Unsure of What to Do About Dog

Updated on January 04, 2018
N.J. asks from Gaithersburg, MD
20 answers

Hi all! First timer here and I could use a little help. I have 2 kids ages 5 and 7. My brother in law bought a blue pit and I’m leery of taking my kids around it. I’ve met the dog and it seems friendly and sweet. But my brother in law is not a super responsible person. He hasn’t seen one of his kids for months. I share this so it kind of shows that he isn’t the most hands on person. The dog hasn’t been around small children either. Anyway, This has led to some contention over holidays. In the past we have avoided going at the same time to my mother-in-law‘s but this past week we ran into a conflict and now my brother-in-law is angry that we do not trust him to handle his dog and my mother-in-law thinks we are being ridiculous and irrational that we won’t bring our kids over when the dog is there. That is bothering me. I don’t want to be irrational but I don’t want to put my kids at risk. Any advice is appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Honestly I’m a little taken aback by the not so kind response from Woodbridge. I was just looking for some advice and was sharing that my brother-in-law is a bit irresponsible. He crates the dog all day and does not socialize him around young children and I was just looking for some guidance. I don’t think saying I’m being a “brat” when I’m just worried about my kids’ safety around a dog that isn’t used to be around children is fair. Furthermore, I won’t post on here again. Thank you to the others who were kind.

I understand that I am going to get advice that I might disagree with but where is it helpful to tell people to grow up? I decided that I won’t ask anymore because of the negativity not that I’m immature. I think it’s actually very immature to tell people to grow up when they’re asking advice. As a dog lover I am not afraid simply because it is a pit but because of the lack of training and socialization. As far as not being flexible; we did try last thanksgiving and the dog a puppy than jumped on my then 4 year knocking her down playing in the family room. The dog was outside with others but someone accidentally left him in before we could get to her. The issue is now he is much larger stronger and rambunctious.

Also, I do like my brother in law and don’t want to cut him out in any way but I do wish he could see where I’m coming from. I’ve attempted to talk to him and he gets very angry.

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answers from Washington DC on

See if you can’t work out a compromise or go at different times. The socialization (lack of) would concern me and the fact it isn’t used to being around small children.
Don’t go. I’ve received a lot of good advice over the years ~you just have to filter through sometimes 😋

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I went through a similar experience with my brother-in-law. He never walks his dog and it is crated all day and his own mother is scared of it. He even called us names because we didn't want the kids near the dog. It was more important to keep my kids safe than to make my brother-in-law happy.

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answers from Seattle on

My brother used to have a pit, Shorty. Shorty was around his kids and was great. BUT, I was nervous. Any time I would go to his house they would put the dog in the back room, away from my kids. I never asked him to, he just did.
As parents it's our job to protect our kids. While I am sure plenty of people will say that pits are not dangerous and they are lovely dogs, I am here to say that I don't care. There are too many stories of pits attacking kids (AND ADULTS...that poor woman that got attacked by her OWN dogs and killed just a couple of weeks ago. They freaking ATE her.)
If you are not comfortable with it then don't bring your kids around the dog. End of story. If they are upset about it, that's on them. Not you.
Being able to have a conversation with your brother in law is going to be helpful. A sit down, calm, understanding conversation. He may not be in a place to have that conversation right now, and that's ok. AGAIN, his issue, not yours. Maybe one day later he will be.
For now....I would do what you did. Have the conversation. State your point. Hold your ground.
(curious what your husband says. He can be part of that conversation)

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You can't help but feel how you feel about your BIL and his choice of dog. Pits need a strong leader and although they don't bite as often as other breeds their jaw strength makes them dangerous when they do.

Your BIL is trying to make it seem like you are the crazy one for putting your children ahead of his dog. Of course you don't trust him because a reasonable person would agree to put the dog in a kennel or outside in the yard for your visit. I have a small annoying dog and one of my BILs hates dogs. When he comes to visit the dog is put away for a few hours.

