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Our dog has bitten DS - what can we do?

(68 Posts)
BirdyArms Wed 01-Jun-16 23:58:51

This evening our 1yo saluki cross bit DS1 (11) on the face making a quite a deep puncture wound above his mouth. DS was lying on the floor next to dog stroking his ears, DS2 stepped over dog and he bit DS1's face without any warning growl. This came completely out of the blue, he has never snapped at the DSs before. He is quite an aloof dog and I realise has always tolerated being stroked rather than enjoyed it. Occasionally he has growled at DS1 (never at the rest of the family) and DS1 knows that he needs to leave him alone then. I was in the room and the boys definitely weren’t being cruel to him, and as far as I know have never been. We are staying at my mum’s for a few days and dog doesn’t really enjoy being away from home which I think is a factor.

Having talked it over with my DH we really don’t think that we can keep the dog. The boys love him and this isn’t an easy thing to decide, I have been in tears and am dreading telling the boys. We've had him since he was a puppy, from a rescue that found a pregnant dog so he hasn't had a traumatic life, and I feel that we have failed him but am not sure quite where we’ve gone wrong. We took him to training classes, socialised him by the book etc. But I know that if the boys were more badly bitten in the future, or if he were to bite any of their friends or cousins, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. I know from having read posts on here before that some of you will say that the DSs shouldn't touch him on the head, step over him etc. and I can see that this wouldn't have happened if we'd been stricter about these things. But I feel that now he has done this we have gone beyond that. I'm not sure that it's realistic to have a family pet that the children can't stroke.

I have emailed the lady who runs the rescue that we got him from but have just read on their website that they don't rehome aggressive dogs, so I don't think that they will take him. Is there anyone who will? He is a stunningly beautiful dog and I am often stopped by admirers. He's good in lots of other ways, calm and well behaved but he is generally nervous, despite being well socialised. It would seem dreadful to have him put to sleep but I'm not sure what other options there are?

Greenyogagirl Thu 02-Jun-16 00:01:51

Oh dear, that's not an easy situation bless you X
I'd speak to the boys and go on on pets4homes and say needs a no children home and experienced owner (and ask a lot of money so you know they're genuine)

Hercules12 Thu 02-Jun-16 00:05:13

You should be able to get advice from the rescue as to what to do. Been there myself and fortunately rescue place for breed took our dog and assessed him as not a risk so were able to carefully rehome with experienced owner.

Lurkedforever1 Thu 02-Jun-16 00:15:18

Putting him to sleep is ott, as is calling him aggressive. Look at his point of view. He will have told you with body language he wasn't happy with the attention. Then when you ignored it he upped it to growls, and then as the final straw you take him out of his comfort zone and both boys do things that he isn't happy with. So he gives a warning nip, and even then I would guess he gave an ignored warning before it. It's hardly his fault you've forced him to make it clear he doesn't want the attention the boys offer. And even then from the dogs view it was a nip, not a proper bite or attack:

Contact the breeder, a dog who spent a year warning someone it wasn't happy wouldn't put me or many other people off, so chances are it can be rehomed with someone who'll treat it with more respect.

QuestionableMouse Thu 02-Jun-16 00:29:44

Before you rush into anything, can you afford to pay a really good trainer or behaviourist to come in and assess things?

BirdyArms Thu 02-Jun-16 00:30:24

Hercules12 that's really good to hear, I would be so pleased if the rescue would take him.

Greenyogagirl thank you. I hadn't thought of selling him, would happily pay someone quite a lot to have him. But would anyone want to buy a dog that had bitten a child? Though I honestly think he would be fine in a home without kids, he's never been aggressive with anyone other than DS1

Greenyogagirl Thu 02-Jun-16 00:37:12

An older person experienced in the breed or a couple with no children but with pets. I don't think it's a massive deal for most people if they have no children and can invest time and training etc. Was it an aggressive bite which is one thing (but I think if it was you'd be in a&e not here) or a warning nip which isn't ideal but more understandable. Rescue centres rehome dogs and some are only rehomed with kids over a certain age or no kids or no other pets etc some are labelled as dog aggressive and some are people aggressive but undergo training etc

Adarajames Thu 02-Jun-16 00:37:56

Some rescues will take a dog known to have bitten and take great care to place in home that would be aware and suitable. Don't know where you are in country, but if in SE, try pro dogs direct. Pets 4 homes / similar websites means he'd probably end up as bait dog or such horror

BirdyArms Thu 02-Jun-16 00:43:27

QuestionableMouse - I would be willing to pay a trainer if I thought that we would end up with a dog that we could trust. I'm not sure that I really think that or that I'd be happy to accept the risk to da1 until then but I'd be very keen to talk to a good trainer about him. I think I would need to find a trainer that is familiar with Salukis - the trainer at the classes that I took him to I felt really didn't get him. They were used to much more biddable breeds and not experienced with an aloof dog. For example one exercise was to put them upside down on our laps and cuddle them which he hated and felt quite cruel to do to him. Where could I find a suitable trainer?

