How Can I Make My Husband Realize That the Dog Needs to Go?

Updated on July 10, 2012
C.R. asks from Olathe, KS
29 answers

Ok, 4 years ago our dog bit me and caused an emergency room visit. My husband refused to get rid of the dumb dog, and I finally dropped the fight after a few months. He loves his dog, but I felt he was choosing the dog over the safety of his family. Now, the same dog nipped at my youngest and broke the skin. I say the dog needs to go because he is unpredictable and I don't want to have charges brought on me for endangering the wellfare of a child. My husband now wants to take him to the vet to see what they say, but I say the dog just needs to get out of my house!!! What are your thoughts?

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answers from Lakeland on

Have you had the dog trained? Was it a stray or did you get it from the pound? Maybe someone else had the dog and abused it.

I can't see putting a dog down for one bite and a nip. What happened when the dog bit you? Were you playing, feeding etc.?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I agree that the dog needs to go. Regardless of whether it is the human's fault or not, unless the dog was flat out hit or jumped on, there should be no biting. But even then, in a house with small children, a dog that bites even in that scenario needs to go. Dogs that begin to think that it is acceptable to bite a human, especially kids, could begin to believe tht they are the alpha in the family. Again, no good in any situation for anyone, including the dog.

BUT, you both still have a responsibility to find him a good, appropriate home. H

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answers from Boise on

You need to give more info, like what was going on when it happened. That in my eye's would make a huge difference in what I would say.

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answers from Dallas on

You know, most dogs are NOT naturally aggressive. Most dogs situations, are due to owner error. Was this dog EVER trained? Is the dog taken on walks every day? (Not a backyard, an actual walk.) Stimulated, in any way? (Bad behavior in dogs, is often caused by anxiety. Pent up energy and lack of stimulation, cause anxiety.) Are there other pets in the home, that cause the dog stress? Insecure, anxious, and stressed dogs bite. It's a release of energy, and not necessarily an indication of their actual temperament. Additionally, if the dog is old or in pain, they can be prone to bite protectively. When did the dog bite? Was he being touched in a way he didn't like? Were you or the child near food? Was he trying to sleep? If you could explain the situation, that would really help. Sometimes, bites are the HUMAN'S fault.

With that said, I doubt you are providing this dog with what it needs. He will continue biting in an environment like that. If you can't give this dog what it needs...walking, stimulation, and training...I think your home is not a correct fit. That doesn't mean you "just get the dog out of the house." You STILL have a responsibility to this pet. You still SHOULD find this dogs a good, appropriate home. Perhaps a home with no other pets, or small children, and one that will be active, and get training. Either way, you still owe this dog the humanity of placing it in a home that loves, and properly meets it's needs.

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answers from San Francisco on

Four years is a pretty big span, and a nip is different than a bite.
Also, what were the circumstances, was it completely unprovoked?
Obviously I am an animal lover, so I always like to hear the WHOLE story before passing judgement.
Any animal, or person for that matter, can snap. The question is, is there a pattern of behavior that warrants putting the animal down?
(Trust me, adoption is VERY unlikely, unless your dog is a trendy/special breed, he WILL be put to death.)
I have a new kitten and my hands are covered in scratches and bite marks, nothing too deep or serious, and he is getting better every day with love, patience and training.
I don't know what to advise, just don't act too harshly without at least trying to solve the problem. A visit to the vet is a great place to start.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

My thoughts are that it is rather difficult to give any sort of informed opinion, when we aren't informed. Has anyone ever trained the dog? Seriously, did ANY ONE, especially in your household, ever make any attempt to work with the dog and teach it how to belong and behave within your pack (family)?

If you did not, then I would go one of two ways:
a) If you are unwilling to do what should have been done long ago, and take the time to actually train the dog proper behavior, then rehome it with someone who will.
b) Get some books on dog behavior/training (several, not just one---there are many ideas about how to train/technique, but they all have gobs of information that will continually hit the high points of dog behavior and WHY they do the things they do, or DON'T do certain things when they don't, and how the "alpha" dog behaves and the "lower" members of the pack behave, and how they communicate position within the pack, etc etc etc... )
AFTER reading a few books, get some dog training. Take a class WITH your dog and practice practice practice.

I may be naive, but I'm just not understanding what the vet is going to say. Either you will take the time to train the dog or not. ONLY if you have diligently worked to train the dog and still have zero success, would your vet likely have anything "new" to bring to the discussion. Are you supposing that there is a medical reason the dog nips?

