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  1. #1
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    Default Dogs and kids. Yes, Pit bulls...

    Our son is good with dogs. We have three that adore him, etc...

    My FIL and step-MIL have five dogs. We visited yesterday for Mother's Day and I always get a little anxious about two of their dogs around our boy. Two are little ankle biter Shitzoos (yeah, I know that's not correct). They are generally friendly when they come up to him but I watch carefully and tell him not to approach if they are on someone's lap, or with a treat. Two are 3 year old Golden Retrievers they bought from a local breeder. The female is friendly and easy-going. She is also morbidly obese.

    I need to explain how they feed their dogs. Food is ALWAYS available. My step-MIL keeps these giant bowls filled with something colorful and cheap. I don't know the brand name, but I know what cheap dog food smells like. They always have Labs or Goldens and we all know those breeds will eat themselves to death. The average lifespan of their big dogs is about 5-6 years. The little drop-kicks tend to live longer.

    So, anyway, the female Golden is so wide and fat that she doesn't have full range of motion with her head. She is as wide as our Shetland Ponies. No, I'm not kidding. The male has always been a little lighter, which means a little less morbidly obese, but still very sad. I cannot tell them anything. Hubby cannot tell them anything. Their vet refuses to say anything. It sucks. But I digress.

    The male Golden has been shy ever since we first met him. He stand back and barks at us. Well, he's come around quite a bit, so one less dog to worry about. Our son knows never to follow their dogs but wait for them to come to him.

    That leaves the last dog. She is Lab/Pit mix, supposedly, but she has the head of a poorly bred Pit. Now, I have known nice Pit Bulls. I have also met plenty of sketchy Pit Bulls (mostly when I worked as a vet tech or for AC years ago). This is a sketchy one. I couldn't explain what was making me nervous yesterday. I just told them that there was something odd about her behavior. They said I was being silly and that the dog was fine. I followed my instincts and allowed our son to pet her when she approached but told him to keep his face away and pushed her away when she got a funny look in her eyes.

    After we left, I figured it out. What do most dogs do when you pet them? Well, some look at you, but they don't stare. They give you that normal adoring doggy look while blinking normally and shifting their eyes so as not to challenge. This dog stares but wags her tail and acts friendly. I have seen that look before. The sketchy PBs I know do that. Next time, I think I will ask them to keep her outside when we visit. She is nose to face height with our son. Perfect for a horrible bite. I am not taking chances.

    I must add this because apologists are abound: IT IS NOT THE BREED; IT'S THE BODY LANGUAGE

    However, in this case, I am more cautious because the bite would be much more severe with a Pit cross than, say, an ankle biter that can't even reach his face.
    Last edited by microbovine; May. 13, 2013 at 12:13 PM.
    Where the short cows roam.

    War veteran



  2. #2
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    Well, of course a bite from a medium sized dog is going to be worse than a smaller dog. A bite from a labrador is going to be worse than an ankle biter too!

    I find that many people think something is OFF because they are used to goofy golden and labradors and they just assume all dogs are the same. When I am petting Scarlett, she is "staring" at me too. With love and respect..as though she is thankful that she is getting the attention. She learned long ago that sometimes, people just plain suck And she is grateful that she has a good home now who takes good care of her.
    There is a reason pit bulls used to be known as the nanny dog. They take good care of children! Of you came to my house and asked me to put my dog outside, I would ask that you not visit. My home is my dog's home.



  3. #3
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    Chance, I think staring is bad in any dog. If the Golden had done it, I would ask them to keep him outside during our next visit. It's not the breed. I don't know any nice Pits that stare a challenge when someone is petting them. She wasn't rigid, but there was tension. That isn't sound dog behavior. Our GSD is intimidating and can make a hell of a wound, if he wasn't such a sweet mannerly dog. He also looks directly at you with an alert face when you talk to him because he loves the sound, but he doesn't do a hard stare. This dog had the look of a dog thinking about biting. If the tail had stopped or she had become more rigid, I would have snatched my child away and prepared to protect him.
    Where the short cows roam.

    War veteran



  4. #4
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    my pittie cross with 'stare' at you while you pet him. He will not shift his eyes, that would break the "ILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOU" message he is sending. I actually teach eye contact to my animals. I think its important to maintain that for distance teaching...for him to LOOK at me and my face, of course I am 5'8 and can read a dog quicker (like all of us horse/animal people can) than most.

    I think you have some hang ups on how your MIL and FIL treat their pets and you are looking for reasons to not go over. Which is fine. You mentioned the ankle biters, how you disagree with how they feed their dogs, how overweight the larger dogs are (all of which actually has nothing to do with your story, your point was about the Pit).

    Keep feeding the stereotype that Pits are bad and need to be feared.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    You say the dog was wagging her tail - how? A frantic whip-whip-whip happy wag, or sssllllowwww, like she was putting a lot of thought into tail movement? Was her tail carriage high or low at the time?

    I'm sure you know that wagging tail does not necessarily mean "happy to be sharing space with you!".


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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MunchingonHay View Post
    my pittie cross with 'stare' at you while you pet him. He will not shift his eyes, that would break the "ILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOU" message he is sending. I actually teach eye contact to my animals. I think its important to maintain that for distance teaching...for him to LOOK at me and my face, of course I am 5'8 and can read a dog quicker (like all of us horse/animal people can) than most.

