Nervous of My Daughter Around Pit Bull

Updated on March 06, 2008
A.L. asks from Merrimack, NH
64 answers

OK, so here is my problem. My brother and his girlfriend have 2 big dogs and 4 cats. One of the dogs is a pit bull. Both my brother and his girlfriend are very responsible pet owners, those dogs don't say boo w/o permission. Very well behaved animals. Now my husband and I refuse to have my daughter (16 months) around their pit bull because of their reputation and how they just snap w/o notice. We've asked if when ever we go over there if they wouldn't mind putting up a gate or do something to make us feel a little comfortable with Brooke being there. They refused. To them these animals are their children and they feel it's cruel to do that. So b/c of this we just don't go over. This week-end it's my brothers birthday and so this will be the second year that I go over by myself because we don't want Brooke around the pit bull. I am really getting stressed out because I just want for the family to be together on my brothers birthday or any other occasion or event they want to have over their house. So every time I go over there with out my family I feel guilty . Does anyone have have any suggestions or input on this?

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for all the great advice. I can't believe how many people took the time to read my post and respond. Mothers looking out for other mothers and their children truly is a powerful thing.
So his birthday was friday and I sugested dinner but it didn't happen so I ended up going by myself. Couple of people asked me where my family was and I explained that todlers and dogs don't mix very well at this time. Ofcourse they adviced me that I shouldn't worry. Anyways, I plan on inviting my brother and his girlfriend over fordiner or something. That way they can spend some time with my my daughter.
Thanks again for all the great advice.
A.

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C.A.

answers from Hartford on

Please don't pass judgement on a dog for it's breed. Do you pass judgement on a person for their race? You say the dogs are well behaved, what more are you looking for. Any dog can snap if provoked as can any person.
Don't be breedist.

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M.M.

answers from Lewiston on

Any dog could snap without warning, not just a pitbull. I was the owner of a VERY loving pitbull that my little girl would hang all over and crawl on. It really all depends on how the dog was raised.

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L.R.

answers from Providence on

I am a mother of 2 children. I have always had dogs. When my children were born I had a 130lb Rottweiler. Everyone was terrified of him, but he was a big softy. Although I think your brother should respect your concerns and fears, you should also trust that he wouldn't put your daughter (his niece) in danger. I believe a dog is only as good as its owner. I treat all my dogs with love and a lot of attention. Don't make your daughter afraid of dogs because of your fears. Bring her over to your brothers and just be extra careful not to let her wander away alone with the dog. You may be surprised how wonderful this dog is with your daughter. It will be extra work for you, but her safety is first.

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T.O.

answers from Boston on

Hello A.,
I will begin by stating that I am a pit bull owner. I understand your concern about the safety of your child but I am extremely frustrated by your comments.

I would challenge you to consider what is it that makes you so nervous having your child around the dog. You have already stated that your brother is a responsible pet owner and that his dogs are obedient. I would assume that it is related to the media's portrayal of pit bulls as mean and viscous. Did you know that much research indicates that the most viscous dog is actually a Chihuahua? Perhaps you should do some research into the breed.

My dog, Abby, is the most gentle loving dog. She watches over our children (school age and toddler) and she is often the first to alert us when the children are ill or upset and will lay be their side until they are better often for hours on end without eating or relieving herself. I would trust her with my children sooner than I would my own mother in law. And if anyone ever suggested that I put her into another room for their convenience or comfort, they would be uninvited from our home.

Here are some sites to check out:
http://www.pitbulllovers.com/american-pit-bull-terrier-my...
http://www.workingpitbull.com/aboutpits.htm

I wish you more awareness. Tara

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E.R.

answers from Boston on

Hey there... okay so first off, I totally understand that you are nervous of your daughter around a big dog. I have a 4 month old and am always cautious at a friends house with pets or even with my own dog.
Secondly, I should state that I am a veterinarian and treat all types of dogs, and pit bulls, especially ones that you described as well behaved, absolutely do NOT snap for no reason any more than any other dog. I don't blame you for thinking that, as that is how they are portrayed in the media, but in all my research and statistics this is absolutely false. In the U.S., pit bull bites account for less than golden retriever or labrador bites. It is true that they are strong, so when they do bite it often makes headlines. Often the wrong type of pet owners are attracted to pitbulls as they feel it is a tough dog, and they treat them poorly and train them to be aggressive and these are the dogs that end up biting another dog, or sometimes a human, although that is actually very rare.

Soo not to overload w/a lesson on pitbulls (I really don't mean to preach) but pit bull terriers or american staffordshire terriers are actually one of my favorite family dogs. They are easily trained to be aggressive only b/c they want to please humans so badly. A pitbull terrier that has been raised and loved will be the best family pet imaginable, as they are known for wanting to protect their humans.

Sooo all that being said, you should most definitely be careful with your child around two large dogs, but if you are alright with her being around the 'non' pitbull then I would think you should be alright with her around the pitbull. Good luck with everything!

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R.L.

answers from New London on

I have known several pit bulls in my life and not ONCE have I ever known one to bite a child. In fact, they are better with children than most dogs I've known. If your brother is a responsible pet owner like you say, the dog is not going to bite your child. I truly believe that pit bulls are wonderful dogs, and its the owners that create a problem. If you're nervous, make sure your daughter is never alone with the dog, but I see no reason that she shouldn't visit her uncle!

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C.D.

answers from Providence on

Your daughter is your priority. You would never forgive yourself if the dog snapped for some reason and she was hurt. Don't waver in your decision and don't feel guilty for protecting your daughter. Dogs, any breed, are unpredictable and can cause obvious damage. I would do the same thing. I am amazed that your brother can't put the dog away for a bit so you can all enjoy some family time. It's not cruel at all to put up a gate (which the dog could probably jump anyway). It sounds like you are trying harder then anyone else to bring the family together.