4 years is a long time to have a dog not trained (which essentially means, most likely, that he has been unintentionally trained that HE is in charge). It doesn't mean you can't train him now, though.

And while it may be your husband's dog, or he may be the one who wants the dog, he cannot do all the training/teaching of the dog himself. Everyone who interacts with it (adults at least, preferably teaching the kids some things too) needs to be on board with the training. Otherwise, you will be sending mixed signals without even knowing it.

We have a herding dog (a German Shepherd). She still herds the kids, but she doesn't use her mouth/teeth. She is the gentlest thing I've ever seen when it comes to her mouth. You can take food or toys away from her with no issues whatsoever. She is delicate any time she uses her mouth. The only kids I don't trust her being around isn't b/c I don't trust HER, it's because I don't trust the KIDS to treat her respectfully and I am concerned they might hurt HER. I've seen many a child be too rough with a dog with no regard for the dog's feelings or even acknowledging that it is a live creature that can be hurt (sitting on them, pinching, pulling, swinging things that can hit them, etc)... Just because it might be a herding dog doesn't mean nipping would be an ongoing issue.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

A dog that bites, will bite again.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Have you guys actually put effort and money into training this dog?

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answers from Phoenix on

I'm an insurance agent so dog bites are a sore subject with me (no pun intended). I would simply TELL my husband the dog is going or I am going. There is NO way I would have a dog with a history of biting around me and my kids. Dogs are unpredictable and I don't believe training is an end-all cure for a dog that has already bitten. You also don't say what breed of dog it is, but frankly, it wouldn't matter to me. I would lay down the law on this and stand firm. Frankly, once that dog bites your kid, its too late then. This is something you need to be proactive about and stand firm to protect your children, and anyone else who is in your home. Good luck!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I have to say it is on you and your family. You made a commitment to this animal. Have you tried any training-and yes-I mean you-not your husband. The dog has to respect you and the children and this will take some work on your part-not just complaining to get rid of the dog.
How much exercise does the dog get? How much socializing?

Watch the dogs training shows-it is usually the people that need the training first.

And I would have to comment on Laura's experience-did you just pick the dog because it was pretty? You should have known something about the breed before picking it out to live in your house. Herding dogs can be wonderful pets and good around children-but once again-they need lots of exercise and training-I would put money on it that your dog got neither so you shipped him off.

Do your homework before you get a pet. It would save so many animals from being dumped into a shelter because people didn't know what they were getting into.

Unfortunately, the dog you may have may have to be sent to live with owners who can handle the issues you have created but before you get another one, commit to the effort of owning an animal that comes with. It takes time and effort and love-not just food water and shelter.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Personally, the dog needs to go. There was an instance near us where a woman left her pit bull alone in the room with her 3 day old baby for like 1 minute to warm the bottle (apparently it took both the mom and the grandmother to do this) and they heard the baby cry. Well they ran in there and if I am correct, the dog bit the baby on the head. They called 911 but the baby ended up dying from the dog bite. Now in the dog's defense, I don't know why you would let the child in the room alone w/ the dog since dog's are unpredictable. That's why they always say to watch dog's when you bring a new baby home. They will get jealous!!!!!

If the dog caused an ER visit regardless, the dog NEEDS TO GO!!!! I love our dog and she is great but if she ever and I mean ever bit any one of us and caused an ER visit or to draw blood, she would be gone. Get rid of the dog!!! Good luck.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

I'd get rid of the dog! But, if your husband simply won't do it, then hire a trainer to come out and teach you and your husband how to train the dog to understand that everyone in the family, children included, are over him.

What is mentioned in another post may be true, that he won't be adopted out if he is a biter. But I will say that social services may come after you and your husband if one of your children gets hurt again and you KNEW that this dog was a biter. And if the dog bites anyone else, you could get sued.

People love their dogs, but a dog that bites, whether it's under stress or won't fall in line with who is alpha, cannot be kept in a home with children. The children come first, no matter what.

Try the trainer, and then get rid of the dog if you need to.


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answers from Portland on

I would try to find an animal rescue, perhaps one especially for the breed of dog your husband has.

While I know this will be hard for your husband, I agree with you. If the dog is showing signs of aggression, it's time for it to leave the household. I know your husband really wants to keep the dog, so this would be my advice:

Have the dog stay crated or in the backyard (or wherever it is reasonably safe and contained) until your husband takes it to the vet. Go with him if you can. Tell the vet exactly what happened and ask what he/she would recommend. (We know-- but your husband needs to hear it himself.)

