Biting at my children

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Rob_103's picture
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I need advice because today was the first time I abused my dog. Please take a minute to read my post before you reply. I have had my doberman for the past few months. He is now 11 months old. He grew out of the nipping a few months ago. He normally plays with my son just fine under supervision at all times. He looks out for him outside when we are playing in my backyard. My son can lay on him and he knows not to be aggressive with the dog. Today my son was playing in the living room and fell down pretty hard on Bruce. I seen Bruce jump up and I pulled my son and grabbed Bruce as soon as possible. I calmed him down but I knew it really startled him and possibly hurt him. I stood by Bruce and me and my son started petting him. Bruce was sitting next to my couch about 10 minutes later and my son jumped on the couch he did not make any contact with my dog but Bruce turned and bit with a full mouth the whole back of his head. I saw his full mouth open and jumped forward grabbed my 2 year old that was holding the back of his head to check for puncture and blood. I saw nothing and I beat my dog and stopped after he cried twice. I almost got my shot gun and put him down right on the spot. My wife checked my son again and we left him outside for a few minutes. After I saw my son had no marks I calmed down and brought my dog back inside.  I sat him down and ensured he was calm. I know people are going to tell me I was wrong but a dog is a dog and my son is my life. Now I'm worried that he may bite at my son again. I'm assuming the reason this happened was my dog protecting his self thinking that my son was going to hurt him again. I will ensure that my son is not playing around my dog like that anymore. If there is anyone here with experience in these situations please let me know what I should do. Again he has never shown any aggression towards my family I'm just scared this will happen again. I know I will be judged but help will be greatful. I'm not happy about what I did and I do feel bad. Please give me some advice.

Kim
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Ok......deep breath, everyone.

Rob, I'm sure you realize at this time that this is your fault, not your dog's. Your son is much too young to fully understand how to treat Bruce, so it's up to you to keep both of them safe. Bruce was defending himself. He's not a trampoline. I understand that the first time your son fell on him was an accident, but I'm sure Bruce felt the same thing was going to happen when your son bounced on the sofa. He doesn't feel safe at all, and that was compounded by your reaction to his defending himself. Big time.

He's also not a pillow for your son - not when your son is a 2 year old, and isn't able to fully understand how to treat Bruce. It's up to you. You haven't set enough limits, so he will.

Hopefully people with young children will chime in, but you are going to have to set firm limits on how much interaction your son and Bruce have, so Bruce can feel safe. Right now, he's been hurt by both of you, and you will have to earn his trust again. It may take a while.

It takes a lot of guts to come here and post what happened. (We're a pretty passionate bunch.) I honor that. I'm also very sure that if this situation is beyond what you can handle, it will be recommended that you re-home Bruce into a family with no children. Some dogs (not just Dobes) simply can't handle young children.

Best of luck to you.

Kim
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As I was walking this morning, it also came to mind that Bruce may very well have been hurt when your son fell on him. It would explain his response to your son afterwards. I would suggest taking him to a vet to see if he has any broken ribs, or any other physical injury.

Rob_103's picture
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I really appreciate what you said. I will ensure I keep the distance between my son and doberman. I do realize that my son is very young and doesn't understand that he hurt him. I will take my time with Bruce and ensure that he is safe especially because he should feel I have control of the situation. I realized the mistakes I made when this situation happened. I have taken everything into consideration and I'm willing to do the work to make him comfortable again. Just so people are tracking. I don't let my son play with him in a rough manor at all. If I'm throwing a ball my son will grab a toy and throw it. That's the kind of playing I'm talking about. I also keep my son off of him the laying on him thing is not a norm. I just saw Bruce circle him while he was on the floor one day and lay down pushed against my son on the floor my son then layed his head on him I left that alone because they were both calm. I have done research and have spoken to trainers and owners of dogs to know that the things that people see as cute will not translate the same for a dog. I also know my dog is still a puppy. I really appreciate your time. I will continue to work with Bruce. 

Rob_103's picture
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I have to take him for shots before I go to Korea this week so I will get him checked out

Bearshade's picture
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This is  a hard one, in retrospect you relize the dog felt the need to protect himself.  As a father you reacted to protect your child. Not judging  your reaction right or wrong that was an emotional response. As a mother of two young boys I get it.  How is your son? The good thing about this is you calmed down and didn't let your emotions drive to kill your pet.  As much as we love our furbabies we do not know how we would react in what could have been a life or death situation. Also you asked for advice which shows you are not giving up on your pet.