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E.L.

answers from Hartford on

Hi A., I wish your brother would put up the gate for you or put the dogs in another room, I think that's a very reasonable request. With that said, I would just like to put in my two cents about pit bulls. I've owned two (and currently own one with a 5 month old) and would like to encourage you to spend more time with the dog yourself and while supervising your daughter. Or to do some research on the breed - these dogs are sometimes referred to as the "nanny" breed because of their ways with kids. Any dog can be raised to bite or "snap" around kids but if your brother is a responsible pet owner, hopefully he has trained the dog correctly. Anyway, I just like to say what I can about these dogs because I know they have a bad reputation and like to offer my great experience with the breed to counteract that. BUT if you don't feel comfortable please stand your ground - even though dogs can be like kids to people who don't have them I hope they would recognize how upset the situation makes you and how it's limiting their time with their neice. Good luck!

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M.F.

answers from Pittsfield on

You didn't say how old your daughter is so, but don't allow her to be alone in the same room as the dog. As long as she is within arms reach of you then go ahead and bring her to the party. do not for any reason leave her unsupervised, not even with another adult. Also try and see if the dog will obey commands from you. if it doesn't then don't go at all.

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S.I.

answers from Boston on

A.... I totally support your cautiousness near a pit bull.. Just go to your brothers house and have someone stay home with your daughter... invite him and his wife to your celebrations ( birthday, anniversaries, holiday parties, BBQ's etc) and keep her away from the pit bull... I understand the whole "I Love My Dog" scenario , but I do not trust pit bulls, no matter what... if they want to trust their dog, fine, that is their business..my suggestion to them is to keep the dog away from children.... you should not feel guilty.. pat yourself on the back for knowing your comfort zone with that dog .. I am a dog lover from the get go, have always had dogs, but have no use for that breed near children..stick to your guns, this is your daughter and it is your job to protect her....si

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C.F.

answers from Boston on

Hi,
I know everyone is saying that it depends on how the dog was raised, etc., but what about the genetic make-up of pitbulls? I think the most important thing here is that the dogs are known to "turn" on even people they love. Not how commonly they do "turn", but the fact that this breed does at all.
I would trust your instincts, whatever they may be.
I'm sorry you are having such strife within the family about this...I, too, wish they would just put up a gate for you. They are the one's missing out...on your beloved little girl..
Good luck,
C.

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D.M.

answers from Boston on

Hi, I just joined mamasource... I saw your post in an email update and had to respond. Don't go back on what you stand for. I understand you want your family to be together, but I have seen so many terrible things in the news regarding pitbulls, and I would hate to see a post from you that something terrible happened to your daughter. She is counting on you and I know you'll make the right decision, as you have been with your husband. I would say continue to go to the parties without your daughter, and maybe hopefully eventually your family will understand. It is hard because you said that the dogs are like their kids, can I take that to mean that they don't have any human children? They then wouldn't understand. Be save and keep your daughter safe, and these dogs can snap and don't put your daughter at risk.

Good luck!

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L.B.

answers from Portland on

All I can say is: Dogs are Dogs. I don't care how well trained or how great of a dog they are, they are still an animal. They do lash out when they feel the need. You can never really know if a dog will bite you. I am always careful with my kids, 8 and 2, around my in-laws dog, they have a blue tick hound, and he is a really good dog, but he is still a dog and he is unpredictable. Your brother should respect your wishes, I bet if the tables were turned, and he had the kid and you had the dog, he would feel different. I had a pit bull when I was younger, before I had kids, and she was a lap dog, she was huge, but so loveable and always had to be laying on someone's lap, even though her rear end was hanging over on one side and her head over on the other. I would have been real cautious with her and my kids, even though I knew she was a good dog. What it comes down to is that what you feel is right for you and your family, is right!

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D.M.

answers from Boston on

I think you are right to trust your gut, and it's a shame that your brother won't respect your wishes. I own a dog (just a harmless mutt) and I always crate her or put her on her leash when I have guests coming over who don't like dogs. A gate is a very reasonable accommodation.

You shouldn't feel guilty - you are protecting your daughter. I know that not all pit bulls will attack, but WHAT IF.

Could you offer to host his birthday, saying that you'd love to make him dinner so they don't have to woorry about hosting/cleaning on his birthday?

Good luck!

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T.L.

answers from Boston on

Ok- so pit bulls have a bad reputation, but that doesn't necessarily mean that every one of them will attack. My father in law has had a pit bull for many years (since he was a puppy) and I have learned to trust him around my daughters. This isn't to say that I am not careful with him around. I make sure that my girls do not jump on him, surprise him from behind, or taunt him in any way. I also make sure that when they are eating they are out of his reach. The fact is that pit bulls are dogs, and dogs are animals. Nobody should ever completely trust an animal. Even a poodle can attack!
The other fact is that family is the most important thing in the world. I have just realized this recently when my brother in law was in an accident five months ago. He is still in a coma. Do not lose precious family time because of a dog! Just take the necessary precautions to ensure your daughter's safety...

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A.A.

answers from Springfield on

Everyone keeps saying "trust your instints". This doesn't sound like instinct or intuition plays a part. It sounds like pure fear based thinking based on media sensationalized reports. This breed is no more likely to attack than any other! I have owned a pit bull for 8 years and trust her around my three children without a doubt. However, there are things I will not allow my children to do. They can't pull on her, ride on her, or play fight with her. I would do this with ANY dog as they are unpredictable. If the general fear was of dogs then your brother may have taken more kindly to it but you singled out one breed. I know to us moms this sounds crazy but before children our pets are our family. It can be insulting and hurtful when someone questions your intentions or your pets behavior, especially picking on one over the others. ( I have an exceptionally rambunctious middle daughter so I'm feeling this statement as I type!) I 100% believe that your child comes before an animal anyday and support your decision to protect her. But being an owner of this type of dog and having seen countless people bitten by pugs, mini pinschers, chows, and other breeds it's hard for me not to feel the sting of an irrationally based fear of pitbulls. Nothing is worth isolating your family so perhaps another very open and honest discussion is in order? I will also add that when people come over to our house and either don't like dogs or our particular dog...I put her out, no, ifs and or buts! Until my dog learns to cook a casserole, carpool our kids, or create fantastic refrigerator art she will NOT be put before other humans or those directly from my womb! Dogs were born of their own species and this fact alone is enough to indicate that perhaps extra caution is always necessary? Sorry for the belated response. I hope you have found a peaceful and loving solution to this issue.