So very, very sorry. Dogs are like our kids. I've worked with families who have had to make this choice. It's a hard one, but better than CPS coming to investigate if yet another dog bite happens because the dog wasn't removed.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I'm not saying one way or the other, but geez, haven't you all tried a trainer? You need to get a behavioral expert in there. We had a "bad" dog growing up, but it was SO obvious why- we did not properly train him and a lot was amiss. I'm addicted to Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer), and we use his ideas on our new pup and dang that dog respects us, and he's a big sweetie!

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answers from Washington DC on

Exhaust all options before doing anything rash. First, young children and dogs should always be supervised when together. Even the sweetest of animals is unpredictable if, for example, a child trips and falls on him. Put up gates when you are unable to be in the same room. See the vet to determine if there is a medical issue. Dogs in pain or under stress bite out of fear. Hire a trainer to teach you how to properly handle the dog. Hire a behaviorist to find out why the dog is nipping. It could be something as simple as him thinking he is alpha and needs to be put in his proper place. Or he may need more exercise. It is difficult to give any advice without the details of the two incidents. By the way, they are 4 years apart, not once a week, which says something. Humans always come first, but dogs are not disposable and you agreeing to raise this dog as part of your family puts the responsibility on you to do the best you can for him. If given up because of biting he will most likely not be adopted.

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answers from Portland on

Show him these photos. Even one quick bite can do serious and scarring damage to a child's face, neck or body.

Hope your household comes to a workable solution. For me, I would not keep a dog with a tendency to bite, and risk a child.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from La Crosse on

even with out the "rest of the story" the dog should go.

It bit you.. you had to go to the ER.

It nipped your child.. a nip is the first step before a bite. Your child might not be so lucky the next time. I agree with you its not worth the risk.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

If it were me, and my dog bit my kid, yeah the dog would have to go. At least kennel him an area in the backyard.... but still... I dunno. I think I'd want it gone too.
You have to realize this is hard for your husband, he loves the dog.. it's almost like giving up a kid... even if you have a bad, mean kid, you don't just give them up.. ya know?
So, have some more talks with hubby, but be sentimental, logical, caring, and understanding... let him make the decision AFTER you make your sweet and logical point. Surely he wont want his kids in jeopardy and he will make the right decision.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

He does need to go, sorry to say. We had a dog that I loved very much. But he had some bad hips and he was getting older (and neurotic) and sometimes when my son was around he would kind of snarl at him and even snapped a couple times. He never bit or even touched my son. We took him to the vet to see if we could give him something to sort of relax him or sedate him or whatever so that he would not be so tightly wound. The vet said it wasnt worth the risk especially with the two kiddos around (our daughter was just newborn at the time). So he said even with medicine etc it just wasnt worth the risk. So good luck to you!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

The dog does not need to get out of the house. The dog needs to be put to sleep. Dogs are a huge cause of facial injury for children. You CANNOT just give the dog to a shelter - if the dog maims someone, you will be responsible. If you chose to keep the dog you need to NEVER allow the dog and child to be in contact without a responsible adult present. You also need to work with a behaviorist (ask your veterinarian for a recommendation) as well as teach your children how to interact with dogs in a non-threatening way.

I am a veterinarian, so I work with dogs every day. It doesn't matter whether it is the dog's 'fault' or not. What matters is your children's safety. Even a little dog can blind a child.

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answers from Seattle on

We had a dog that consistently nipped our kids. Couldn't get him to stop. We took him in to a variety of specialist and were told that the dog was trying to herd our children...that's what he was bred to do. I was so sick of the dog nipping my kids. THen one day my boy was playing with one of his action figures and the dog took it. MY son went to go and get it back and the dog bit him. THe dog was given to PAWS later that week.
I told them that he bit the kids and nipped at them. It took a month, but they finally got him in a home with an older married couple that didn't have any children. Perfect for him.
I sat my husband down and told him that it was the kids and I or the dog.
Apparently someone felt the need to comment on my experience. NO...I did not pick the dog cuz he was "pretty". I picked the dog because I was told that he was one breed of dog and then as he grew it became obvious that he was NOT at ALL what we were told he was. I did my best with the dog and I was heartbroken when we had to get rid of him. But, I could not keep a dog that was "nipping" my children and drawing blood. I feel perfectly content with my decision, TYVM.

