my daughter was bit what should i do

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cthompson's picture
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my daughter is seven years old.  my dobie puppy is 8 months old and already about 85 pounds.  he is a loving dog and had never to my knowledge shown any signs of aggression.  today he was laying on my lap as he likes to do.  my daughter came over and was trying to hug him and get on top of him.  i heard him growl for the first time at her or anyone else for that matter.  i told her to get up and get off of him right away which she did.  my daughter came right back though and tried to give him a hug and get on him again.  blaze all of sudden without warning just turned around and bit her.  he hit her with such force that he busted her nose.  he also put two puncture wounds on her face.  one to the top lip and another to her forehead.  the one on her lip was deep and bleed badly.  the one on her forehead was not deep and didn't bleed.  her nose bleed alot and scared me to death.  she was taken to the urgent care and was treated for her minor injuries. blaze is now at the animal shelter for quarantine.  we love him so much but we don't know what to do.  If he had ever growled at her or anyone before maybe i could've corrected the problem.  it has been such a shock to us that he did that.  i had boxers before and should could get all over them and give them lots of hugs and affection.  she would even pull their ears and poke at there eyes when she was really young before i could get to her and stop her.  my boxers never even looked at her wrong.  they would get up and run away or lay there like it was normal.  i don't know what to do now.  he is a handfull with how much energy he has and all the puppy stuff,but that doesn't bother me.  i just don't know if i can trust him again around her.  i know if i did there would be alot of different rules for him in our home.  does anyone think because he did this that he is a dangerous dog that should never be trusted or was this a simple puppy mistake.  i've read some of the other post and i know i did make some mistakes with him.  he was on the couch with me when this happened.  i should have never let him on the couch with me or anyone else.  i know this was my fault  i just don't know if i can trust him enough to correct it.  she had always been able to hug him and lay on him.  this had never been a problem.  i even had let him sleep with her at night because she loved him so much and she liked having him with her at bedtime.  i made so many mistakes with him in his training.  he has never tried to take a alpha position in our home before.  in fact i can just look at him and he will drop down and cower.  he will only do this with me though.  in fact he will walk well with me and not pull on the walks.  he pulls my wife all over the place.  he will even not pull my daughter when she walks him if i'm there.  just wondering if its to late for blaze and our family.  i have never been closer to another dog as i am with him.    

cisco9510's picture
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My akita bit my stepson- he was 8 yrs old, He was asleep under the table and he said his name in a high  pitched shriek and went to pet him and boom it was to late... He got his nose and forhead as well - sounds much worse than your incident. I was actively trying to place Wyatt ina rescue because he was begininng to show aggression towards my husband- (this was prior to us getting married and he ahd been living with me for only a short time) He had never shown agression towards Ross or my stepdaughter- After calling and still not being able to get him into a rescue we decided to put him down. I couldnt have lived with myself if he bit again. Being that blaze is a puppy maybe look into some anti-agression training (I know my trainer who is a K9 officer has a special class for this) Also I think you need to see how your daughter feels about him still being in the house. He is young enough I think that if he gets the training he will be ok, but you never know how she is going to feel about it til you ask-

Good luck its not an easy thing.

DJ's Dad's picture
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I aqgree with cisco on asking your daughter what her feelings are...if she is afraid of him (and that would certainly be understandable) then it might not work out well to keep him.  Fear is a powerful emotion and dogs pick up on it very easily and take advantage of it.  When my son was born, we had a chow that had puppies and we kept a white chow pup out of the litter.  Shane and the puppy, Levon, literally grew up together and were very close.  When Shane was about 5 yrs old, he got out of the car and rushed over to Levon to hug him, like he had done a thousand times before, but Levon for some reason, grabbed my boy by the shoulder in his mouth and flung him to the ground and stood over him growling.  That was it.  We re-homed the dog to someone that lived in the country and had no kids.  He was a good dog, but after that incident, I just couldnt trust him.  There are ways to work out behavior problems with dogs, and I know that many dogs just dont like their space intruded on, especially by small kids, so you have some decisions to make.  I wouldnt wait too long to decide what to do, though.  If you decide to keep him, you really need to consult a professional dog behaviorist soon.