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K.S.

answers from Boston on

My son was attacked by a cat at a friends home. It was because he slipped and fell next to her. It wasnt the cats fault, she just got frightened and reacted. My son got a HUGE gash from the side of his head all the way down his face. It was very bad. He is scarred (only on his head..not face thankfully) and it shows when he gets a haircut. That said, I dont think its just pitbulls, but, can be any animal that is unpredictable. I cant argue that pitbulls were bread to be fighting animal, thus they have the instinct in them. I know some pet owners are very responsible and wonderful to and with thier animals. They indeed replace children that they may not have. I do not agree with your brother and sister-in-law on this situation. I think its disrespectful to you and your husband not to remove the dogs from your daughter. Its only a little time here and there. It is NOT cruel to the dogs. I have a 13yr old mixed bread dog who was my husbands first kid. She is the most layed back dog you could imagine, and now that she is so old all she does is sleep and eat. I have no reservations with putting her outside (weather permitting) or up in my bedroom if I have company that is leary of her. My 4 year old son has a little playmate that is afraid of her..so I remove her when he comes..I believe its what you should do. You cant force them to abide by your wishes but dont feel guilty for putting your daughter first. If you are nervous, follow your first feelings..its usually the right choice. I hope they come around and your family can have time with them in thier home as well as yours.

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A.A.

answers from Boston on

Dear A.,

I think you are absolutely right, and your brother is being very selfish not to accommodate you. Just think, if anything ever happened to your daughter (Goddess forbid!), how you would feel knowing that you had put her in that situation! Trust your mothering instincts, and try to create other, safe opportunities for your daughter to be around her uncle.

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N.F.

answers from Boston on

Well I have read all of these posts are they are mostly correct. ALL DOGS CAN BITE!!! The problem with pitbulls is that when they bite they can do alot of damage. Also, there are about 50 different kinds of pitbulls and when you start mixing the "pitbull" breeds they can become agressive. I have a web that I would love for you to read up on:
http://www.realpitbull.com/
It is wonderful and it gave me alot of info on them. With that being said I have a 12 year old rottie and a 1 year old American Staffordshire Terriers or type of pit bull.I also have a 7 year old and a 2 year old both boys. My husband brought him home when he was 6 month old and I wanted him OUT!!!! He told me just to give him a chance and I was not happy. After a few weeks we took him to the Animal rescue league and they performed tests on him to see how agressive he could become. They pulled on his tail, took his food away while he was eating, had a small child size doll jumping all over him and ect. He did not do anything that showed any kind of agressiveness. So needless to say we still have him and have gotten a ton of advice from the rescue league on how teach him everything. My 2 year old gives him most of his commands. When my 2 year old feeds him Guiness will just sit there and wait for my son to say release then he will eat. He has brought is great joy. He is now registered with the AKC because he is a pure breed.

A major factor in these animals is that they will do anything to please their owners. A lot of shall I say loser people that own pitbulls treat them bad. They do everything from feeding them raw meat, gun powder and abusing these dogs that they get a bad name.
You brother should understand your fears and try to work with you and your daughter. If they do treat and train him properly then they can and will be great dogs. My Mom was scared to death of him and she gradually got used to him. First she pet him through his play crate, then I had him on a leash, then she have him commands on a leash. Now when she comes over to my house he will sit next to her and not move until she tells him to go get a ball or something like that. i know that I have written alot here but I wanted to let you know I once was in the same vote as you.

If you need any more help or info I have a ton of webs but I thought that one was the best. Good Luck and try to work it out with your brother!!!
N.
[email protected]____.com

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H.Z.

answers from Boston on

Ok, to bad your brother out of respect can put the dog outside or behind a gate for your visits.And if he doesnt he will realize he is missing out on having his cute niece around...

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D.T.

answers from Burlington on

This is a tough one. I'm sure the dog is just wonderful yet it is a fact a pit bull can turn at any time. A 16 month could reach for the dogs face and frighten it-never know what could happen. I think your brother is being unreasonable not to put the dog into another room while you visit. I have a little cocker spaniel and I put her in my bedroom when children with a fear of dogs visit. This does not mean I do not love my dog and concider her a part of my family-i only want my guests comfortable while they are at my house.
You may want to spend time with your brother at your house or on neutral grounds. Try not to insult him as he does love his dog-maybe a walk through the park with the dog ON A LEASH!!-It is the law. Your number one priority is you little girl-keep her safe!
Start educating your daughter now on how to respect any animal-Always ask an owner before approaching their pet!

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D.P.

answers from Boston on

I think you should take your daughter over to your brothers house before the event and introduce her to his dogs but especially the pit bull. See how they interact under the close supervision and watchful eye of Mama. If things go well, I don't see why you are keeping her away and causing hurt feelings. You are judging this particular dog by it's breed, and to me that's not a whole lot different than judging someone by their race or by their gender. My vote is give it a chance.

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K.H.

answers from Boston on

If your brother wants to have your family over his house he should also want to keep his neice safe. He should also want his sister (you) to feel safe. I don't think an hour or two behind a gate is "cruel". Heck when my daughter was little we kept HER behind a gate so she was safe. If you can't come to an agreement that has everybody feeling safe and happy I guess you'll still have to go alone. If anyone should feel guilty it's your brother..it's not like you asked him to put the dog out in the cold.

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Y.K.

answers from Boston on

I believe you should listen to your instinct and continue going over without your child. You never know if you go over with your baby the dog may react to your nervousness. It is too bad they are inflexible like that. Invite them over so they can spend time with your family.

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N.C.

answers from Portland on

Hello dear mother...My advice is to respect your intuitive side as a woman and as a mom. Instinctively that is what we beautiful Goddesses do. Allow doubt, fear and worry about your decision to drop away by replacing these thoughts with love and gratitude and forgiveness towards your brother for placing you in this situation, and then 'let go'. Then decide without judgement nor expectation what it is your body FEELS ...feeling and thinking are two different animals (again, instinct)...Feeling is what your body tells you. Listen to it. Thinking is a conscious act...sometimes 'stinking thinking' creeps in and causes chaos and confusion on matters that are simple when we listen to our heart and soul 'minds'. Good luck, Nz

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L.W.

answers from Boston on

You are doing the right thing! I know you brother feels the dogs are his children But you have a real child that could be in danger from the dogs. Your brother is being unreasonable. IF something were to ever happen to you daughter when you went over he would change his mind quickly.