Personally I'd stick to your guns on this one. Your BIL doesn't see your side of this and your MIL just wants to see the kids so she'll go along with anything her son says.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Can BIL not leave the dog at home when he and you both visit?

I am thinking none of our relatives bring their pets with them (to our place or other relatives) when they visit.

If he's just trying to make a point - then he's just being a jerk. I mean, it would be different if you're visiting his house. Then I could see him thinking Why should I pen my dog up if you have a problem .... but even so, most dog owners are pretty sensitive to parents being concerned with young children around dogs.

I don't think you're being irrational. I don't think it has so much to do with the breed even - so much as this is an unfamiliar dog and may not be fully trained.

We have a kid with allergies. We don't visit at homes with pets if we can avoid it. I know it's not same issue, but some people get offended as if they don't clean enough. I wouldn't make it about your BIL or the dog breed. Make it about your comfort level. Just repeat "We'd be more comfortable meeting without the dog".

Also - on here, it's no different than if you'd asked family members, friends and co-workers for advice to a problem - just skip the replies that aren't relevant to you as you would normally. Don't go. Not all answers are going to work for you but a lot will :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I don't understand why he needs to bring the dog with him in the first place. I get people love their dogs, I love mine, but he does not go with me to other peoples homes unless specifically invited. But I can understand it if he is going to be there a very long time (8+ hours alone can be hard for a dog, they need potty breaks etc). Even if the dog is there it should be outside if any of the guests are uncomfortable with it, regardless of breed, any dog can bit at any time and kids can sometimes be mean to animals and provoke a bite without knowing what they are doing. If the dog is outside and one time it got in and knocked the child over, get over it, that happens, and by putting the dog outside he is trying to accommodate your request. In the end do whatever you feel is best for you and your kids, if you truly feel they are unsafe then don't go there anymore.

As for mentioning the BIL has not seen his child, I assume that is to poison us against him so the responses would be more supportive of your position, but the truth is many of us know men who would love to see their kids more often then they do but the mothers, and sometimes the courts, make it very difficult for them, especially if they can't or won't shell out large sums of money. I won't judge him based off of a situation I know nothing about, just like none of us can really judge this dog because we don't know its personality, only your insistence that it is not socialized as much as you think it should be.

But in the end they are your kids and you have every right to keep them away.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

When it comes to the safety of your children, trust your mama instincts. Your job is to protect them and it sounds to me like you are doing a good job. I would be doing the same thing if I were in your shoes.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Have you discussed a middle ground? For example, kids play in a back bedroom and the dog stays in the living room, and during dinner the kids stay in the dining room and the dog stays in the living room. Put a baby gate up between the rooms so the kids and dog can get acquainted across the gate but with a barrier so that the dog doesn't get nervous. Or, since your BIL believes in crating the dog, when the kids are in the living room then the dog stays in the crate.

You are not being irrational, but from what I can tell, none of you (you, him, or MIL) are being flexible or willing to discuss a compromise which is a shame.

ETA: I suggest that rather than flounce, you take some time to get to know the site a little better. Don't be afraid of posting a question. Instead, post a question and when you get a response that pushes your buttons, step back, take a deep breath and think about why it upset you. You might learn something about yourself - the wise mommas here have helped me learn a lot about myself and my assumptions by posting responses that I didn't like when I first read them.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You will get a lot of types of responses and opinions here. If you see one you don't like, keep scrolling.

It is pretty childish to get po'd and just flounce because everyone doesn't see your way. The point of this site is to gain varied advice. Take what you think you can use and move on. Geesh.. a bit on the immature side if you ask me.

Now to your question.... It does not matter if the dog is a pit or a poodle.. the breed is not the problem. A dog that is not socialized is a problem.

The fact that your brother doesn't see his children does not factor in here. It sounds like you just don't like him and this is a good excuse to cut him out of your life.

Grow up

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

We've had a few fatal pit bull attacks near our area last year.



