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to not care if a dog "won't bite"?

71 replies

create · 27/04/2011 16:25

DS1 is scared of dogs. It started when he was 3, we were at the park and a young boxer bounded out of the woods, but his paws on DS1's shoulders, knocked him over and had him pinned to the ground while the dog licked DS1's face. DS1 wasn't hurt and indeed the dog didn't bite, but it must be quite scary to be trapped by an animal larger than you. The owner did put the dog on a lead, but wasn't appologetic, as he was "just a puppy"

Anyway, DS1's not as bad as he was now he's getting older but he doesn't like dogs coming up to him and especially not jumping up at him. If a dog can't be trained not to approach strange children shouldn't it be on a lead?

I've lost count of the number of time we've been told " don't worry he won't hurt you" as if it's DS1 who's weird when their dog is sniffing aound his picnic (or shoes etc).

OP posts:
blueshoes · 27/04/2011 22:35

Beertricks, your reassurance that you won't let the dog get close is far more insightful and helpful than the silly comments about the dog not biting or the dog being friendly.

As a parent of a dd who is (irrationally) afraid of dogs, I have no patience with some dogowners who, rather than control their dog, make it their mini-project to win my dd over to their mutts. Like I care. I just want to get on my way with dd, not have her hiding behind me with some dog in my way.

I have to say most dogowners in my area are understanding and will pull their dogs to them or cross the road when they see my dd cowering in the distance.

Vallhala · 27/04/2011 22:46

As they should, blueshoes, as they should. I've got 3 large dogs, 2 of which are GSD (although only one looks like it, to non-doggy people the other looks like a big longhaired golden retriever with pointy ears and a longer coat!). I appreciate that not only can they look intimidating they can take up the whole pavement in my little village so if anyone's passing us on the path I make them sit to one side of me so that people can pass. Likewise I call them to me and keep them sat at my side, on or offlead depending on situation, when out walking on fields and footpaths when people approach.

Yet as I said above still I've been shouted and sworn at. It also gets my goat when folk don't have the manners to acknowledge me with a thank you or even a nod or smile as they pass... it's a bit like holding a door open for someone in a shop. I don't have to do it but I do as a courtesy and manners to acknowledge that cost nothing.

On the plus side it's great to meet polite parents whose DC look longingly at my dogs and who ask of they might stroke them. Then I invite them to stroke one of them, my bombproof biggest GSD, whilst praising them for asking, saying they must always do so and that they must always ask Mum or Dad too. The joy on a little one's face as they make friends with my Shepherd is a sight to behold.

Shame not every parent and child is like that though.

GnomeDePlume · 27/04/2011 22:48

I find myself getting a bit tired of people saying that I should be teaching my children dog etiquette and that if someone gets bitten it is because they didnt follow the rules of doggy Debrettes. For crying out loud it is difficult enough teaching children to eat with their mouths shut let alone teaching them what is the acceptable way to greet a dog when out and about.

I'm afraid I have told my children to steer clear of all dogs. When we are at a house where there is a dog I do tell them to leave it alone entirely.

ShowOfHands · 27/04/2011 22:54

Vallhala, can I ask you a question about a dog and its behaviour towards my dd?

whethergirl · 27/04/2011 22:55


The words "don't worry he won't bite" are pointless when coming from the mouth of a stranger - "Yes, but you might be a compulsive liar or a complete nutter for all I know" is what I feel like saying.

I do find this a problem when I go out running in the park, and since I got nipped at the ankles a few weeks ago, I've become more apprehensive (and sadly, now a bit nervous) with unknown dogs. Generally, I like dogs, I think they are great, and will cuddle up to and make a fuss of dogs I know. But, just like I don't trust complete strangers, I don't trust dogs I don't know.

Some dog owners are very aware and conscious of other people but many think it's fine for their dog to come bounding up to you, sniff your arse, bark loudly at you etc. It is not.

So many times when I'm out running, I've had to shout across to dog owners (who are sat outside the park cafe drinking lattes, and looking the other way) "Could you call your dog please!" when I see they are getting closer than I'm comfortable with.

Melly19MummyToBe · 27/04/2011 22:55

Vallhala I love your Fish, he's absolutely gorgeous. I'd love to be able to have any sort of dog :( but due to my stupid allergy we have to be careful to try and find one that doesn't moult too much when we eventually do get a dog.

blueshoes · 27/04/2011 23:03

Val, you control your dogs appropriately.

As for "Shame not every parent and child is like that though.", not every parent or child likes dogs. I can take it or leave it. My ds is the one who wants to stroke, my dd would run a mile. Don't take it personally if people are not gushing over your dogs.