Maybe instead of getting together over his house you could go to a neutral place where the dogs would not be. If not don't worry about it. He is the one missing on time with your daughter. YOU ARE BEING A LOVING< CARING AND RESPONSIBLE PARENT!!!

Also maybe you should stop going over too.. then he might get the message. If your family can't be safe over there then maybe know one should go.

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M.S.

answers from Burlington on

Some pit bulls are as gentle as other dogs, I'd take her to your brother's but just be watchful of her and the dog. Do you have a portable playpen you could put your daughter in while you are there? It would be best if your brother would pen his dog, but you cannot change him, you can only work around him, and if it is important to you to go as a family you will have to be the one to adapt.
Good Luck

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D.B.

answers from Richmond on

Is your daughter ever around dogs? Does she treat dogs respectfully & correctly? If she's never been around dogs, or if she's too young to understand how to treat them, then I would say continue to keep your daughter away from dogs- not just pits, but any dog until you feel she understands. A pit is no more or no less likely to snap than any other dog. Pits are stronger than most other dogs & more often trained to be "unsocial". If your brother has had this dog for years, has trained it properly & has never had a problem with it; there's no logical reason to think he will suddenly become a problem. Now if the dog has never been around kids, and the kid has never been around dogs- well that's not a good idea.
Is there a reasonable way to keep you & your family in areas the dog doesn't go into while you visit? Or perhaps bring your family over for a short visit (when there aren't other guests) so you can see for yourself how the dog behaves around your child? If you are truly afraid of this dog or dogs in general, then I'd again say just continue to skip events at his house. Dogs sense when people are nervous- the dog is likely thinking something like, there must be something bad around us if everyone is so upset, rather than this person doesn't like me- so the dog is going to be quick to react if it senses fear, make sense? Hope any of this helps.

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S.W.

answers from Boston on

I think you have to trust your instincts. If you sense that there is danger to your child, trust it. However there might be a way to protect your daughter, like in a high chair or something, if she's over there, at the same time respecting their lifestyle?

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C.H.

answers from Boston on

dont bend on this. They need to understand where you are coming from. It is not cruel to tie up a dog for a few hours. Any dog can snap at anytime! When I was 11, we had a doberman (he was adopted by us, he was abused by his owner) he was a great dog and VERY protective of me, he was my baby. But, he had nipped at friends a few times when they touched his ears. One evening, he was having a "nightmare" I went to soothe him and he snapped, taking bits of my face with him, it was a nightmare, my mother thought i lost my eye there was so much blood. Fortunately for me it wasnt as bad as expected, but I still have the scars all over my cheek. A woman I know here in town, also, brought her 1 1/2 year old son to a friends house, they had a newer pit bull, her friend brought her son over to see her dog, the dog grabbed the child, got him by the head, and shook him to death. It was awful. Its ALWAYS better to play it safe, especially when you a gut feeling. Good luck

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B.P.

answers from Boston on

You should never feel guilty about protecting your child. I, too, am an animal lover, but a child will win every time in this debate with me. This is his niece we are talking about. He should be concerned for her safety as well; not counting the fact that you are his sister and he should respect your concerns. I'm glad that your family seems close otherwise. If I were you, I'd continue to do as you are. Visit with them as you can, but don't ever compromise the safety of your daughter. Invite them to your home so that he and his wife can get to know your family, as well. It doesn't have to be a family debate as long as you both know your boundaries.

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D.W.

answers from Boston on

Hmmmm...well, I feel you are right in not brining your daughter over to your brother's house if you are uncomfortable with the dog. I have a four year old son and we don't have a dog. Reflecting back on our experience with animals in our house growing up, if someone was bothered by our dog or cat, we would put the dog or cat in the other room to accomodate our guest. But people have differing opinions and your brother is entitled to his. I don't think there is too much you can do here; you addressed your concerns and your bother refused to accomdate you and your family's request. When in doubt, my child's safety comes first so I think you just stick to your guns. Maybe if your brother sees how strongly you feel about it, and that you aren't going to change your mind, then he might offer a compromise. Or you can offer to host the event at your house. Good luck! Let us know how you make out with this one.

D.

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L.C.

answers from Springfield on

A.,
It looks like you already answered your own question. If they are really responsible pet owners and the dogs don't say boo without permissio there should be no big problem. Pit bulls have a bad rep because sice they are so strong the breed is popularly used to fight, but in reality they are great family dogs whe raised in a normal environment. Maybe you should go over for a trial run before the pary, where there will be a lot of excitement. If you show a little faith around the doge they'll probably be fine, and your baby will probably love the attention from an amilal closer to their size. I know it's scary to trust your child around the unknown, but if your child is raised to not fear the dogs then chances are that your child will be confident around other dogs too. Don't forget, your child is going to grow up and their frinds are likely to have dogs, and if your child is afraid of the dogs then it will be hard for them to want to be in social sitations later. It is your brothers house, and it is his right to have the dog out. Just go over and watch what happens, closely. If you take it slow I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised, especially if the dogs are as well behaved as it sounds like in your post! Dogs love babies, I hope for all of you that this works well!
Good luck.

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A.E.

answers from Boston on

Hi A., No, stick to your guns. We had a family pet, a Cocker Spaniel. He bit my older daughter over a bowl of popcorn. He was eating out of it and she went to pick it up and got her right in the face. Thank God she was okay, just a flesh wound and she ended up with a black eye. We unfortunately had to put him down because of it. We never expected him to bite her, he was good with the kids and well behaved. You just never know......all it takes is for the dog to have a bad day and God only knows what could happed, especially with a pit bull......You have every right to feel the way you do. Don't feel guilty. What if you gave in to your guilt and something terrible happens?.........stick to your guns. Good luck! A. E.

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S.M.

answers from Boston on

Please trust your intincts. I once owned a pit. Most amazing dog. I then had my daughter. When she was an infant I really had no worries but as she starting moving around she wanted to touch him all the time. One day she was in her walker, as he walked by she reached out to touch him and he just stopped and glared at her. It freaked me out. I discused the issue with my husband and he told me I was crazy. Only days had passed when he snapped attacking another dog and he went right for the thoat. The dog need emergency surgery. Thank God that wasn't my daughter!!! My husband put him down the very next day.
I realize that this could happen with any dog but again she is your #1. Again...TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!