TrionicLettuce Thu 02-Jun-16 00:45:24

I absolutely would not sell or rehome a dog, especially one of his type, in any other way than through a reputable rescue. If the rescue he came from won't help then there are lots of other sighthound and lurcher specific rescues across the country, some of which will definitely take (and rehome appropriately) more difficult dogs.

In the immediate future I'd find a behaviourist who can come out and help you at the very least put a management plan in place to keep the dog happy and your children safe. The APBC site is a good place to start.

GinBunny Thu 02-Jun-16 00:51:43

IME any rescue pet will have a clause in their contract that they will have them back if you decide to rehome so that is your first port of call. Speak to them before you do anything else. Is your DS ok? It must have been very scary for him.

BirdyArms Thu 02-Jun-16 00:54:58

Greenyogagirl - it maybe is a warning but it's a reasonably serious one, we would be in A & E if DS1 didn't have an up to date tetanus and my mother's nurse neighbour has put a butterfly stitch over the main wound. It's definitely not just a scratch. I think it will leave a small scar. He's a brave boy and is OK but it was too serious to let happen again.

Adarajames - I think he is a breed that is attractive to poachers in particular so I'd feel very worried about pets4homes. We are in SE so will try pro dogs. And I'm sure that the rescue will have some good advice.

LaPharisienne Thu 02-Jun-16 01:09:11

A dog that bites is aggressive - how anyone can suggest otherwise is beyond me. The lack of warning growl is particularly worrying.

You are ABSOLUTELY doing the right thing - someone familiar with the breed and who is happy to take him on with full disclosure should be fine and a good rescue will help you. Agree with the other posters on going through a reputable rescue; the important thing is full disclosure so both rescue and new owner know what they're taking on.

Well done for being so sensible. What a horrible thing to happen. Don't feel like you've failed your dog - if he's aloof and doesn't like children, he will be happier in a more suitable home.

Plaintalkin Thu 02-Jun-16 01:18:27

I have bred , shown and had dogs all my life.

It doesn't matter whether this dog meant to bite or not , it did. It will never be fully trustworthy around children again so you cannot keep it. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh but when it bites your child again , you can blame no one else.

I rehoused a dog many years ago which was just not a good dog to have round children but it went to an experienced trainer who had no children and knew the dogs history.

Normally, I would not pass on a problem, no matter how pretty or loved the dog is. Personally, I would have the dog put down . Use your head, not your heart on this one. At the end of the day your beloved pet is an animal who does not realise it's place in the pack pecking order.

I'm sorry for the hard words but this isn't a there,there,there solution for this one.

BirdyArms Thu 02-Jun-16 01:18:59

Thanks very much for all your suggestions, and so late at night too. I'm feeling more optimistic that there might be options and a happy future for him.

BirdyArms Thu 02-Jun-16 01:30:25

But cross posted with you Plaintalkin! I am going to see what the rescue say and will definitely make sure that anyone who takes him on knows the full history. I really can't imagine him ever biting me or dh so I think he could live with adults. But I think he needs someone experienced with the breed who knows what they are getting, I hope that's possible.

clarrrp Thu 02-Jun-16 01:46:41

I hate to say it but some dogs simply aren't meant to be family dogs. You mentioned that this dog 'tolerates' being petted - that was your first warning that the dog isn't happy with the household dynamic. Then he growled at your child - that was your second warning. Now the dog has actually bitten your child.

I'm sorry, but the only option here is to rehome the dog. He may be the sweetest dog in the world, but he has an issue with your kids that is NOT going to go away with retraining or time. He is unsafe now to have in your family. And I'm really sorry for you - it's a horrible situation.

But a dog who bites once will do it again - and next time it could be much worse. What would happen if it was a strangers kid in teh park or on a walk or over for a play date? Not only would the dog be put down but YOU would be held responsible and possibly prosecuted.

And that's before we even get into the psychological damage that it can do to the child involved.

Whatever you do - if you chose to rehome him, you MUST inform them of ALL his previous behaviour because if you don't then you again will be held liable.

I'm so sorry.

EttaJ Thu 02-Jun-16 02:03:47

Poor dog. I agree wholeheartedly with you Lurkedforever1, the signs were there by the sound of it. Some people shouldn't have dogs.

