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Is there any way back for this dog? Please help urgently

(25 Posts)
rogersmellyonthetelly Wed 24-Oct-12 20:54:38

A friends dog escaped from her house tonight and chased someone and bit them. The dog has always been lovely and nice natured to my knowledge, my kids play there with her kids frequently, as do half the kids on the street. Apparently yesterday the dog also nipped a child from the same household, but not a serious bite, no skin broken, unlike tonight.
Mitigating circumstances, the dog was bitten in the summer by another dog on the street which lives next door to the child who was bitten today, and apparently now has a problem with passing this house when out walking, the dog which bit it is a guard dog and is almost always outside, and can't really be avoided as its right on the entrance to the dog walking field.
Obv I'm desperately upset for my friend who is gutted, as the parents of the child who was bitten have informed the police and are wanting the dog to be PTs.
Clearly the situation at the moment is untenable as the dog does escape from time to time, as most dogs do, and there are loads of kids playing in the street after
School and at weekends.
My gut instinct was that my friend should first take the dog to the vet and establish whether there is any physical reason why it might bite eg pain/illness and also to look at a no kill rescue where a behaviourist could assess it and see if the problem can be resolved with training/different environment or not.
I just wondered if anyone on here knows if the police will likely insist it is PTs or if they may allow it to be rehomed, or really any other option.
Knowing the circumstances and the dog, I think that it may have fear agression from the attack, and that both the kids who were bitten are from the same house, have a dog of their own and which lives next door to the dog that attacked it are what has provoked it to bite.
Just to say I don't want loads of hysteria about this, it's an awful situation, I'm gutted for my friend and for the dog, but would appreciate some honest answers about whether this dog has a chance of being successfully rehabilitated, and whether it will get that chance or not

MrsRhettButler Wed 24-Oct-12 21:01:51

I know this isn't particularly helpful but something I picked up on in your post when you say the dog does escape from time to time as dogs do. That needs to be addressed because actually dogs shouldn't be escaping.

We have a problem with this on our street and the lady who's dogs escape (and have bitten two people) doesn't keep an eye on what her dogs or kids are doing so they are escaping.
I think it needs to be pointed out that dogs shouldn't just be escaping.

I do feel for your friend and I hope they reach a conclusion that suits all. sad

tazzle22 Wed 24-Oct-12 21:16:36

difficult situation to assess

all I can say is....

it is possible to rehabilitate a dog that is nervous aggressive but it does need someone confident, knowledgable and prepared to take the time it takes and keep all concerned safe. The ( ex rescue) GSD curled up on my sofa that is safe with my grandchildren is testament to this. She never actually bit but at times that was not for the want of trying ..... snarling and trying to lunge at some children / men dressed in dark clothing.

I do not know if police will insist on pts........ but it will definately need specialised assessment / input to stand any chance of rehoming.

I doubt very much ........ as you say ........ it will be able to stay where it is if your friend is unable to guarantee the security of the premises and it's getting out.

I am sure there will be people more current in the policies concerned than I am along soon ( its been a few years since I was actively involved in rescue and rehoming work with an organisation)

Good idea to take it to the vet for assessment if this behaviour in a new one in a previously friendly and reliable dog ..... this may stand your friend in good stead with the police. They may also wish to know what she has done to prevent recurrance right now ..... eg dog on leash even when out the back garden for a wee and perhaps even muzzled if taken out for a walk.

MIght seem extreme and may or may not be necessary but she has to be seen to be "doing something" by people who may be taking a very harsh view / not sympathetic / knowledgable about dogs / dog behaviour.

Scuttlebutter Wed 24-Oct-12 21:24:36

Your friend should urgently get in touch with DogLaw - a respected solicitor called Trevor Cooper who specialises in these types of cases. Your friend's dog insurance will almost certainly cover at least some of the legal costs.