 

Ive always had Dobermans when my kids were small and I can remember one time they were outside my youngest was 3 and she was running towards the house, my male at the time came running towards the house at the same time and ran full force into her flipping her way in the air she landed and had a huge egg on her head. I could see it in slow motion and if I could have caught him afterwards would probably beat him also. It is the immediate reaction of seeing your child in pain and I do get that. Not good at all and certainly not fair to the dog but probably a reaction most MIGHT have and shouldnt judge unless faced with the same scenario. With that being said you know what you are capable of and you need to be in check.

I've also had one of my dogs when they were about a year old bite my daughter who was about 5 and it did draw blood. This happened when I wasnt home. Apparantly the dog still a puppy was on the couch and my daughter came up and was petting her and as she woke up she snapped at her. Im telling you all this because it happens faster than you know and taking certain precautions will help but nothing is full proof accidencts happen. In this case the dog shouldnt have been on the couch the child should be taught not to bother the dog while sleeping and we should have provided the dog a safe place to sleep such as a crate. There is also an authority issue that could also play out in this scenario so not allowing dogs on the couch or in authority places. We took care of it and never had another issue.

It is not easy raising small children with large dogs of any breed.I think one very important thing for anybody raising dogs with kids is to understand their body language. Dogs do give off warning signs of being uncomfortable before biting and it is imparative that you read up on it so you and your wife will know what they are. This will enable you to work through things in a proper manor. Here is one link that you can start with Right now I HIGHLY SUGGEST EVERYONE READ IT! Many warning signs are given and even experienced dog people do not catch them. There is a video that I had seen years ago on the bottom of the page showing obvious signs of stress and wrong handling on the part of an interviewer where you know the dog is going to snap. Howerever there are other signs dogs give off that are much more subtle that people do not catch.  http://www.doggonesafe.com/Signs_of_Anxiety

I have a almost 4 year old male and his mother that is 9. Im also raising my 8 mo old grandson in my home and have a 3 year old granddaughter and her newborn brother that are here all the time. Im constantly watching my dogs never giving them the opportunity to be in a place where accidents may happen. Im aware of their body language and signals they give. The kids are also taught respect for the dogs early on. I understand coming from the point of raising children that they need to be kids and run around and act like kids. This is the time when the dogs need to be out of the room maybe a crate or a special room where they will not be fallen on bumped into.

You mentioned you are going to be Korea how does your wife feel about what happened and is she on the same page as you are as far as watching keeping your son safe and working with the dog? Please have her look through the site I provided above so she knows the signs also.

 

Dubyasdad's picture
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I understand the reaction you had. I think the 'bite' May have been more of a warning similar to the way an alpha would warn a puppy or other dog in the pack. If the bite had been intended to hurt your son he would be hurt. Not that the behavior of the dog was acceptable, but you can take comfort in that. We, as fathers, must protect our family.  

 

Has the dog acted as though he is alpha in the household? Does he submit to you or your wife?  Does he view you and your wife as alpha? Has he shown any signs of aggression before this? If it was a one time occurrence then you are probably fine.  My concern is; the dog may be traumatized by this and may become aggressive.

 

I think if it were me, I would at least consider rehoming this dog... Or at least get him into a good professional trainer to help with these issues that may come.

I'm not trying to be judgemental but losing your temper against your dog like that could make him not trust you and thus could cause problems later.  

Kim
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Excellent post, RNDobe. Thank you. Even tho I don't have kids, I always learn something from you!

RND great post and a even better hyperlink.

The video I would suggest every one on this forum should study. When the vid starts the dog is licking his lips, his ears are back and he's what I call "cow eyed", a sure sign of stress. The handler, who is supposed to be a professional, missed it. That situation took but a couple of seconds to turn into something terrible. Trade out the adult for a child, disastrous!

Rob_103 if you would have put the dog down, I would not have disagreed with that decision for a second. The only thing that I read that should not have been done after the incident, you and your son (if I read it correctly) calmed the dog down by petting him. The dog doesn't see the petting as comforting, he sees it as a reward. 

A dog's only way of communicating is with body language. Since the dog is unable to learn our ways of communication, we MUST learn their ways. Not only will it help avoid a situation such as this, it is also very helpful with training.

To everyone, no matter how much you trust your dog, be very vigilant when children interact with your dog. Neither the dog nor the child can be counted on to make the right decision.

Gunny     

I edited my post to say, I rewatched the vid and before the first second of vid passes, the dog is turning his head towards the handler. This was the avoidance.

Bearshade's picture
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great video and good site!  thinking back to this summer when my son got bit by my in laws old lab the warning  signs were there and even I missed them. The frequently shifting his position and the yawning often. I wrote it off as he's just old and tired not nervous  and up set.