to you, your family, and your pets!
J.B. answers from Reading on February 12, 2008
My husband and i have spoke about this many many times before we got a puppy when our children were little.Its a no brainer for us,i would have to get rid of the dog.I know you love him/her,but it would only take that 1 time for us.We have 2 dogs(pups) 17month old black lab/golden mix and a 8month old golden.Lucky they have never done anything like this.Before them we had a GS,she was 98lbs and the same age as our youngest child(10yrs old).We got her when he was very small,she never did anything like that.Its up to you on what you want to do.But i just think if he would bite him this time he may do it again.Hope all works out for you.
L.S. answers from Lancaster on February 12, 2008
Since your son needed medical treatment, which is on record, your homeowner's/renter's insurance can require you to remove the dog or cancel your policy. If the dog bites someone other than a family member, you could be sued for injuries and since it is on record that the dog bites, you'd have a hard time defending that claim.
I am so sorry that you and especially your little boy had to go through this. You have your plate full as it is with your husband serving. I want to acknowledge your family for that sacrifice and say "thank you".
A.B. answers from Pittsburgh on February 12, 2008
I am so sorry about your son. I myself was bit by a dog that my parents had when I was around the age of 4, I will soon be 26 and still have the scars. The reason that dog had bitten me was that he had a thorn in his foot and I happened to be kicking the paw that had the thorn in it. It was his reaction to get me to stop what I was doing. No I am not afraid of dogs and I own a lab/pitt bull mix who does great with my 11 month old and 5 y/o. Since the dog was on his bed he was probably startled and yes he is an animal so it was his reaction. I always believe that dogs know when they do wrong and since you found him hiding I would believe that he feels bad for what he did. I myself would either move the dogs bed to the kennel that you mentioned so that way when they sleep they can not be bothered by your son. All dogs have there limits to what they can take. If the dog would happen to snap again at your son then I would think about getting rid of him but as long as you watch carefully and teach your son that when the dogs are asleep that he is to leave them alone they will probably get along great when he gets older. Good luck to you.
K.W. answers from Lancaster on February 12, 2008
Let me begin by saying how sorry I am that your dog bit you son and you are going threw this alone since your husband is away. Hopefully the bite isn't too severe and in the end everything will be back to normal.
We currently have a dog and a 21 month year old. Our dog has not ever snapped nor bitten our son, but he has growled at him on many occasions, especially when he is startled. From your writing, you mentioned that the dog was sleeping. It's first reaction is fright and then fend, especially if the dog was in a deep sleep. Their brains do not process the way humans do, they are animals and no matter what kind of animal you take, well trained or not, they still have that instinct. By the way you described in your writing, the dog realized that he had done something wrong.
You received many good responses back on working with your dog and some to get rid of him. This is your decision, you know your pet and it's demeaner. If you decide to keep him, hopefully you will be able to work with him for this not to happen in the future. Best of luck to you and your family.
S.W. answers from Williamsport on February 12, 2008
You probably don't want to hear this advice, but get rid of the dog or both dogs. I know everyone loves their dogs, but they are animals. They instinctively defend themselves when they feel afraid of threatened by biting. They don't understand that your son is a baby - they just see him as an annoyance or someone who could hurt them. Some experts recommend not having dogs until your child(ren) are at least 5. Kids -- especially toddlers -- don't understand that pulling that tail or giving a big hug scares the dog. There is no 'temperment testing' or vet's advice that can stop the instinct of a dog when he/she is afraid. You can use a rescue or SPCA to help you find a suitable home - or maybe some other military friends will keep the dogs. It only takes an instant for your son's - and your - whole world to change from a dog bite, and next time you might not be so fortunate. Sorry for the doom and gloom -- I LOVE dogs and have had many, but feel strongly that families should put their kids first and maybe wait a while before getting a pet. Good luck!