The in laws can be irked if they want to be but I wouldn't risk my kid(s) being maimed or killed.
Nothing against the brother in law - sure you and the kids can see him when ever he leaves the dog at home.
If he won't do that - bummer - he's made his choice.
He (or anyone else) doesn't get to force a relationship between my kids and any animal.
It's not their call.


Perhaps the 'brat' comment wasn't helpful on the surface.
But if you look deeper - the issues/scars were the direct result of parents and dog owners who didn't respect both the kids and dogs needs to NOT BE TOGETHER.
Therefore - absolutely take something useful away from this and keep your kids away from the dog!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i scrolled through and don't see any comment from 'woodbridge.'

it's hard to tell from your post if you have a fear of pits, or if it's your BIL who is causing you concern.

regardless, if you don't want your kids around the dog, it's your call. i don't really get why people bring their untrained unsocialized animals with them everywhere, but it does seem to be a thing. our granddogs do come over, but their first meetings with new people and new animals are always carefully overseen, and we don't have small children.

yours aren't toddlers, though. at 5 and 7 surely they're old enough to know not to run up and hug a strange dog?

i've become very fond of pits (one of my granddogs is a pit, and we think our new pound dog has some pit in her) but the statistics are what they are. they are super sweet ponce-wonces, but they are very protective of their humans, and their bites (on the rare occasions they do bite) are dire. if your BIL doesn't work with his pit or socialize it, i think your worries are at least somewhat justified.

i think in your position i'd decline a big stink, but be calm and firm and very minimal in my discussion of it. probably best to limit the discussion to your MIL. and to leave his parenting out of it. it really doesn't illustrate anything about how he handles dogs.

'we're really looking forward to spending some time with you, alicia, the kids are excited about it. i'm not going to permit them to be around Spike until i'm comfortable that he's been trained and vetted around kids, so we won't be over this weekend. can we schedule a time for just us and the kids to visit? or would you rather come here?'

no excuses. no long explanations.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Personally, I would avoid going. Now this is coming from someone whose beautiful English Springer Spaniel was almost killed by a pit. My husband and his friend were walking my two dogs. Jack, our friend, said oh Suzanne your flowers are beautiful. Well that was it. Unleashed pit attacked. Some people trust them, I don't. That's just my experience though. See what others say.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

It is the dog breed or just your brother's lack of responsibility? I can't tell which you are really having the trouble with?

I personally think you are kind of being a brat about the whole thing. What does the fact that he hasn't seen one of his kids for months have to do with anything?

I know plenty of pits that are absolutely wonderful with children. I know plenty of "nice breeds" that have attacked a child. And I say this as a parent whose child has facial scarring after being bitten by a pit (actually my brother in law's pit). My child was bit not because the dog was bad, but because she was a toddler who was NOT being watched by family members who were supposed to be watching her and she stuck her face in his food bowl when he was eating. The fact he was a pit had NOTHING to do with him snapping when she did that. 9 out of 10 dogs would have snapped at someone tinkering with their food at a meal time.

What is your end game on this anyways? Just stay away from the brother-in-law forever? Because he is an irresponsible parent who you believe cannot handle a dog?

No wonder your brother-in-law and MIL are pissed . . .

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

What behaviors has the dog had around your children? Has he threatened them by growling or acting aggressively? Why do you think he's dangerous?



answers from Miami on

I have never had dogs, so maybe my answer is unhelpful, but if your brother-in-law won't watch his dog, you can still watch your own kids. Supervise your kids at all times so they do not come into contact with the dog for an extended period of time unsupervised, when the dog can cause them harm. Also educate them to not touch the dog, and stay away from it, because he may not be kid-friendly. I don't see why they can't just put one of those dog fences so that the dog can still roam freely throughout most of the house while keeping the kids away (and protected) from him. This seems to be a good compromise, rather than putting the dog in a crate, locking it up in a room, or being unable to spend time with your family and in conflict.


answers from Boston on

I'm not so sure that it's about the dog being a pit, so much as it's about a new dog unfamiliar with children.

