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To not want my ds bending down near PILs’ dog?

(42 Posts)
mumofawoodlouseeater Fri 24-Jun-16 14:23:28

I’m not a dog owner, and don’t know much about dog behaviour.

PILs acquired a new dog last year (not sure of the breed exactly but it looks like a springer spaniel crossed with something else, maybe) – they got it off someone who had got it off someone else… basically, its history isn’t known. The first time we met it, MIL insisted that it was great with kids, and encouraged ds (who is 5) to cuddle up to it, and it then bit him in the face. Hard enough to leave marks for a few days and to upset ds a lot, but not hard enough to require professional medical attention.

When we got home, I set a rule that ds wasn’t to crouch down near the dog. Basically, I just don’t want his face being level with its mouth. MIL knows I’ve set this rule, but keeps encouraging ds to crouch down near it anyway to give it treats etc. (I’m never actually there – DH takes him to visit while I work, and MIL only does it when ds is alone with her, meaning we only hear about it after the fact). This obviously puts ds in a difficult position.

I still feel uncomfortable about it, but what I want to know is, am I being overly cautious with this rule? I’m on the verge of raising it with MIL, but that would cause an argument which I’d like to avoid if I can. Except for on that one occasion the dog has always seemed very docile, and PILs are always talking about how great it is with kids at the park etc.

SquidgeyMidgey Fri 24-Jun-16 14:25:38

YANBU my dog is the softest, soppiest, most devoted family dog on the face of this earth but I wouldn't let my DC do that.

sizeofalentil Fri 24-Jun-16 14:27:14

Raise it with MIL - even if you are being over cautious that's better than having the dog bite him again.

MyKingdomForBrie Fri 24-Jun-16 14:29:03

Overly cautious?! It bit his face! No I don't think you're being overly cautious and I would say if MIL can't observe the rule she should not be alone with DS.

SpinyCrevice Fri 24-Jun-16 14:32:02

I would not have that dog in the same room as a child and I work with dogs every day of my life. I have seen horrific wounds meted out to kids by dogs.
Seriously, keep the dog in a basket style muzzle around the child or separate completely.

SweetieDrops Fri 24-Jun-16 14:32:03

DS wouldn't be going to MIL's at all if I was in your shoes. Your MIL is an idiot, why the hell would you encourage a child to go anywhere near a dog that is aggressive. I don't know why you are putting not causing an argument before your son's welfare.

TobleroneBoo Fri 24-Jun-16 14:34:34

You should raise it with MIL, she sounds a bit of an idiot! Seems she has this disney type ideaology of kids curling up with dogs, rather than being sensible with it. I think at age 5 your DS is still probably within range of the dogs face without having to crouch down. I am a huge dog lover but I would ask MIL to keep them separate when your DS visits, and your DH should back that.

mumofawoodlouseeater Fri 24-Jun-16 14:41:42

I'm so glad you all agree with me about this! I really wanted to put a stop to it but I was doubting myself. I'll definitely bring it up with MIL.

Greyhorses Fri 24-Jun-16 14:46:08

I wouldn't have it in the same room never mind have my child close to it, and I say this as an owner of an aggressive dog!

Paintedhandprints Fri 24-Jun-16 14:48:19

Wtaf? Your ds has already been bitten. Do not visit Mil any more and do not allow her to be alone with ds. Honestly!

mumofawoodlouseeater Fri 24-Jun-16 14:49:01

Can I just clarify - would most dogs not bite a child in the face if they were cuddling up to it? I know this probably sounds like a stupid question but I really am not clued up on dogs. MIL thinks the biting won't be a problem so long as ds doesn't cuddle up to it again. I just want to be absolutely sure I'm in the right here before reinforcing my PILs' idea that I'm melodramatic and confrontational...

ItsLikeRainOnYourWeddingDay Fri 24-Jun-16 14:52:21

Jesus Christ. It has already bitten the child! At that point the dog should have been removed from the house or your child was to never to be in the same room as it again. Poor, poor parenting.

mumofawoodlouseeater Fri 24-Jun-16 14:53:14

Can I just clarify - would most dogs not bite a child in the face if they were cuddling up to it? I've phrased that weirdly. What I mean is, was biting my ds in the face unusually aggressive behaviour for a dog in that context?

SquidgeyMidgey Fri 24-Jun-16 14:55:23

I really don't think mine would bite my children but if they squeezed too hard, surprised him etc he might, you just never know.

DoubleCarrick Fri 24-Jun-16 14:56:39

Tbh my dog is a good boy but would definitely show his teeth if someone got up in his face

mumofawoodlouseeater Fri 24-Jun-16 14:58:28

On the day the dog bit ds, I did ask that the dog was kept out of the room from him. And then PILs kept telling me about how it plays with children at the park "all the time" with no problems and snapping at me/rolling their eyes when I asked for the dog to be out of the room, and I started to feel like I was being ridiculous. Can I please get more input re. whether I should reinstate this as a rule for when my dc visit?