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answers from San Francisco on

I'm not a dog person to begin with, they just put me on edge so my reaction comes from mindset where I don't think of them as my kids. My kids are my kids. I understand that people do but if it were me, after the first bite, I'd have killed the thing with my bare hands and buried it in the yard. If the bite you suffered had happened to your neighbor, and they reported it, your dog would not still be alive to have an opportunity to bite your child.

I'd have reported the dog myself and let my husband deal with the system. I'm not going to argue with him. I'll let the professionals do it. He can get all blue in the face and holler and stomp his foot but a court order is a court order.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Go ahead to the vet so that you aren't the bad guy here. I have a feeling the vet will back you. In fact, I'd call ahead to clue the vet in. I do think it would be best for your marriage instead of the dog secretly disappearing one day.

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answers from Indianapolis on

All animals are unpredictable. Even the tamest, most lovable pet can become aggressive with old age or changes in their environment. Google dog attacks on children. Show him the results. You're going to have to help him understand that the dog *could* do that to one of the kids, or you, someday. If he still refuses to see that the dog is a danger, then I personally would get rid of the dog and tell him it ran away. My kids won't be put in harm's way just to keep a pet.

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answers from Chicago on

We had a cat that was ornery like this, but luckily she preferred to stay under our bed so it wasn't much of a problem with the kids.

This is how it would go down in my house. If hubbie insisted on keeping the dog, we would be visiting the vet regularly and paying the bill as we went, anything the vet suggested to tame the dog would be done - we'd end up paying the vet tons of money and my husband would start to have a fit about the expense.

We'd hire a trainer to come to the house for a premium to train the dog. Again, hubbie would not appreciate the expense.

Eventually my husband would get tired of paying the bills and would make a decision to keep doing so or give up the dog, because ignoring the problem is not an option. Maybe after all the expense, you'll have a decent dog on your hands.

Maybe your husband would feel differently if he had to start giving up some things that are important to him to manage the dog situation, because it should be his sacrifice, not yours.

But my husband is very responsible with money (i.e. bordering on frugal) so this would work in my house - not sure about yours.

Good luck.

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answers from Cumberland on

Put a pillow over his face-not your husband-the dog. Just kidding-dogs can be retrained and their behavior modified-but does the little one really need to be the test case? If a dog put a tooth on my child-it would no longer be my dog. I have written this before, in our home, we have a pit bull; if, during play, were one of her teeth to so much as graze our skin and we say "ouch"-her lower lip literally quivers with sadness and remorse.

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answers from Denver on

without all the details, hard to say absolutely the dog must go - but yeah, I"m 90% there with just the two, broke skin, bites.

first time there should have been a trainer called in. since that didn't happen and the dog has bit again, he has to go. let him take the dog to the vet but go with him so the vet knows this is strike two.. the vet will have to report the dog as a vicious dog (at least in colorado) - two strikes at this point. honestly - you're looking at having to put the dog down. unless you lie, a shelter will not rehome this dog. you could try calling a trainer in at this point; but again, if skin has been broken, the dog must be reported by any animal professional (in Colorado, anyway). you're going to have the pros and laws behind you. and once the dog is reported - your homeowner's will not cover further incidents - a problem if a friend gets bit.

of course, if there's no reporting....things can continue. I'd put my foot down this way: unless he can guarantee that the dog will be kenneled when anybody else's child is in your home (and he can't, of course, because he's not there and you can't trust the kids to do it, etc., etc.) you're asking for huge liability. he is really willing to sacrifice his kids' (and the family) having guests/play dates? that is what he is asking on top of risking his own kids.

so sad...I'm an animal lover (have three dogs) but sometimes their humans don't do what is needed early on. we had one that had fear aggression - we rehomed with someone who committed to using a trainer. it was best for the sake of the dog and the family. I just couldn't do it with elementary aged children - too much risk for their friends. luckily, everyone understood (including the kids) so not nearly as hard a situation.

good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Ummm, I think a nip that draws blood is a bite... The dog needs lots of training which I guess if he hasn't gotten he's not going to get. If hubby is willing to risk his family's safety to keep the dog around I'd get a muzzle and make the dog wear it ALL the time.



answers from Kansas City on

I suggest YOU go to the vet with the ENTIRE family so they can see the ages of kids, (one of which it bit) and meet you, whom the dog bit also. You also can give your side of the story (gently but firmly). The thing is, if the vet says you have to get rid of the dog, your husband could be mad if you push it in his face. This isn't a power struggle, this is a safetly issue. Perhaps you could get a new puppy breed known for their friendliness, as a family pet together once things settle down.

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