I have a little 17 pound terrier mix, but she's been abandoned twice. We rescued her 6 years ago. She's nervous although she is a very "friendly and sweet" animal, as you describe your BIL's dog. I wouldn't trust her around children unless I could hold her in my lap constantly - kids move quickly, they sometimes grab a dog because they saw a movie where the dog was super lovey-dovey, and they don't always respect or understand a dog's boundaries in the dog's own home. I had a bunch of people over for a holiday dinner, including a 10 year old and a 4 year old, and I asked neighbors to take my dog for the 3 hours to keep things calm.

If you think your BIL is irresponsible, and if the dog isn't used to kids, I'd set aside another time to visit and meet the dog. I don't think you can tell your BIL that the dog can't be in its own home, but I do think you can keep your kids elsewhere. You might try an outing to a state park or a dog park, where the dog is not "welcoming" spirited children into its own territory. But I wouldn't base it on the dog's breed at all. I think a lot of people distrust pits, but any dog who is new to its home can have a problem with a crowd of relatives. And if you are on edge about your BIL, the dog will pick up on that vibe as well. Another option (which we often do) is to have the dog on a short leash in the house - we use a 4-foot leash so the dog has some freedom but isn't running loose either.


answers from Springfield on

you protect your kids from the dog. period. you can go when the dogs there but make sure your kids are safe distance, keep them close to you and monitor how they are treating the dog. teach your children how to act around a sketchy dog so when they are faced with an unknown dog and you are not there they have the knowledge to act appropriately even if you are not there to tell them what to do.



answers from Appleton on

I work in outside sales, I meet a variety of dogs all day every day. Pits are GREAT dogs. They are very loving and gentle. At one time Pits were known as "Nanny Dogs" because they were so great with children.
Actually the dogs to be the most concerned with are Chocolate Labs. They were so inbred years ago you can still get a crazy one. Yet Labs are known for their gentle nature and love for people.
Back in the 1980's the 'bad dog' was the Dobbie or the Rottweiler they were known as 'monster dogs' nothing could have been further from the truth. In the 1960's German Shepherds were the 'monster dogs' and it goes on and on. Today the Pit Bull is the 'monster dog'
Don't let the fear win.



answers from New York on

"Woodbridge", I guess you mean "MilitaryMom6"...on this site our names are above our locations. Just FYI.


answers from Santa Fe on

One of my kids is an animal lover and no matter how much we would tell her not to hug a dog she just could not help herself. I had to physically hold her hand when she was really young to keep her from overwhelming dogs that don't know children. Personally, I think you are right to want to protect your kids. However, it's hard to say if this dog would ever be dangerous or not and I can't tell how your kids act around dogs. If your kids leave the dog alone and the dog is friendly it will most likely always be just fine. Will your BIL be willing to leave the dog at home or put the dog in the backyard while your kids are there? Can his dog handle a 5 and 7 year old running around him or will that get him overly excited? My dog just lies on her bed and ignores kids except for the initial greeting when they first walk in. She has no interest in kids running around. I have seen other dogs get super excited and run and chase the kids in play and jump on them. Anyway, I would not judge this dog to be dangerous yet. I would teach my kids to be calm around dogs, no hugging, how to approach them, and have my BIL give them a lesson in teaching the dog to sit and lie down...giving a treat afterwards. Have the kids play outside while the dog is inside. Have the dog lie on his bed when the kids are inside and give them a no running/roughhousing/hyper play in the house rule. If the dog seems very focused (excitedly staring at them) on the kids then he needs a quick reprimand and to go outside or in a bedroom. I would work on a bit of dog training each time you are together...with the kids working with the dog to teach him that they are alpha and he is not. My kids loved doing this. I'm a dog person though, and have done lots of training courses and agility courses with my dog, so I have a lot of experience in this. Anyway - your instinct to protect your kids is a good one. Can you and your BIL come up with dog rules for when the kids are around? Keep them separated but also do brief training times with them together? He can even hire a dog trainer to come a few times to work with him, his dog, you, and your kids. Since you are family and will be seeing each other for the rest of your lives it is worth the effort! Good luck!

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