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S.D.

answers from Portland on

Thats a tough one as it puts you in a hard place. However, yor child is your number one concern and you should only put her in situations that you are comfortable with. If your bro wont out the dogs away then thats the deal breaker...just explain your concerns and maybe invite him to your house for a bday dinner..Good Luck

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T.C.

answers from Providence on

No matter how well-behaved a dog may appear, he may snap at a moment's notice. I have worked in animal rescue for more than 10 years and have seen may breeds bite for no apparent reason. Your daughter is too young to know not to pull, pinch or yell around the dogs, and a dog of the size, strength and tenacity of a pit bull is a recipe for disaster. I'm sure pit bull advocates will have much to say about my response, but speaking from experience, I would not bring your daughter to your brother's home unless the dogs are secured in another room. He is acting irresponsibly if he refuses. We haven't visited my parents' house in years because they have a pit bull whose behavior I find questionable. I now have a 2 year old son who will never be around the dog.

On the other side, I have 3 beagles. My father-in-law does not like dogs. Rather than having him refuse to visit, we keep the dogs in their kennel room (in our finished basement), while he visits. I do the same when my son has playdates. My beagles are also extremely well-behaved, but they are dogs - you just never know what they could do.

I think you are doing the right thing by keeping your daughter away from the dogs. Trust your judgement!

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G.T.

answers from Boston on

Hi A.,
I can see you are trying to find a compromise and have all the family together and at the same time protecting your daughter.
Why not bring your duaghter there and put here behind a safety gate or in a portable play pen (if she is already used to it). This way, she would be at all time either in an adult's arms or in a safe place. She would be protected from the 2 dogs and from the cats and at the same time from all the potential dangers of a non-child-proof home (sharp edges, low tables, electric appliances). Your broher will see that you are trying hard to find a compromise and might be willing to compromise also (maybe not "punishing" the dogs, but having them with somebody in the kitchen when you're in the living room or the contrary)
Hope this can help.

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R.J.

answers from Boston on

My 15 month old son was knocked down by a pit bull on a playground. The dog was not on a leash and ignored his owners' commands to stop as he barreled across the grass, jumped up on my son and knocked him flat on his back. It happened so fast that I couldn't respond in time and it was a terrifying moment. The owners apologized profusely and said over and over that he was a friendly dog, but I can tell you that friendly or not, the sight of that dog on my son's chest almost knocked me straight onto my back. I was furious. Needless to say, my son, who was intrigued by dogs before the event, is now terrified of them.

If you're not comfortable with the dog, don't back down.

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L.R.

answers from Burlington on

I congradulate you on be aware of animals around your daughter. But, as in all things extremes are never good. If your brother has trained his dogs and they are well behaved then you probably don't have anything to worry about. It is a myth that Pitbulls just snap or any breed as far as that go's just snap. There is a build up or event that drives a dog to snap just like with people. I agree at times we may not know what it is. Pits have a bad rep that at times because of owners they have earned. In my life time I remember just as many bad things being said about Rotties, Dobermans, German Shepards and the list could go on. I think with any young child you have to be aware of any animal even if it was a poodle or a cat. Young children can get hurt because they have pulled, poked or hit the animal and then the animal gets the blame. When I was a little I got bit and got 4 stitches from teacup poodle. My Mother was all over the owner about it and the owner felt terrible because the event. But, if the whole truth be told the dog probably didn't appreciate me trying to pick him up by his ear either. As for your brothers Pit, you always hear about the negative but Pits are playful, smart, and extremely loyal. There are Pits who have died with their owners because they would not leave them in a fire. Good Luck with your Daughter I hope you raise her to love and respect All Animals. I think you should enjoy your family and events but you should have a watchful eye around her around Any animal not just your brothers Pits. No reason to feel guilty being a good parent.

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A.C.

answers from Boston on

I don't b;ame you for wanting to separate your baby from the pit bull. I am an animal lover and have 5 cats and a giant, slobbering, blubbering 170 pound Newfoundland who backs down to the cats, he wouldn't hurt a fly! But what I understand, and I think your brother may need to realize, is that not everyone are animal people. And even if you are an animal person that doesn't mean you want your baby romping around with them. I have play groups at my house and I only bring the dog into the mix to show the kids and let them pet him. I do not leave the dogs' side and my hand is on his collar at all times. Stand your ground; motherly instict is amazingly correct!

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P.M.

answers from Barnstable on

Dear A.,

In my experience a well loved pit bull in one of the gentlest of animals. We had a pit bull for many years. Her name was Sandy and she loved children and other small animals. My oldest grandson was around her from birth. I think Sandy thought she was his mother sometimes. She had a very sweet nature. I have had friends who have had pit bulls who have had similar experience.

A pit bull can be trained to be mean like any other animal, including the human animal, but my advice to you would be to observe the animal's behavior and the interactions between the animal and the family. That will tell you what you need to know.

Pay attention but don't let your fear overcome your common sense. Don't forget animals sense fear and respond with the only defense they have. Love is a very powerful ally with animals and people.

Good luck,
P.

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J.L.

answers from Lewiston on

I think it's interesting your brother has two dogs, but the pitbull is the problem. ALL DOGS can turn on you. I don't think it's necessary to draw more (negative) attention to this particular breed of dog. Not all pitbulls are attack dogs.

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J.S.

answers from Hartford on

You are not being unreasonable, and I think you're handling it well by keeping your daughter away from their home if they refuse to make sure the dogs aren't around your daughter. The fact is that they are dogs and not children, and no matter how gentle and well-trained a pit bull is, you have every right to want to protect your daughter from that one-in-a-million random attack. I would rather you keep your child away from their home and dogs over taking her and having them say "But they've never even nipped anyone before!"

Do not feel guilty. Stick to your guns. I'm an animal lover too, but honestly, your child is more important than your brother's pets.