bbroyles's picture
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Oh, thats not good! Any time a dog bites a child, it is huge cause for concern. I believe that Blaze's position was threatened when your daughter got on top of him. I would not allow them to be alone together until you have talked to a lot of trainers. We need some dog behaviorists here for this one. Is there any possibility that she might have hurt him when she got on top of him, a pin in her clothing, jewelry, a pencil in her hand Anything that could have hurt him? Did she just walk up and get on him or was it a running surprise type jump? What was Blaze doing at the moment? In your lap, asleep, being petted?
It just seems a little out of character to me, but my 9 month old is the first male I have owned. Do you have the pups background for tempermemt? Ok I'm hoping we will hear from our most experienced voices. But definitely needs attention. A repeat could have much worse results!

jeshykai's picture
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I know you love Blaze and maybe this is the key here -- you love him enough that you want to give him the life that he deserves.  He is young enough now that if he goes to another home, he will most likely get one with a loving family.  The older the dog gets, the harder it gets to place them.  I think you should seriously consider this option, though it isn't the easiest one.

Yes, I agree with you that you most likely went somewhere wrong in the training.  Letting Blaze have dominant spots like the couch - letting him sleep with your daughter - showering him with all the love and affection you probably have has told Blaze that he is either your equal or your superior.  He looks at your daughter as lower than him and when she laid on top of him (that is a dominant position) he bit her and gave her a very serious warning.  He could've been resource guarding the couch, or resource guarding you.  That he was triggered to bite first makes me think that he might have been giving you and your daughter other signs that he was not pleased in other instances and you either didn't recognize them or chose to ignore them.  If he went right to biting that is even more concerning than you not seeing the signs.

Now, if your daughter wants him back in the home and is not scared of him I think you could retrain him to his proper position.  But it will take a lot of work.  A very skilled trainer, not just anyone.  You will need references that the trainer has worked with biters in the past.  You will need to follow everything that the trainer instructs you.  This is extremely serious, but since you are here I know you know that.

The girls that I nanny are all over both Steve and my other dogs.  I have given them the authority in my house by having them walk my dogs, having them feed my dogs, having them reprimand my dogs and having them play with them.  I do not tolerate any sign that the dogs don't like it - but none of them have been anything but submissive.  

Steve doesn't have these kids in his life on a daily basis, but he has never shown anything other than respect to the kids.  This is probably because he knows his place in my pack and it is below humans.  I give him plenty of exercise, plenty of training and socializing.  But I will tell you, I love all my dogs very much, but if they ever showed any sign of aggression to these girls I would correct it immediately.  If it ever ended in a bite the dog would most likely find another home.  They aren't MY kids, but I want kids.  I wouldn't be able to tolerate it and I know that it can be worked with, but for the rest of that dogs life I would be on edge, waiting for the next trigger to occur.

I'm sorry your family has to go through this.  Whatever you choose, I wish you the best.

KevinK's picture
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I would start to read, or take a class to understand dog behavior, body language, and how body language affects mood and behavior for dogs.  What your daughter did, in the dog's eyes, was very, very aggressive, and dominating move.  You can't look at it in terms of what people consider affection... What we consider to be an affectionate, loving move, dogs interpret as an aggressive one.  Since you allowed this behavior, your dogs frame of mind is "If my owner isn't going to protect me, then I have to protect myself". 

What I find most sad here is that you mis-read the situation, and blamed the dog, and the dog is now at the shelter... so not fair.  You should have not allowed your daughter to get on top of the dog like that, and if the dog gave a warning, and you ignored the warning, and the dog reacted, I would put the blame on the owner, certainly not the dog.  You say without warning, wrong... the growl the first time was the warning.  That should have been the cue that something was wrong.  All of the warning signs were there, they were just not read properly.

I'm not saying it's ok for a dog to bite, especially a family member, I don't ever think that's ok at all.  But, you have to look at WHY the dog bit, and realize that the family made the mistakes here.  I would use this as a learning experience, and start to get more familiar with body language and behavior.

cthompson's picture
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thank you guys so much for the post.  this has been really hard on all of us.  i think i'm going to try it with him again.  my daughter says she will be ok with him.  i'm going to start all over with training as soon as i pick him up.  he will know his position in the pack from now on.  he does have a shoulder injury on the left shoulder that hasn't heeled.  she may have been on that but i don't think that is what is was.  like i said he has never shown any signs of aggression.  my daughter can take all of his toys and even bones away without a problem.  if ever shows any more signs of aggression towards her or anyone else he will be finding another home.  he also will be watched when she is around closely. 

cisco9510's picture
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Please dont try and do this training yourself- you have a few days call everyone you can find and find the absolute best trainer that deals with these issues...

I think it is the best and only way to get the pup you want in your family...

