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Should dogs automatically be rehoused if they go for a child?

(83 Posts)
nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:10:40

no matter what the background is? What do you think?

JanH Thu 01-Jun-06 23:11:11

What do you mean by "go for"?

nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:12:23

could be growling or snapping but in a minor way even as a one off.

dewmeadow Thu 01-Jun-06 23:12:32

If a dog goes for anyone it should be put to sleep IMO. I love dogs but I wouldnt want to have one I couldnt trust.

nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:13:08

dont want to say too much as so many people use mumsnet these days, you never know!

nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:14:14

or to rephrase what would you tolerate before rehoming etc. Would you try behaviourist first?

2labs Thu 01-Jun-06 23:22:07

Growling/snapping can be so easily misinterpreted. Puppies often mouth/bite, and when excited can grab at things with their mouth. An adult dog that hasn't been taught how to behave could do the same - doesn't necessarily signal aggression. Can also be a perfectly normal reaction to pain/provocation, so in answer to 'no matter what the background' I'd say no. If a child is provoking the dog and won't be stopped there's a good argument for rehoming the dog for the protection of both of them. If the dog is in pain it could be a one-off.
If there is any uncertainty at all I would get a muzzle on the dog or separate it from the child immediately, get a behaviourist in to assess it.

Coolmama Thu 01-Jun-06 23:22:11

It might be worthwhile just trying to take note of what sets the dog off - a particular person, action or has something changed at home - personally I would go to the behaviourist first - I would only put a dog down as an absolute last resort.

nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:30:13

alright I'll come clean. It was my dog.

He had a bone and my 2 and a half year old went to touch it. He has never been protective before over things but he made a loud snarling noise and snapped at her. He left a very faint red mark on her face which has already nearly gone.

He is a very large dog and his face is level with hers. I have spoken to a behaviour specialist at great length who was recommended to me. They said it was probably because he is now founding his feet - we got him when he was a year old 3 months ago- and suggested what we should do. She didnt think he was an aggressive dog as such and it may even have been a reaction to wheat he had that day.

However, I cant tell anyone apart from immediate family as I know what I would think ie I'm mad and risking my daughter in keeping him. My 10 year old and 2 year old worship him and would be devestated if we rehoused him. My husband loves him to bits and keeps making excuses.

THe thing is in my hearts of hearts I cant trust him. I've cancelled ds's friend coming round as how can I let him near someone elses child no matter how small the risk.

Coolmama Thu 01-Jun-06 23:36:50

This is not a problem with your dog - rule number 1 is never, never, never let your dog's food be messed with while he is eating - it is crucial that you make that absolutely clear to your DD. You cannot blame the dog for a purely instinctive reaction - does not mean your dog is aggressive at all -
Feeding plays a large part in the pack mentality of dogs which is probably why your dog is starting to become very protective of his food - I would think the he will be fine - just make sure you always keep lo and dog apart when there is food involved.

2labs Thu 01-Jun-06 23:39:04

Whatever you do you need to take it seriously, as you are. Sounds like resource guarding, which tends to be sort-out-able but absolutely does need to be addressed. What did the behaviourist suggest? Whatever you decide, take precautions - if he were mine first thing I'd do is take away anything he might guard - toys, bones etc.

There is some information about resource guarding and how to address it here if you do a search on it in the 'behaviour' section.

nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:40:06

Yes, I agree, it wasnt his fault and he is not per se an aggressive dog. However, I have been told too that his reaction should have been to walk away. My mum who is 70 looks after my dd in my home and I am also worried it is too much to expect my mum to cope with this responsibility.

I know it is avoidable but as long as there is a risk to my daughter it is really difficult. I feel I am putting her at risk for the sake of a dog.

Securlurking Thu 01-Jun-06 23:40:49

Sorry Hun I have to say, with that info I would def rehome - at least

I have always said I would put a dog to sleep who behaved like this. I guess if your behaviourist says otherwise then I could rehome, however I would probably spend half my time scaring myself with what ifs.

I just don't think it is ever worth the risk. I knwo your kids would be upset if you rehomed, however they would be more upset if something worse happens in the future. As for your DH, he is old enough to understand and he shouldn't make excuses, this is a real decision that needs to be faced.

Good on you for facing up to it - whatever your final choice.

SL xx

nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:42:52

I've gotten rid of all bones and will obviously not buy anymore. We know nothing about the dogs background to know what else if anything there might be that triggers him. My fear is what ifit she drops some food, he picks it up, her reaction is to try to take it off him. SHe is too young to be trusted with him no matter how much we try to train her.

2labs Thu 01-Jun-06 23:43:34

Sorry to disagree with coolmama - IMO you need to be able to be around your dog no matter what he has. I'm not talking about some kind of power-game where you keep taking his toys off him to show him who's boss. Resource guarding is natural/normal/instinctive to a dog, yes, as a survival mechanism, but in a domestic situation it's not to be ignored.

Securlurking Thu 01-Jun-06 23:44:08

The problem is not the gaurding, it is that he thought it was ok to snap at dd - that means he sees himself as higher in the pack than dd. In a pack situation he would have been jumped on - and would never dared to snap = and conect with a higher ranking member - which dd is

Whatecer the reasoning in his head it is unacceptable and even if he can be retrained (which may well be true) I would not allow it to happen in my home. Perhaps in a nhoem without children?

nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:45:47

From what I've read when we got him, it is advised that you do take food from him periodically to show you are top dog which we have always been able to do. We got lax as everything seemed to be going so well but have been told that it would take this long for him to feel he had his feet under the table and start pushing the rules.

2labs Thu 01-Jun-06 23:46:37

I would also not put to sleep, though. It's a very common problem and doesn't usually mean generalised aggression. If you feel you can't trust him I would rehome through a reputable rescue to someone without children.

nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:47:05

I know if he is rehoused ie through rspca or the like, he will only go to a home without children anyway and they will know the history.

nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:47:24

I wouldnt put him down.

Securlurking Thu 01-Jun-06 23:47:59

What if she has food and he decides he wants it - if he has placed himself higher in rank than any food she has that he wants he will believe is his right to take.

I am sorry that this si not the answer you want - and clearly others do not want to suggest such an awful outcome but I really believe that you need to remove this threat from your child.

If nothing ever happens again then great - but that little mark - if it had landed on her eye not her cheack could have meant she was partially sighted for life (ok a little worst case but true)

2labs Thu 01-Jun-06 23:49:04

Pack theory is way, way out of date. Taking food from him without rewarding/replacing as part of training may well be what caused the guarding in the first place - a dog that is always having his stuff taken away from him will develop a complex about it.

nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:49:17

actually I came here to get honest answers so thankyou securlurker. I really do mean it. My kids come first.

Securlurking Thu 01-Jun-06 23:49:39

sorry slow posting.

I can understand you not wanting to put him down.
What about a shelter? They could properly asses him over time and make really informed decisions about his training/placement etc?

nothercules Thu 01-Jun-06 23:50:04

No, we removed it periodically for a few moments, told him to wait, praised him then gave it back always.

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