Yes, your friend's dog has a chance of rehabilitation, but that requires responsible ownership, and sorry to be blunt, no, most dogs DON'T escape, and they shouldn't. If this dog is to have any chance at all, the first thing the owners MUST do is to ensure their premises are secure and that ALL family members are drilled to NEVER EVER leave doors or gates open.

Secondly, as Rhett says, an urgent vet appt is needed to check and assess for any physical causes. If vet appt all clear, then urgent work with a behaviourist. Meanwhile, all walks in area to be on lead and possibly even muzzled.

Your friend should prepare a review of her dogs' care/history. For example how long has she owned it? Since a puppy? What training has she done with it? Obedience classes? any dog activities such as showing, flyball etc? Any of these would be supportive of demonstrating a responsible owner who was working to ensure a well socialised dog. What is her routine of training/exercise/care? Does the dog receive regular veterinary visits?

Are there any other incidents that neighbours could point to? Has the dog ever strayed/been captured by Dog Warden? Does your friend have a criminal record? Sensitive I know but she will be asked this - dogs are increasingly used as weapons/intimidation by many gangs - if she is an upstanding member of the Church Flower Arranging Guild then so much the better.

Has the other dog been reported to Dog Warden/Council/Councillor/police before?

tazzle22 Wed 24-Oct-12 21:27:34

forgot to say. ... as pointed out by rhettbutler ......

I dont think its usual for "most" dogs to escape from their garden, mine certainly dont. Once should be all it takes for the escape route to be identified and remedial action to be taken....... even if its only to stop poor dogs getting run over on the roads. Mine dont have any road sense at all !!!!

It might certainly be taken into account as to whether the police let the dog stay with your friend or not .... again if she shows she has identified and is addressing this issue NOW it might make a difference........ if she does want to keep the dog of course.

The circumstances and even breed of the dog might, just might, be taken into account. eg border collies often chase/ round up and can "nip" children running, its instinctive. This is understandable and is different from a dog being aggressive ( whether nervous or not) or a dog biting a child as in "bringing them down" .

rogersmellyonthetelly Wed 24-Oct-12 21:30:08

When I say it escapes from time to time it's generally when, like this evening, kids knocked on front door to call for friends, kids answered door, determined dog escaped past child answering door. The dog isn't allowed to roam due to half arsed owner not knowing or caring where the dog is, it happens no more than once a month, our dog does escape from time to time, as do most others on the street, and always by getting past the kids as they open the door.
Trouble is that now if it escapes it isnt just a case of chase the dog down the street until it you catch it as has been the case in the past.

MrsRhettButler Wed 24-Oct-12 21:34:44

Dd HAS to secure our dog BEFORE she answers the door, I suggest your friend does something about this as tazzle says she needs to be seen to be doing something and taking this seriously.

Scuttlebutter Wed 24-Oct-12 21:41:01

Sorry, Roger, but in the circumstances you describe, the dog should be secured BEFORE the door is opened - as a habit, that everyone in the family, including DC, visitors, grandparents, etc should be drilled in. I do homechecking and behavioural support for sighthound charities and this is an absolutely critical issue.

rogersmellyonthetelly Wed 24-Oct-12 21:41:38

They have had the dog since a pup, always walked on a lead as it tends to be selectively deaf wrt recall, but it's only 18 months old so the recall is work in progress. The back garden is secure with a 6ft fence and gate which could easily be padklocked as a temporary measure. We live in a gated cul de sac, and the front gardens have no boundary fence so the front door opens onto the garden and street, no risk from traffic as we all go slow due to random children bikes and scooters. I suppose this means we aren't all as vigilant as the occasional escapee dog means an apology to whoevers lawn it has weed on and rounding up the dog back into the house, rather than a risk of it being run over or running a long way and being stolen/ending up in a pound. Thankfully the dog is a doodle rather than a bull breed, I know if it was my staffy I would have to have her PTs as she would stand no chance of being rehomed due to reputation and the fact that shelters are already full of staffs who haven't bitten children.
Tbh when I saw the dog chasing the kid down the street barking I thought it was playing, and it was only when the child came out with parents 5 minutes later in floods of tears that I realised something was very amiss.

rogersmellyonthetelly Wed 24-Oct-12 21:46:18

Thanks all for your comments, I just needed to know if I was being hopelessly optimistic regarding possibly rehoming, my gut instinct is that the problem stems from the attack by the other dog, and as such may be able to be solved, but obv something has to be done and fast to make sure it can't happen again, for the dogs sake and for the sake of the kids who may be bitten.