A.P. answers from Pittsburgh on February 11, 2008
We had a small dog and my son cornered him trying to get something out of his mouth. The dog bit his finger...right through his nail. Our dog trainer said that we as humans forget that they are ANIMALS and don't have the ability to reason and rationalize like we do. They act on instinct and various things can set them off. She told me that when a dog has been in a house prior to the child...you have to be a little forgiving of the dog's actions. Afterall, they were there first and all of their training up until that point did not involve the "strange" and unpredictable behaviors of a child. Allthough I think that it is sad that your son had to have this happen, you have to understand that you brought these dogs into your home FIRST and that is all that they have known up until now. I wouldn't put too much blame on the dogs...or yourself for that matter. Sometimes these things just happen...they are animals!
A.B. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
Something similar happened to my daughter a few months ago. i have had dogs in my house for most of my life and wanted the same for my children. I have a 10 yr old female shephard, of which i have had since she was 9 months, and a shephard mix puppy, of which is about 90 lbs!! the older dog has become more fearful in her old age so we, me and my hubby, constantly talk with our daughter about leaving the older dog alone when she is sleeping or starts to growl. One night i was in the bathroom and heard my daughter scream. She came to me with bllod on her face and hands. Once i cleaned her i saw two scratches that went from just under her right eye across her face to the left side of her chin. The scratches were not deep but there was blood under her eye, under her nose and on her top lip. When i went down to where the dogs were, my daughter told me it was the older one. The older one was just laying in the middle of the dinning room floor. Therefore i believe that my daughter had to have gotten down to the dog's level and bothered her to have been scratched on the face. i did not get rid of my dogs but we continue to talk to our daughter about leaving the older dog be and when i leave the floor i try to have my daughter come with me as my helper.
J.H. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
It's a hard thing to do, but try to find another home for the dog.
D.B. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
I know you love your dogs and all but it's not worth your son's life. You got lucky this time but if you think about it, it could have been a lot worse. I think you should put the safety of your children first.
D.H. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
I was saddened to hear some of the responses of get rid of your dog.
This has happened in my house to my oldest with our senior blind/arthritic dog. She jumped on him in his sleep and he bit her on the face. I put neosporin on it and it was healed on it's on in a few days. Of course the dog got a scolding and my daughter has a new appreciation for being more careful around the older dog.
In my opinion in our house our dogs are an important part of the family and we wouldn't consider getting rid of them. My daughter needs to learn to respect the dog which she has and he needs to respect her which he gets out of her way when he sees her coming.
I look at it as if she had an older sibling and he hit her or pushed her, or even bit her you wouldn't get rid of the sibling. Things like this happen with kids even as much as you try to supervise them. Sounds like you took all the actions you needed to with antibiotics and going to the doctor.
Now of course you know your dog, if this kept happening then you should conisder finding a child free home for him but only you know the situation.
Good luck! And don't feel bad it's happened to a lot of us.
T.Y. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
You know your dog best and if you think it's going to be an issue (aggression) then you need to do something about it before something worse happens. That being said, I really don't think it was the dog being aggressive. The dog probably got scared and reacted in fear. It's a shame that this happened but more than likely you could avoid any problems in the future by keeping your son away from the dogs when they are eating, sleeping, etc. To train our dog, we would play in her food while she ate, bother her while she was sleeping, lay in her bed with her, play with her toys, take treats/toys back, etc. We did these things from the very beginning but it may not be too late to do it now. My son can literally walk up to my dog and take a bone or treat out of her mouth and she will just look at us with her puppy dog eyes. I hope everything works out for your family and your dogs.
M.M. answers from Philadelphia on February 25, 2008
My dog bit my son's finger once - very good dog, loved my son, let him lay on him!!
It wasn't his fault. My son was 5 1/2 so I quizzed him on what happened: I was in the shower & heard a yelp, then my son crying, coming into the bathroom... just a little cut on his finger. "what happened?" Buzz was on his bed, my son knelt down to pet him, and accidentally knelt on Buzz's paw. Buzz yelped, and nipped at him to get him off his paw.
I couldn't punish him. He was on HIS bed, his private spot, and my son accidentally hurt him, so he simply reacted, as any living creature would. My son was fine - I did the same as you, washed, antibacterial cream, bandaid...
My best thoughts & prayers go out to you - perhaps something similar to my situation happened with your son & dog?
A.D. answers from Philadelphia on February 12, 2008
Do yourself a favor and get rid of the dog. If he bites once, he will bite again....mine did.