KevinK's picture
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Work on the people as well as the dog.  Let me give this a human equivelent here:

2 people are walking down the street, 1 is a robber, and going to try to take the other person's wallet.  The other person has a gun, and alot of cash on them.

There's a few ways this can go down, depending on the person holding the gun.  One person may just freak, and throw down their wallet and run.  That would be the equivelent of the dog being 100% submissive, and doing nothing...  That is a fearful dog, and I would work on building confidence in that dog.

One person may pull out the gun, but not have it in them to use it.  That would be a dog that barks, or gives a warning.  The dog may or may not "shoot", (bite) depending on the personality of the dog.

One person may just whip out a gun and shoot at the first sign of a robber.  This would be bad, we want some type of signal that something is about to happen.  In this case, a bite.

One person may simply know that they have a gun, they're not scared of the robber, and they will stand their ground without ever having to use the gun.  (gun = teeth) That is the ideal... calm, confident, not over-reacting, and using just enough force without getting carried away.  That's what we're looking for. 

In the dog world, growls are a warning of some sort, almost always.  So, when a dog growls, it becomes our job as dog owners to try to think about WHY your dog just growled, what happened, what caused it, and then go from there.  In your situation at home, I would totally not call it unprovoked, I would call it the opposite, VERY provoked.  The dog gave a warning, just like it shoudl have.... warning was ignored, human behavior was repeated... the dog looked to you to stop the situation, you didn't, so the dog reacted.  That's why it becomes important to teach all family members what's acceptable and what's not, undestand the warning signs, and understand how to react to certain dog behaviors.  We have to think in terms of dog, dog, dog... not human.

bbroyles's picture
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Here is a little more to think about.  I don't know, even though your daughter is saying it's okay to try again with Blaze - maybe she is saying that because she knows how much you love him.  I don't think she will be able to fully trust him again, and that's a good thing.  But I agree with Ziva's dad on the fear issues.  You will have to decide whether she is being cautious or fearful. That being said, I really believe that this is your decision as a parent and that however positive and courageous your daughter may be, she really is not the one to have the say in this, whatever she may be feeling right now.  As a child she depends on you, you must decide for her not with her. Getting her imput is certainly important, but you must weigh and come to the decision you feel is the best. I don't think there is a clear cut answer, too many unknowns, and again, I'd find out what you can about his breeding if you do not already know. 

Why do you think the shoulder issue didn't have anything to do with his warning and bite?

And finally, if you do decide to re-home this dog, I would want to be as near to 100% as possible that the home you place him in is and will always be child free.  This has already happened and with or without intervention, it is more likely to happen again...just because it has. I would make it very clear to any prospective home what has happened... I speak from experience in having an Afghan who was reported as to needing a home.  I took him in and within a few days he had snapped at my daughter, twice.  On further investigation, turns out the owner had been less that truthful  with other breeders and other issues.  The dog was put down.  I think the bottom line for this decision with anyone who has to make it is this.  Once the dog is no longer in your control, you can not know what will develop.  Major life changes can force people to make choices that they would never have considered before.  Finding what you believe to be a forever home and a good situation is not a gaurantee and when dogs get moved around, their history is easily lost.

Now, my friend, that is a lot to swallow and it is my rational voice!  And no dog lover ever wants to be in your position.  

My heart says, retrain, hope for the best. be an antenna to your chld and to Blaze and God Speed!

Best wishes with your decision and we are very eager to support you and hear how Blaze is doing.

KevinK's picture
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Just read about the injury...  Why would you let your daughter climb on top of an injured dog, after warning signs were given especially...  100% not the dogs fault here...

 

Sorry, it's just a huge pet peeve of mine when someone labels a dog aggressive, or vicious, or nasty, when the dog is not at fault, and given the situation responds in a way that is totally normal.

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I agree with Kevin, totally not the dogs fault, I mean... if you were hurt and your friend came and layed on it, wouldn't you tell them to quit? And when they didn't quit, wouldn't you get angry or defensive? I would and have. You can't blame Blaze for this behaviour, he just did what any dog... or person for that matter... would do. I'm not trying to be mean, but this is completely your own fault. YOU didn't correct your daughter when he growled... YOU didn't separate them... YOU didn't know how to correctly "hear" what your dog was saying, and your daughter and now your dog are paying the price for your mistakes. 