Vallhala · 27/04/2011 23:14

blueshoes, oh god no, as long as no-one is unkind to my dogs (or shouts and swears at me when I've gone the extra mile to be considerate!) I don't take it personally if they don't like them at all. I don't invite dog haters to my home - but then again they'd be unlikely to want to visit me - but I certainly have no problem if the passing public dislike them. TBH I'm not gushing when strangers' small children approach me so I quite understand.

Melly, Fish is an angel. :) (Biased of course!). He's a long term (read permanent) foster boy, epileptic and was originally incredibly nervous of anyone and everyone. I spent many weekends and weeks staying over at the rescue (which I volunteer for) gaining his trust and now he's been here nearly a year and is super. Gets the sort of attention this blonde used to get when she was 20 years younger too! :o

There are lots of dogs which might suit a family with allergy sufferers in their midst... not just the obvious ones like Poodles but some can tolerate short coated dogs like Greyhounds and Staffies too. I'd advise that when you're ready you ask rescue to allow you to meet some Greys and Staffs to see if yourhealth can tolerate a dog which sheds but which isn't excessively hairy and therefore if you can increase your options.

SOH, I'd be happy to help if I can but as you know I'm better with dogs than DC and no expert in either! :)

bluesheep · 27/04/2011 23:50

Before having the DCs I had two very well trained large dogs (rottweiler and a GSD/Kelpie cross) and I used to get abuse all the time. A random stranger yelled at me from across the road once that I was a stupid bitch, as there was no way I could control those animals. All the while both dogs were calmly walking to heel, unlike the furiously barking Heeler he had with him.

I do agree that all dog owners, regardless of the size of the dog, should have control over their animal and make sure they don't jump up on people. I also agree that people shouldn't just walk up to an unknown animal and expect it to roll over and expose it's belly.

ShowOfHands · 27/04/2011 23:56

I just want to know what this dog is doing and perhaps why...

My ILs look after their friends' chocolate lab for them when they go away. She's a few years old, definitely no longer a puppy but still fairly exuberant when she wants to be. She lives in a family with older children (teens) and had no experience of young children that anybody knows of.

We dropped round when dd was much younger (dh was carrying her), first time dd had met the dog and Jinx (the dog obviously, not dd) leapt up from her sprawled on the floor position, crouched, hackles raised, teeth bared. She was growling. DH walked straight back out again, taking dd with him.

We visited again a couple of weeks later and Jinx was there. Exactly the same reaction but her owner was there. She took the dog out immediately.

This has happened a few times now. Owner confirms she has never done this with anybody else. She thinks dd should try approaching Jinx. I've said NO.

I know nothing about dogs, but she's being aggressive isn't she? I just don't understand why.

I would of course never leave dd with her and generally avoid going round if the dog is there but we're very close to the ILs and the dog's often there. I'm just not sure what I'm supposed to do in that situation.

Any ideas? Have you seen a dog do this before? Is it just her age/size (dd is 4)?

Vallhala · 28/04/2011 00:45

Bloody hell what a stupid owner! You know how pro dog I am SOH but I can think of no good reason why you should be encouraged to allow your DD to approach a dog which is clearly not comfortable with her.

I haven't seen a dog act like this per se. My own Lab doesn't like small children but because of this I'm sensible and don't put them in that position. I'm not saying he'd bite but if a child went toddling/waddling/staggering up as liittle ones do I wouldn't be surprised if he gave a warning growl so I just wouldn't do it in the first place.

The only exception is a pal's youngest. Pal is exceptionally dog savvy, mum to 4 and long term dog owner, LO is very dog aware and mum and I are very vigilant and sensible. LO and dog get on fine but if LO got over-excitable or pushy she would be stopped by mum and taken away from dog. Never a problem and LO is very good and my dog now accepts her as he does pal's older DC.

If your DD were a cat with whom the dog was going to have to live (don't laugh, hear me out!!) I'd be advising gradual exposure with the cat in a carrier and dog on a lead with dog told NO firmly each time he moved towards the cat in anything which was less than a friendly, calm manner. However your DD isn't a cat, you can't contain her like that and thus you can't make progress in the same way. (Works with cats, btw, tried and tested many a time).

I've absolutely no idea why Jinx is acting like this, I hold my hands up to defeat here. Perhaps bad past experience, perhaps fear of the unknown if Jinx has never met a small person. Dunno.