Scuttlebutter Wed 24-Oct-12 21:47:14

Bluntly, if your friend cannot secure the dog which is a pretty basic part of dog ownership and safety, then there is probably little point in her going further with this.

In fairness to the person bitten (especially if it was a child) I would take a very dim view if the dog that bit my DC was frequently to be seen out on the street chasing DC - in that case, I wouldn't care how many padlocks they had on the back garden. sad

DogLaw has a website - here Sorry, forgot to paste the link earlier.

rogersmellyonthetelly Wed 24-Oct-12 21:51:14

I think she can secure the dog, it has never been a massive issue before, the dog of the child who was bitten actually escapes a lot more often than this dog, but clearly now the dog has bitten it won't be allowed the opportunity to do so again.

Scuttlebutter Wed 24-Oct-12 21:52:41

Sorry but I am now smiling at the thought of the escaping child grin

rogersmellyonthetelly Wed 24-Oct-12 21:57:51

Lol yes, they escape all the time :0) my younger child has actually bitten someone, albeit her own brother on the leg when provoked.

rogersmellyonthetelly Wed 24-Oct-12 22:00:18

Sorry for waffling on, I just didn't want my friend to have the dog PTs as a knee jerk reaction without knowing if there were other feasible options available. I don't like to see any healthy dog PTs except as an absolute last resort.

tazzle22 Wed 24-Oct-12 22:14:18

I did not infer, or mean to infer, the dog was left to roam at all roger.... in fact I did not even think it as you did say that it was "time to time". However do still agree that children old enough to answer the door should be drilled to put the dog in another room first if need be before answering the door.

DEf not meaning to have a go at all but its just now so vital that your friend takes very careful note of that.. she cannot ever, ever again let the dog out without a leash till recall totally reliable and must be rigid with DC about door security. If its "exuberant play" then maybe it might not be able to play with children usupervised again... especially in a group / fast play situation.

Her dogs life may depend on accepting these principles.

She may have to have some help with her training as even at 18 months its possible to have good recall. As scuttlebutter says ...... training history may be examined and if she has not got the recall sorted by now imo she needs to show willing to do something more positive to remedy the situation.

Its def possible ..... I was able to leave two young dogs of about 1 year old (prob less) in a down or sit wait and walk two football pitches away before recalling both straight to me ( or stop them into a down part way). That was not unusual in our dog club ... its was "expected" to be achievable by all dogs.. even if not such a long distance.

This should be some thing all dogs should be trained to do imo as if they ever do accidentally get out / loose /heading for danger then there is a chance of stopping "stuff" happening.

I am most def not "having a go" or anything like that....... just identifying what I feel are really important points that might help your friend / anyone avoid things like this happening. Its just so sad for everyone involved.... the children, the other parents, the dog, the owners /family.

I hope a solution that suits everyone is found.

tazzle22 Wed 24-Oct-12 22:20:03

oh . have x posted with several posts it took me soooo long to type lol

roger....... if you needed kids rounding up my last collie was absolutely brill at that ...... used to look after my DC when they were young , would not let them stray far from the door !!!

sudaname Wed 24-Oct-12 22:29:10

'escapes as all dogs do'

err no - l have a rescue dog , very nervous around children so therefore a danger to them possibly ,so l have to make sure he never has unsupervised access to them or they to him. He has never escaped, it's not inevitable by any means.