Go to a trainer, learn how to understand your dog, and learn from your mistakes. We all have to at some point, so don't beat yourself up, just don't let it happen again.  

cthompson's picture
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well kevin all of you guys are right.  he has had a small shoulder injury on his left shoulder for about two months.  it hasn't heeled up, it collects fluid in his shoulder and the vet can't do anything about it.  she wanted us to lock him up in a cage for long periods of time to hope it heels with no activity.  i couldn't do that to him, you guys know how much energy a dobie puppy has.  the reason i don't think it was the shoulder is because he has never shown any signs that it bothers him.  the vet said she didn't think it bothers him but i don't know.  i did go to the kennel and pick him up today.  they let me have him back because all of his shots were up to date.  I'm not blaming the dog here for this and that is why our family has decided to give him another chance.  you right when he growled i should've stopped got him down from the couch and talked to my daughter about what she was doing was wrong.  i didn't do that i had my brother over and he was talking to me and there  was allot going on but that is no excuse.  my daughter is here with him now and she doesn't seem to be nervous around him.  he has already been banned from the couch which he didn't like.  my daughter has been given new sets of rules for blaze.  we are retraining him and ourselves.  I'm going to look for a trainer right away.  i just had to get him out of that pound.  he hadn't ate or drank anything in twenty four hours, he was starved.  if he shows any signs i will place him in a good home without kids.  my daughter will be supervised with him from now on.  i should've been doing that to start with.  i think my problem was we got him near the end of my male boxer's life.  he was well trained and i spent allot time getting him to that point.  everyone would commit on how well trained he was.  i just didn't train blaze like i should've.  i guess i just carried on like he was already trained enough and didn't do what  i know was right.  i was lazy and it cost my daughter, blaze and our whole family allot of pain.  this was a wake up call for me and our entire family.  things will be different here.  thanks again everyone for the comments. 

Lady Kate's picture
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Wishing you the very best.

I'm sure this has been most upsetting for everyone..

Good new start and thank you for being so open to suggestions and advice.. It takes a big man with a good heart to say I was wrong.

Hope your daughter's face heals without problems and that she and Blaze will grow up to be the best of friends.

KevinK's picture
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Glad to hear!  Keep in mind that dogs, especially dobermans, will not show pain.  if they are showing pain, it means they are really, really hurting.  Showing pain for an animal is a weakness, and a liability, so more often than not you may not even realize that something is bothering them unless it really hurts...  Like a kid putting weight on a bad shoulder!

But it's awesome to hear that you are going to keep the pup, and look into getting some help.   Feel free to ask any questions you may have, and keep us updated on your progress! 

Wolfgirl_121's picture
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I'm really glad to hear that you decided to work through it. I'm also glad that you know that he's not to fault. The fact that you had another dog that was so well trained comforts me because it shows that you know what you need to do to fix the problem.

Give Blaze a nice scratch behind the ears for me!!

   Joy

jeshykai's picture
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Really... commendable attitude.

We all have accidents, so do dogs.  I'm hoping that this is something you can truly correct.  The right attitude and attention does help.  

Keep us posted with things... any questions/concerns/or updates are always welcome here.

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Hi, and I wish you nothing but a good outcome from this unfortunate situation.  One thing that I think has been missed here was your dogs understanding of his placement in the family pack.  My feeling is that he was claiming you as "his" and testing his place in the heirarchy of the family.  He's young and it's starting to happen.  My 6 month old female tests me constantly, although she is the sweetest thing ever. It a natural thing for a dog to do, especially stong breeds like dobermans.  However, the humans that live in the house get the preference and the status. It should be understood.  It's just really hard to get the point across to the dog, and more so, the humans!  The injured shoulder was probably the last straw. 

We all wish you the best and hope you find the proper and most effective way to deal, for your daughter's sake.

Lori's picture
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Sounds like most of what needed to be said already was covered above....Everyone makes mistakes with their dogs, mine is far from perfect but there are some pack rules that really do need to be understood with a working breed like Doberman's.   Placement in the pack is critical to a well trained dog....

 

I'm glad that you are keeping him and I hope you enlist a good trainer to work with both you, your family and the dog....sounds like he's a good dog that was just let become to high ranking in the pack...

 

I know the injury seems horrible to you and I'm sure terrifying to your daughter but when you consider what your dog is capable of doing it truly was just a warning snap to say 'get out of my face'  Just remember  - stop interpreting actions with human emotions (hugging = affection vs hugging  = dominance) and learn what those actions mean to a pack.  Ceasar Milan is excellent at this stuff.....