I'm normally TOTALLY against this idea but can only suggest that you insist that the two are kept seperated when you visit. If this were a dog which you or MIL owned I'd say that to seperate would increase anxiety, inquisitiveness and even jealousy in the dog and needed to be worked on (perhaps with a behaviouralist) to restore harmony with a gradual introduction under supervision but dogs are like kids... as much as they can be influenced by early experiences such as the OP's DC who is scared of dogs having been bounded at in the park and thus remember it all long-term, they equally tend to lose track of things when they are not regulary exposed to them.

By this I mean that, for example, the toddler who goes to a CM 5 days a week regularly is less likely to be stressed away from mum than the toddler who goes to the creche once a month. Likewise if Jinx were able to be regularly exposed to your DD every few days and trained to accept her Jinx would get her head around the concept of dealing with a small child, Jinx is IMHO far less likely ro do so when she only sees DD every now and then and training in meeting a 4yo is only sporadic and interdispersed with her regular life.

I rarely advocate seperating a child and a dog but I can't see any other solution given that DDs contact with her is infrequent and that you have no control over the training of Jinx nor can you offer consistancy in giving her contact with young DC.

BUT.... I'm not a behaviouralist and I'm useless with children (see mine for proof!). All I can say is that if only for dog-centric, acadmic purposes I'd be interested to know Jinx's past and whether she was reared with her owner's DC or came to them in later years. Perhaps my best advice is that you repost in the Doghouse for the attention of minimu who is a trainer/behaviouralist as I'm sure she will have the answers and rubbish all I've said because she knows far more about dogs than I do, I just save 'em!

emptyshell · 28/04/2011 08:03

Oh God Val... I'm with you on people giving you a gobful of crap when you've moved the dog over to the side of the pavement and have them sat, totally focused on you (ok so the treat in my hand - I cheat). I've been told I should walk the dog only at midnight so no one's around, shouldn't use any open space, that I shouldn't have a "fooking big rottweiler" (he's a collie/german shepherd cross)...

I also fucking hate it when kids come and approach him un-asked... I know the dog's safe, I don't know the parent of the kid isn't a raging neurotic who'll go running off with false allegations and put my dog's fucking LIFE on the line. I bloody well tell kids off who approach my dog without asking - for HIS protection - I'm not prepared to put him at risk.

At the same time - I pay council tax, I'm fucking well going to use the woodland and open space maintained by the council, and, since it's council-aproved as an area you're allowed to exercise your dog off-lead in... I'm going to walk him offlead. He doesn't go bowling up to people or dogs - he's an anti-social little fucker too obsessed with sniffing everything - but people still don't drop the bloody attitude... so I give it back now in bucketloads.

Ephiny · 28/04/2011 10:04

I have experienced the same, emptyshell - though my dog actually is a rottweiller :). Have had people scream and snatch their children away or swear and yell abuse at me - when he's just trotting along quietly at my side several feet away from them, and hadn't even looked at them (until they started shouting anyway!).

Just the other day I had him on a short lead on the pavement (walking beautifully to heel, no pulling or anything) , and a woman with a pram coming towards us at some distance stepped right out into the road (well into the middle of the lane) to avoid us. I just don't understand it, surely that's more dangerous than walking past a well-behaved on-lead dog. It was a wide pavement with plenty of space for them to pass, and I would have happily stood to the side if necessary.

I don't let him run up to people we don't know, he knows not to jump up etc. I can completely understand people being annoyed or frightened by this - though I would tend to make allowances for puppies in training. It would be nice if people could just behave rationally and sensibly in return. Don't expect everyone to 'gush' over him (though I have to admit most people do because he's so gorgeous and sweet) - just mind their own business and we'll mind ours.

ShowOfHands · 28/04/2011 10:07

Thanks Val, I do appreciate your insight. You have confirmed part of what I wanted to know. This dog is not 'playing' or inquisitive, it's being aggressive.

The thing is MIL and FIL look after her over the weekend a lot of the time atm and we visit every weekend so we see the dog at least fortnightly, if not weekly and I didn't know if I was unreasonable wading in and demanding things of a dog that isn't mine ie while we're there she's kept in a separate room. Or dd and I go to a seaparate room and they are a bit more vigilant about keeping doors closed.

I'd perhaps understand it if dd had ever run up to her, run around in her presence or approached her at all. But it's only ever got as far as walking in. It's like a switch flipped.