sudaname Wed 24-Oct-12 22:32:55

Sorry you said 'as most dogs do' on rereading but l still really dont think that need be the case. A dog can be kept in securely, if it means the difference between being pts or having a life , it is worth doing.

midori1999 Wed 24-Oct-12 22:43:02

I agree that the first thing that needs addressing is the dog must not under any cricumstances or using any excuse, be allowed to escape. Had it not escaped on this occasion, no child would have been bitten and your friend's dog wouldn't be in this situation now. sad

If the DC can't be trusted to secure the dog before opening the door then perhaps your friend could keep the door locked and the key hung up high next to the door so either they have to ask for help to open the door or they are reminded to secure the dog because they have to get the key down? Then your friend can also work on teaching the dog to stay in the house, which can be done.

I do not know where she stands legally, although I do know someone whose child was bitten by her father's dog. She was very hysterical and insisted that the police 'order' the dog to be put down and kept insisting this for days and then weeks. However, the police told her that the dog must have bitten on more than one occasion to need to be PTS, thank goodness, as humans were totally at fault in this situation. I am not sure if this is generally correct, but that is definitely what she was told.

PandaWatch Thu 25-Oct-12 10:17:11

From what I understand, it is not up to the police to decide on sanctions against the dog and a court order will be required to have the dog PTS. The court will take the circumstances into account but are likely to, at the very least, put some sort of control order on the dog (e.g. on leash at all times in public and/or muzzled). A lot will depend on the actions of the family that have been bitten. How do they feel about this (I know how I'd react if a dog was routinely allowed to escape and bit both me and my child on separate occasions!)? Have they asked for charges to be brought against the owners?

rogersmellyonthetelly Thu 25-Oct-12 10:29:06

They were pretty upset and angry last night, and understandably so. Another child from the same house had been nipped the previous day whilst playing there, and they were on the point of going to speak to my friend about their concerns when the incident happened, the child had gone to knock on the door and the dog had barged past barking, chased the child home and bitten him on the bum in the process.
I didn't see the bite, just the child haring it down the street to his house, with the dog in hot pursuit barking.
Heaven only knows what provoked the dog, has it become territorial in the home, was it the smell of the other dog together with some unwitting action from the child? Who knows.
I just hope that the parents of the child that was bitten will allow my friend to consider rehoming rather than PTs, IMO it's too big a risk to keep the dog in its current environment.

BlackBetha Thu 25-Oct-12 16:31:27

Rehoming is not exactly going to be an easy option for a dog that has bitten a child, and has aggression issues with other dogs. There are rescues and homes that will work with a dog like this, but places are few and far between for obvious reasons.

I don't know what the police or court are likely to say, but would guess the fact that the dog has been regularly escaping is not going to look good sad. Your friend needs to get that sorted out immediately, after the first time that should never have been allowed to happen again. None of my dogs have ever 'escaped', it's not acceptable at all and she needs to understand that.

NotmylastRolo Thu 25-Oct-12 20:39:39

Try using a baby stairgate to stop escaping dogs. We have one across all downstairs rooms so wherever the dog is when the doorbell goes he stays in that room and I can get to the front door without him barreling past and escaping. He knows if he is in the hall when the doorbell goes that he will be moved (shoved!) into a room and the gate closed before I open the front door.

You cannot keep a determined dog in by wiggling your knees and talking through the crack in the door to the postman or delivery person!

rogersmellyonthetelly Fri 26-Oct-12 07:13:30

Just a quick note to say thanks for all your comments and help, the dog has been put in kennels temporarily, basically to get him secure and out of the situation before it escalates further, they will be working with a behaviourist to tacke his issues and hopefully rehabilitate him into the home in the near future. They are moving shortly, and hopefully being away from the dog which has caused him distress and behavioural work will reduce his anxiety to a point where he can recover.
Not an ideal situation, but am pleased he hasn't been PTs and they haven't given up on him. He's a nice dog, they all are.

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