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S.S.

answers from Portland on

I would like to first say that you should always supervise small children around any dog....no matter how well behaved or how much you trust the pet. Usually children get bitten because of something they did, not because the dog just suddenly felt like being mean. Secondly i have been a pet groomer for near 10 years and i have never experienced a "bad" pitbull. statistically speaking they are on the bottom of the list of likely breeds to be biters(i believe labs are near the top!). I have two children and i fostered a 7 year old pit(poor dog spent his whole life chained up outside with not much contact)...i did my homework...they are one of the best breeds to have if you have small children..they have a high tolerance of pain so they arent prone to snapping at little ones for every mis-step(or ear tugging or tail-pulling). I dont mean to lecture, but a lot of you big breeds get bad reps that are whole heartedly undeserved(working with pets everyday, i can tell you from experience your little dogs are the worst offenders for biting). I hope this helps and brings the family back together :O)

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J.N.

answers from Hartford on

do you really think that your brother would put your daughter in harms way? you said that he thinks of his pets as his kids, how would you feel if he told you to lock up your daughter up everytime he came to vist you? Face it the pit bull bread dose have a bad name,but its all how you raise them....you can have bad pets and you can have bad kids....from a personal experence i have 2 pit bulls and a 3 year old 1 of the pit bulls we adopted from the pound knowing nothing about him and hes more gental than some of my friends kids...lol...I understand your daughter is your #1 but some times you have to suck it up,especiailly if family is such a big part of your life why would you let a dog get in the way? i could understand if the dog was jumping up on everyone that would be a reason to put the dog away,but i really think that you need to introduce your daughter to the dog so she wont have fears of dogs latter in life

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C.B.

answers from Boston on

Hi A. - Phew! There's a lot here! It seems clear that your child is your first priority and you are willing to make sacrifices for her. You seem to be a mature, thoughtful Mom. Bravo! Protect that child with all you've got. You are her defense against the world. And you are also her first, most respected and longest teacher.

So I will say this to you: When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Your brother has shown you, very clearly, where his priorities and loyalties lie. With his dogs - and his ego. The problem here is that he is not even willing to train his dogs! Nor, does it seem, has he done research about these animals... They don't think like humans!!

Your brother and his "family" need some good training. He needs to do the research that a responsible dog owner should do and learn dogs, packs, leaders, communication, etc.

It is obvious that this research and training has not occurred and therefore the DOG is the leader of that house.

Beyond that, in my mind your consternation becomes more about you than about your child... And by that I mean, your daughter has no idea who you brother is at this early age. It's you that wants the relationship with him - he isn't even on your daughter's radar.

Secondly, he isn't willing to accommodate you and your concern for your child's safety. It seems he's pretty wrapped up in himself and what he wants. Is this the kind of infulence you want in your child's life?

If, at this point in your life, you feel you need a relationship with his man, than you must continue as it has been. He is not interested in a relationship with your daughter - he has made that clear. He is more wrapped up in himself and protecting his (seemingly fragile) ego.

The other concern I have is that you said your brother and his girlfriend... How about his moral compass...? Seems a bit skewed to me. Training our children with integrity, ethics and morals is a lifelong commitment - it doesn't start at 13.

Our children look toward the adults in their lives as an example of who to be in the world. So again, what kind of influence are you looking for for your child?

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M.V.

answers from Boston on

Hi
You should not feel guilty about any thing especially putting your daughters safety first.I think your brother and his wife are being unfair to you and your daughter. No matter how well behaved dogs are they can turn nasty at any time. We had a golden retriever before we lost her to old age an you could not find a more placid gentler dog than her. When my granddaughter started crawling she used follow after her and pull on her fur. One day she turned on my granddaughter luckly she just growled at her but after that when ever my granddaughter came the dog was shut in the kitchen.Just ask them how they would feel if it was there child. The only can suggestion i can make is if you want to see your brother invite them to your home without the dogs. I o hope you can sort this out but don't feel you are in the wrong for putting your child first

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A.M.

answers from Boston on

If they have refused to gate thier dog then they don't respect your feelings for the safety of your child. I know that family is very important, it is to me as well, but there will always be more parties, etc. but there you have only one daughter. It is their choice not to have your daughter around so I wouldn't feel bad for keeping your daughter safe. No matter how good a dog is it is still a dog and not a person that can have restraint. An animal still has instincts and those can kick in at any time. It is you brother and his girlfreind that should feel bad.

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B.M.

answers from Boston on

Actually, pit bulls are supposed to be great with kids. Pits were not bred to have aggression to people. Your brother is a responsible pit bull owner? The dogs are well loved, exercised and trained? Has the pit done anything to make you nervous, or just because of the breed? ANY dog can snap, regardless of the breed. The breed with the highest bite record? Labs. Always supervise the kid around the dog, which is common sense, of course, with any animal. I would say chill out, if you have no real reason to worry about this dog.
Now if the dog is crazy hyper or has shown aggression, then I would be worried. Even if it was a 2 lb chihuahua.

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M.W.

answers from Bangor on

I can understand your nervousness, but I can also see your brother's side of the story. I was the owner of a very sweet Rottweiler and I have to say that when people (family included) stereotyped his breed and expected him to be a mean animal it got me very upset. He was a well trained dog and did not have a mean bone in his body. He had his Good Citizen certification and worked hard for it. I dont' blame your brother for refusing to put a gate up. It is his house and the dog's house. Though, maybe you could ask him to put the dog on a lease while you are there with your daughter since your daughter may not know how to act appropriately around a dog. I do not mean this in an insulting way at all. Most of the time injuries from animals come when a small child who is unaccustomed to being around an animal pulls on a tail or ear and the animal is surprised and snaps back. Good luck!

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K.C.

answers from Providence on

Pit bulls can be very nice dogs, but your family needs to be respectful of the fact that your daughter comes first, period. They are a breed of dog that can harm your child, period. I'm not even referring to their reputation (which should be enough!) but to their size and strength of their jowls.

As a large dog owner (my first "baby" was my dog!) I completely understand the need to at times crate or otherwise confine a dog. It is not cruel to do so, it is safe. Does his pit bull have a crate? If so, the crate would be like a haven to him and not at all cruel to be in for a little while.

If the dog is so well trained that it completely listens to your brother and his girlfriend, what would happen when they are not around? Out of the room? Sometimes a lot of commotion (birthday parties, etc.) can confuse dogs and they either forget their training or do things that are otherwise out of the ordinary.

What about having your mother's birthday party at your home?