She was a rescue dog which is probably relevant but not from a family with children and was only allowed to be placed with a family with older children. I'm sure it's possible that she's met a child before and it wasn't in a nice situation. She was in a fairly poor state when taken on by the rescue centre as a puppy. Hiding was her default position at first so I'm told. Teens are the youngest she's encountered. She's obedient, well trained and her owners are experienced, consistent dog owners. They're as stumped as the rest of us.

Strange because she's a dopey, friendly, happy go lucky dog who will sit with her head on my feet mooning up at me when dd's nowhere around. Walk into a room with dd and she's up and growling. She will also bark if she can see dd approaching out of a window and sort of runs backwards and forwards, spinning on the spot and just looking ridiculously agitated.

I've trained dd well, don't worry. She doesn't approach any dog, is calm around them and largely remains uninvolved unless a dog approaches her and then we take the lead from the owner. She's certainly not scared of dogs (Jinx or otherwise) which is a relief because she could be. She's more of a cat person tbh. Or smaller things with beady eyes and several legs that scuttle.

ShowOfHands · 28/04/2011 10:13

I'm not one for leaping into traffic when a dog's coming towards me, I largely behave as I would if anybody else was walking towards me be that an elderly woman with shopping or young woman with a pram. I share the pavement as best as I can and smile (I smile at everybody in quite a deranged fashion). I also say thank you if somebody makes an effort in any way to allow me past. It's manners.

But with dogs I think it's difficult to appreciate how some people might feel about them. It's not a comment on your dog or all dogs. I think it's sometimes just a reaction to personal experience.

My Dad for example was bitten very badly by a Jack Russell whilst working one day and ended up with a nasty infection and lots of stitches. He doesn't behave in any way that would give it away but if he encounters a JR, he does bristle and diplomatically move away.

I can't understand people that leap 10ft in the air and screech like a demon when they see a tiny spider. But I appreciate that their fears are not mine and it's probably not nice to feel that way. I don't judge them for it.

BeerTricksPotter · 28/04/2011 10:32

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ephiny · 28/04/2011 10:41

Oh I know people can't help their fears, and don't want to be too harsh about judging someone who might have had an awful experience in the past. Just that sometimes there could sometimes be a bit more consideration and manners in both directions, not just from the dog owners (though OP has a valid point about that).

Most people of course are fine - and so are most dogs - and for the most part everyone manages to co-exist peacefully and happily in shared dog/human spaces.

QueenofDreams · 28/04/2011 10:47

Oh this annoys me too. (I'm a dog lover btw and grew up with dobermann's staffies, German Shepherds etc) Unfortunately DS has recently acquired a fear of dogs after a great big retriever knocked him flying by jumping up on him (incidentally right after the owner had called 'don't worry, he won't hurt you') Now he has a complete screaming hissy if a dog comes near him. This means we can no longer go to our local park as it's full of dogs off the lead, usually with the owner clear across the other side of the park. And despite the sign at the play area sayin 'no dogs' people generally take their dogs in there too. We've even seen people use the children's play area as a place to leave their dogs so they can eat their picnics!

ShowOfHands · 28/04/2011 10:49

I think there are probably two camps of people. People who have a genuine fear (like the woman who stepped into the road) and they aren't rude or nasty and are taking the time to move themselves away. Fair enough. And then there are people who are twonks who say/shout nasty things. They're just prats though. Nowt to do with dogs, you get them in every walk of life. After they've screamed abuse about your rottweiler they probably spit at a bfing woman and park their 4x4 in a p&t space whilst smoking and/or wearing crocs.

Melly19MummyToBe · 28/04/2011 20:18

I used to volunteer at a horse sanctuary near me, and they have about 6-7 dogs, all rescue dogs. One of them had been put into rescue because a very small child tried to hack her ear off with a pair of scissors and (unsurprisingly) she snapped at said child. She has one ear that sticks up like a GSDs ears, and one floppy one which was the one that was almost chopped off. As a result she is not safe around small children, especially dark haired ones. Maybe something like this happened to your ILs friends lab?

Vallhala we're not planning on getting a dog for a few years due to our baby being due in 5 weeks and 5 days (not that I'm counting :o) but when we eventually do it will definately be a rescue dog. Partly because dogs from breeders are bloody extortionately priced! But mainly because there's far too many dogs needing to be rescued. I'd quite like to get a retired greyhound though, not that I particularly like greys I think they're quite ugly. But they seem like really good dogs, nice and placid IYKWIM? Not sure how child friendly they would be though. Ahh well, suppose we'll cross that bridge when we eventually get to it.

Melly19MummyToBe · 28/04/2011 20:19

Meant to add, Maybe something like this happened to your ILs friends lab that no-one knows about!?!

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