WreckingBallsInsideMyHead Fri 24-Jun-16 15:00:44

Ffs of course yanbu! It has already bit him! I adore dogs and will happily be jumped on by random dogs myself, so not remotely anti-dog.

But even non aggressive dogs are likely to interpret bending to their level as inviting play, which may be too rough for a child depending on the dog and child.

The poor dog is going to snap again because it has a stupid owner who clearly isn't reading the dogs body language when it wants space, or even using common sense and realising most dogs don't want small children in their face!

Your DS certainly shouldn't be bending down to the dog again. If he's happy to and they are constantly supervised by a responsible adult then the benefit of him seeing the dog again is to get over any fear of it. But if you can't trust the adults to enforce sensible behaviour then don't risk it.

WreckingBallsInsideMyHead Fri 24-Jun-16 15:03:57

I suppose many dogs would snap in that situation, especially if they're recently rescued so it's a new environment for them. It had probably been trying to say it had had enough for a while before it bit him. If he didn't do much damage it's unlikely it was meant as more than a "leave me alone now!" nip. Obviously very distressing for you and DS though, and I would be wary of it escalating if the dog is stressed reoeatedly

dustarr73 Fri 24-Jun-16 15:07:31

Mumofawoodlouseeater im not being smart but you really have to ask.There is no way my child would be allowed over with mil.The dog has already bitten him once,theres no point waiting until he goes for your ds again because he will.AN

You have to say it to mil and also your dh,hes the one letting your child stay with mil unsupervised.

PacificDogwod Fri 24-Jun-16 15:12:24


Your PIL need to inform themselves about dogs, dog behaviour, children/dog safety.

I am a dog owner, I have DCs, the youngest was 5 when we got our rescue greyhound (large dog, big teeth, history hazy). We have very strict rules in place, the kids know what warning signs to look out for the dog wanting to be left alone. He is very good in that he will growl (rarely, and only in the context of resource guarding - we are working on this).
No way would I leave DS alone with PIL's dog under the circumstances you have described.

There are lots and lots of resources that explains about how to introduce children to dogs safely and how to keep them safe.

Spudlet Fri 24-Jun-16 15:17:57

Most dogs would feel uncomfortable with a person getting in their face. That's pretty aggressive, intimidating body language, if you're a dog. Obviously we've no way of knowing what, if any, warning signs the dog gave first but regardless of that, it has now snapped and should be treated with the appropriate level of caution as a result.

Your mil continuing to push this is totally unfair, both on your DS and the dog.

CharminglyGawky Fri 24-Jun-16 15:19:00

By encouraging 'cuddles' your mil was putting your son at risk and the dog in a really bad situation. A dog would normally go through a range of warning behaviours before snapping but if these were ignored or if at some point in his past he was punished for them, growling for example is often punished but if a dog can't growl it has lost it's main way of saying 'oi I'm not happy with this!' Without being able to warn anyone snapping is common.

Now he has snapped and actually bitten I would keep child and dog seperate. Mil is no longer allowed to babysit if she cannot be trusted to follow such a simple rule. If she kicks up a fuss just look confused and say 'the dog bit him on the face, how am I over reacting here? ' surely nobody could have an answer to that one!

My dog is soppy, loves cuddles, loves kids and has never shown any aggression towards anybody. I still stopped a young family member from grabbing her round the neck for a cuddle, it is not fair on the dog and puts everyone at risk!

Floralnomad Fri 24-Jun-16 15:20:16

Tell your husband that he has to tell her that the dog is not to be near your child , it's his parents let him deal with it .

PacificDogwod Fri 24-Jun-16 15:20:32

Blue Cross advice

Dogs and children RSPCA

Kennel club

Stop the 77 - 77% of dog bits come from family/friend's dogs

Be dog smart from the Dog Trust - you could print this out for the in laws - PDF

I suppose it depends on what kind of relationship you want your DS to have with the in laws' dog. IMO it is an important life skill for children to be dog savvy, because love them or hate them dogs are all around us. I also depends on what kind of relationship you want with your PILs grin, but your DS's safety clearly MUST come first.

PacificDogwod Fri 24-Jun-16 15:23:28

Oh, and leaning over a dog is likely to be interpreted as an aggressive move and in a fear-aggressive dog will lead to a snap.
As your DS's skin was not broken I would ague that the dog's bite inhibition was still kicking in: he did not bite him as hard as he could have. A dog wanting to do real damage, can.

The dog needs knowledgable socialisation training, your family need to learn about dogs and, most importantly the PIL need to educate themselves.
If that is not possible or not desirable, stay the heck away from the dog.

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