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J.S.

answers from Hartford on

Dear A.,
I understand your fear but I have a 2 year old and many toddler/baby nieces and nephews. I also have 2 cats and 2 giant dogs, one is a Great Dane and the other is a pitbull/lab mix. I have never had an issue with my dogs even with the Dane being elderly and blind in one eye. Always keep a close eye on the dogs and your little girl. If you are nervous, know that the dogs will sense that and also be nervous. This generally makes for a tense enviroment. As far as being nervous about the dog based on it's breed....you are going to get tons of upset/concerned responses about that. Some of the nicest dogs I know are full breed pits. All they do to my son is kisses and love him! They can be very excited and are pretty strong though! Every dog has it's own personality and behaviors and that can't be based solely on the breed, just like people. Good luck with whatever you decide.

J.

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J.N.

answers from Boston on

I agree with you and your husband 100%. No matter how well trained a pit bull may be, you just never know if the day will come that they just SNAP. Why take the chance? If your brother refuses to put the dog in another room (selfish in my opinion) I would not take my child to the house. I guess I don't have any useful advice - but wanted you to know that other Moms are on your side!!! Good luck!

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L.M.

answers from New London on

Pit bulls are good gaurd dogs, and if angered they can do damage. The chances of this dog hurting your daughter are very low. Animals will only attack if they feel threatened or abused. Young children and most likely the safest of all when it comes to animals. As long as these dogs don't have any history of bitting I would say it's fine to bring her along. If you get a bad feeling about it, then do what you feel is best.

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L.H.

answers from Boston on

You have every right to be nervous around the dog and I think it is crazy for a responsible dog owner to not want to gate the animal to allow the guests to feel safe. We have an older dog that is part weimeriner and part pointer that we have had since before the children were born. I have a 5 and 3 year old. The dog has never hurt a fly up until one summer day he was sound a sleep in our back yard and was awakend by a friend of ours that startled him by rubbing him playfully on his stomach while he was in a deep sleep. The dog lunged up and caught him in the ear in which he needed stitches. This is the most loving dog but was startled and reacted. I don't care what dog it is any dog can and will react if it feel threatended. We keep our dog in our room when there are a bunch of people in our home visiting at once. It is not only safer for the dog but also protects us as owners from any unfortunate events happening. Pitbulls are known for showing aggression in a seconds notice. Let your brother know of your concern again and see if they would mind putting the dog in the other room just for the time that the child is there so that every one can be together for the celebration. I hope it all works out but don't second guess your childs safety. I think your doing the right thing by leaving them at home if your brother refuses to comply with your request.
Good Luck

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M.G.

answers from Springfield on

I too am the owner of 2 dogs (G. Shepherd & Boxer mix) and 4 cats. I also have 2 children (4 & 18 mos.) I agree with your fear about pitbulls, I am not one to place my children near them, particulary strange ones. However, not all pitbulls are created equal, and your brother's appear to have been raised in a loving home, so the chances are minimal that an attack would occur. But animals are just that, animals, which when provoke would attack to protect themselves. In my home, I always keep my dogs separated from guests, as not everyone likes them, even though they wouldn't hurt a fly!

You and your brother should call an MSPCA and talk to someone there to see if his pitbull can be checked out for aggressive behaviour. (I think they usually pet all over, tug the tail, that sort of thing) Which I think is something they do to see if the animal is suitable for living in a home with kids. If your brother in not interested in that, then he should respect your request to put a gate up or put the dogs in the crate while you visit. He will see one day, if and when he has kids, that you'll do whatever you can to protect them, no matter what! Hope my 2 cents helped!

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S.M.

answers from Boston on

You need to go with your mothers instinct. I am sure that the dogs are very well trained but you just never know with any kind of dog. Just make sure you make it to the party yourself and try to find other times at other places when you can include your brother and his girlfriend into your daughters life.

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K.S.

answers from Boston on

I know there have been many responses already, but I feel compelled to put my two cents worth in also. I have an American Staffordshire, which is in the Pitt family. He is an amazing dog, and is always very careful around not only my children, but other children as well. As others have said, any dog can snap . . . I am actually pretty nervous around German Shephards myself.
With that being said however, I must add that when we are having a party, we usually send the dog to my mother-in-laws (we don't have anyplace to lock him up, and no longer use a crate with him). Not everyone is comfortable around dogs, and I know he (the dog) is not always super comfortable around a ton of people. While I understand your brother's opinion about the dog, he should consider the feelings of his guests, too. One piece of advice that I read that I would not do is to say "what would you do if it were your child". If it were their child, they would have it around the dog, obviously. Not a good place to go with him I think.
Finally, I would say that if you are not yet comfortable with your daughter around the dog, don't make the party the first time to get her over there. Like I said about my dog, many people can make dogs more nervous I think.
Ultimately, I guess it is all in how you feel about it.
Thanks!

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C.S.

answers from Boston on

You shouldn't let your daughter near any dogs. Dogs come from wolves. They live in a pack. His owner is the top leader in the dogs eyes. Little kids move to fast. show fear, and are the same size as a dog. Dogs don't look at them like we do. If you yourself show fear with the kids and them, they sense that too. Any dog no matter how nice it seems can be spooked by anything or anyone. I'm a huge animal lover and it's not the dog's fault if your brother isn't a responsible pet owner. Poor Pits get a bad wrap. Don't feel bad. I think your doing the right thing. I own two 80lb mutts and I put them out when certain company doesn't like them and when small kids are around. Things happen because of human error.

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S.M.

answers from Portland on

First things first, you say that your brother has TWO big dogs and four cats but you only mention not wanting your daughter around the "Pit bull". I have trained dogs for over 25 years now and whether it's a Pit Bull or Golden Retriever ALL dogs, I repeat ALL dogs have the ability and potential of snapping at or hurting a child. Never mind what a cat can do to a toddler if little fingers pull too tightly on the fur or kitty is accidentally stepped on by baby's first excited running steps.

If you are unable to visit your brother and watch (that really means having your hands on her) your child at ALL times with BOTH dogs and all the cats, AND your brother is unwilling to separate the 4 legged from the 2 legged while you visit, then honestly I would opt not to go. I have a 6 year old son and I still do NOT allow him to be alone with my two dogs and one cat.