Other than that I won't comment because it would be unpleasant.

BirdyArms Thu 02-Jun-16 02:39:54

Gosh EttaJ, I don't want to encourage you to be unpleasant because I am feeling very upset, still on here because I can't sleep, but I really don't understand your comments. I shouldn't have a dog because I let my children stroke him?

I genuinely thought we were doing OK, they have been to dog training with me, have watched YouTube videos on the warning signs, aren't allowed in the dogs bed etc. On the few occasions (a handful over the year that we've had him) that he has growled at ds1 he has immediately left him alone and we have never told him off for growling.

I think a saluki was the wrong breed for us - when we adopted him we didn't realise how much of a saluki he was and were expecting more of a general lurcher temperament. I do feel like I've failed him, and failed my sons but I honestly don't know what I would have done differently.

sonlypuppyfat Thu 02-Jun-16 02:46:23

I know it's not what you want to read but we had a springer spaniel when he bit my son he went to the vet and never came back

VioletBam Thu 02-Jun-16 02:51:29

I'm so sorry this has happened OP. I would like to ask...is it not sensible for children to lie down next to dogs? My big dog is a bit nippy...still only a puppy...and I am vigilant about DD lying down near him or putting her face next to his at all really. I just don't let her...am I over the top?

Beefles Thu 02-Jun-16 04:49:58

Hey, if the dog has always been a bit "aloof" as you say this could be in his nature anyway but the sudden bite with no warning is pretty unusual for dogs.
I'm just going to throw in the mix that he was trained and then bit without any growling or warning. This could very well be a situation where the dog has a neurological disorder that has been getting worse. The dog should go to a vet to rule this out. If it is neurological then it could be painful for the dog. The only option in that scenario I should think is to have the dog pts as he may be very unwell.
At the very least the dog cannot be around your children. The best thing you can do is talk to a vet and explain what happened. They can advise. It is very serious what he has done and from what I have read you have done your best to train the dog and make him "family friendly". He just isn't though. You aren't a bad owner. It genuinely sounds to me like he's got something wrong with him and this is unfortunately how you have discovered it. Please take him to the vet and get more advice on it than people from here. Some of the advice is very good but often some people will only see the good in dogs when this clearly isn't a case of you not bothering to train him/socialise him enough. He's told you something is seriously wrong. Listen to him. It's best for the dog, your children and for yourself.

timelytess Thu 02-Jun-16 05:29:07

The dog bit your child's face.
The dog should be put down.
sonlypuppyfat took the correct line of action.

SomeDaysIDontGiveAMonkeys Thu 02-Jun-16 06:13:45

Hi Birdy
What a horrid shock for you all. I do think by the sound of it that there were some warning signs; you're right he does sound more Saluki in reference to his aloof temperament that they're known for. I completely get where you're coming from in terms of how upset you must feel. We have two dogs, one a rescue and one we've had as a pup from a breeder. Our dogs are very much part of our family, as your dog is and the thought of a life without them seems unthinkable.

However my thoughts...

I think it would be fairer to your four legged family member if they were rehomed in an environment where their personality type would be a better fit.

I originally agreed about the trainer or a behaviourist but then after lying in bed these early hours mulling it over, I kind of thought it would be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Which ultimately would be a disservice to your dog who you clearly care deeply about.

I'm totally against the train of thought of others in him being put down. That seems way over the top, but def. a child free home.

You might also like to try Southern Lurcher Rescue.
http://www.southernlurcherrescue.org.uk/needinghomes.php

There is of course, as has been mentioned, the possibility of of an undiagnosed condition, but personally I think this is more likely to be a temperament and environment issue.

Sorry, can't be more helpful.

froubylou Thu 02-Jun-16 07:02:32

How awful for you all.

You say it is only ds1 he is off with? Has he ever fell on him or accidentally hurt him in anyway? Dogs aren't stupid and remember stuff like this.

My dog is a whippet. Last summer my sister stopped in my house for 20 minutes with her 2 year old ds while waiting for me to return from the school run. While I was out apparently nephew quite badly hurt my dog by squeezin her leg. I was pretty pissed off by it but nothing I could do.

Fast forward to November and me and dp went away for a night. My mum was babysitting. Sister called in with nephew, dog snapped at nephew when he went to stroke her. Never snapped at anyone else before or after.

And when sister comes with nephew who is only 3 I have to crate dog as she is terrified of him. Hackles up, growls and barks.

I would be looking for a home without children. And if you can't find that then pts. I would want references and a home visit to any potential new home and the assurance that he would be returned to you if it didn't work out.

He definitely can't stay with you unless you rehome the dcs. Which might sometimes be tempting I know but not really feasible.

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