The problem really is that your brother and his girlfriend have taken offense to your request to segregate the Pit Bull. By your own words they have trained their dogs well. They love their animals as you love your child so they are hurt that you are saying that one of their own would do something wrong. Plus I have NO doubt that they are sensitive to people hating or mistrusting their Pit based solely on it's breed.

Can you possibly explain to your brother that you want to be with him and his girlfriend so you took the time to educate yourself about ALL pets in relation to children? That unless you actually kept her in your lap the whole time that you would be afraid that SHE would inadvertently and in all innocence do something to the animals that might cause them to defend themselves? Could you possibly ask him and his girlfriend to your place or go out to dinner to celebrate his birthday?

Bottom line, for your daughter's protection, you need to educate yourself about dogs and what causes dogs to bite. Your brother's dogs are not the only dogs she will be around. It is rare that a dog just bites with no provocation, although it can happen if the dog has something wrong with it, is ill, or has been taught to be aggressive. Dogs are more predictable than people. They have rules and language that they follow. It is your job to learn their language and teach it to your child. No doubt some dogs, as some people, are more TOLERANT than others. Usually those are the dogs that are used to being around children, those dogs that have been raised with loving, gentle children are frequently willing to over look a canine social blunder. We are very different creatures, people and dogs. Humans look in each other's eyes to get close to each other, humans hug and restrain each other when we love someone. These are only two examples of things that are opposite in dogs. Looking into a dog's eyes is saying, "I challenge you! Look away first or I'll attack you!". Hugging a dog says, "I am stronger and more dominant that you, you will do what I say and submit to me!". I feel very, very sad about children and dogs that simply misunderstood and someone ends up getting hurt. Lastly you must understand that many dogs do not recognize children as people. Think on the dog's level. The child doesn't act or look like an adult. Dogs must be taught to respect a child's place as a human and not as some potential squeaky toy or prey item (which is what a number of children act like sometimes! I know first hand, I have a large prey item in my house that runs around a LOT!)

Below is a great "Keeping Kids Safe around Dogs Tip Sheet" by Jason Mann. Because your daughter is too young right now to really learn some of these things it is your job to insure that she is protected from ALL dogs. There are also programs on the web that can teach you to teach her. Please keep in mind that if you snatch her up fearfully every time a dog comes near, you will be teaching her to fear dogs. Not a comfortable way to go through life. Learn dog language so you will understand what a dog is saying and what you and your daughter are saying back!

<snip>
1.) Never let your child stare a dog down or otherwise gaze at them intently. This is a sign of challenge to a dog and since kids are on their level, they are more willing to accept this challenge.

2.) Never let your child poke the dog in the face, pull the dogs tail, or grab their side. The last two are signs of aggression in dogs and a lot of fights start with dogs brushing up against each other side by side. By grabbing or petting aggressively on the side the dog may consider this a challenge.

3.) Never have your toddler crawling around on the ground around your dog while they have toys, chewables, or other items that might be considered prized items by the dog. This will ensure you avoid any reactions from a dog that is toy/food/item possessive.

4.) Never allow children to sneak up on a dog while it’s eating or resting. They could startle the dog and this may cause a nip reaction. It doesn’t take much to harm a child.

5.) Always, let me repeat that, always supervise children under the age of 12 with your dog.

6.) For older kids, they should not be allowed to walk the dog alone. This will ensure that you have the ability to stop any accidental fighting, or other unfavorable things that could occur on walks.

7.) Never feed your child while the dog is around. This is a pack order thing. Your child should get food first and the dog should not be around to beg or otherwise pester you and your kid for the food.

8.) Teach kids how to use obedience commands with your dog to build a relationship and a bond with the dog early on.

9.) Never allow your kids to sleep with puppies. This is a puppy safety measure, they could roll over and smother the little pup in the night.

10.) Always teach your kids to NEVER approach strange dogs that are loose, chained, or dogs they have never met before. This one alone is the cause of a lot of children being bitten.

When it comes to kids and pits, common sense and good old fashion parenting come into play. Teaching how to interact with dogs from an early age goes a long way to helping them avoid any bites or otherwise harmful situations that can occur around dogs.<end>

I hope this NOVEL ;) will contain something that will be of use to you! Good luck!
smccann
P.S. I bet your brother and his girlfriend could teach you a lot about dogs. I would also ask you to keep it close in your heart that these pets are their children. Learn their pet's names instead of thinking only "Pit Bull". Lastly there are MANY Pits in this world that I would trust my life with but I would not trust my son's ability to restrain his human body language, not with ANY dog.

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P.R.

answers from Boston on

My own dog (a greyhound) bit my son in the head when he was 14 months old and I have never felt like a worse parent then I did that day. That being said, my son recalls the incident only when we point out his scar (4 inches long on the top of his head!) and he still loves dogs. I'd say that if your going to bring her to the house, follow your gut and keep her away from the dog.

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M.M.

answers from Springfield on

A QUIEB PUEDE INTERESAR:
He leido lo que tu exposistes a traves del internet y lo poco que he podido entender pq el ingles no es mi fuerte es que como madre tienes que darle lo mejor a tus hijos.
Recuerda que nuestros hijos son el futuro del mañana. Lo mas importante dale a tus hijos principios en el temor de Dios pq el es la base de todo seguro.
shalom,
mimi.

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E.M.

answers from Boston on

Fact: if the dog freaks out your child could be seriously injured. Fact: if your child freaks out the dog could react and your child could be seriously injured.
As a Mom now, the children come first. Your brother and his girlfriend are grown ups and are responsible for their own feelings, they can change the situation and make their home child friendly, they choose not too. Invite your Bro & girlfriend over for dinner at your place, or just cake, sans dog.
Your brother has chosen his animals over his family.That is awful, but his choice. If the whole family being together is important to you (because clearly it's not to him) you need to step up and make it happen, on your turf under your terms. Sometimes people in our lives make choices that astonish us, but it's their choice.
You did the right thing for sure, making sure your daughter is not in any potentially unsafe situation. Be strong about your choice, you don't have to fight about it either. If anyone asks or makes a comment just say matter of factly, "my husband & daughter would have loved to be here but we aren't comfortable mixing toddlers & dogs". Enough said.

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