    I think you have some hang ups on how your MIL and FIL treat their pets and you are looking for reasons to not go over. Which is fine. You mentioned the ankle biters, how you disagree with how they feed their dogs, how overweight the larger dogs are (all of which actually has nothing to do with your story, your point was about the Pit).

    Keep feeding the stereotype that Pits are bad and need to be feared.
    So what you're saying/advising is that the OP completely ignore her instincts & allow her young son to comingle with the dogs regardless?? Hope you're willing to put your money where your big mouth is when/if (hopefully NOT) the OP is back here with the story re: how her son needs plastic surgery.


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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacardi1 View Post
    So what you're saying/advising is that the OP completely ignore her instincts & allow her young son to comingle with the dogs regardless?? Hope you're willing to put your money where your big mouth is when/if (hopefully NOT) the OP is back here with the story re: how her son needs plastic surgery.
    You see, here is the problem. Thousands of kids EVERY DAY play with pit bulls and are loved by pit bulls. But THOSE are not the ones you hear about. The media like to feed the frenzy that these dogs are going to go off.
    I tend to agree with Munchingonhay that the OP has some other hang ups with the owners and is using the pit bull (who may not even BE a pit bull for all she knows) as a convenient excuse.
    Don't feed the frenzy and don't let the media "educate" you!
    Last edited by chancellor2; May. 13, 2013 at 02:26 PM. Reason: Because Bacardi was right. she never did blame the breed. My apologies and I have removed the phrase that singled bacardi


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  8. #8
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    I just posted a lenghty reply on the "banning breeds" thread. I will say that when my dog is doing her nasty "Im gonna bite you" warning growl, she's wagging her tail...every..stinking..time. Does she mean business? Yep. Sketchy for sure. She is horribly bad with kids, I have no doubt she'd eat a toddler. I think that the OP should just go with her gut to be safe on this one. Doesnt matter if the dog is a Bully breed or a Beagle. JMO


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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by chancellor2 View Post
    You see, here is the problem. Thousands of kids EVERY DAY play with pit bulls and are loved by pit bulls. But THOSE are not the ones you hear about. The media and people like Bacardi like to feed the frenzy that these dogs are going to go off.
    I tend to agree with Munchingonhay that the OP has some other hang ups with the owners and is using the pit bull (who may not even BE a pit bull for all she knows) as a convenient excuse.
    Don't feed the frenzy and don't let the media "educate" you!
    No, my comment has/had absolutely ZERO to do with the breed of the dog (please do point out where I specifically mentioned "Pit Bull". The OP is anxious about the behavior of the dog(s), & her instinct says to keep her son away from them. That should be enough. No need for some soapbox diatribe about lovey-dovey Pit Bulls.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SonicBoom View Post
    I just posted a lenghty reply on the "banning breeds" thread. I will say that when my dog is doing her nasty "Im gonna bite you" warning growl, she's wagging her tail...every..stinking..time. Does she mean business? Yep. Sketchy for sure. She is horribly bad with kids, I have no doubt she'd eat a toddler. I think that the OP should just go with her gut to be safe on this one. Doesnt matter if the dog is a Bully breed or a Beagle. JMO
    Emphasis mine.
    I am definitely NOT telling anyone to not go with their gut. But the bottom line is it shouldn't matter WHAT the breed of dog is (or isn't). If the dog is a mutt, you have no idea WHAT it is anyway.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by chancellor2 View Post
    Emphasis mine.
    I am definitely NOT telling anyone to not go with their gut. But the bottom line is it shouldn't matter WHAT the breed of dog is (or isn't). If the dog is a mutt, you have no idea WHAT it is anyway.
    I was just making a general reply. Not at all aimed at you. My apologies if I insulted you in any way.



  12. #12
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    I, for one, take issue with the term "drop kicks". Yeah. It isn't just pits that deal with hatred and stereotypes.

    Personally if I had a child of that age (height), I would use caution around any and all dogs. Five dogs in a home that aren't super used to kids should be managed and supervised extremely well when a child is present for the safety of everyone. The breed is not really that relevant, IMO.
    Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,
    friendship without envy or beauty without vanity?
    Ode to the Horse. ~ Ronald Duncan


    5 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
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    The load of details running up to the dog who "didn't look right" with your son, and then it being a pit bull make some stuff plain:

    You don't like/respect the way your in-laws keep dogs. After all, what difference does it make that they have crappy little dogs, an obese dog, cheap dog food if all you care about is your kid's safety and this one dog? None of those other factors are relevant to your son and the pit bull's behavior, but they are relevant if your point is that your in-laws aren't trustworthy dog-keepers.

    If you think an animal is going to hurt your kid, do what you have to do in order to keep them separated. It doesn't matter what anyone else says, or even the breed of the dog.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


    2 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
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    There is probably more to be worried about from the spooky Golden than the Pit mix. I have temperament tested a fair number of Pits and Pit mixes, and staring is not a behavior I would be worried about, in and of itself.
    Sheilah



  15. #15
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    I have just read the book "For The Love Of A Dog" by Patricia McConnell, Phd. She describes different facial expressions and body language and what they indicate in a dog. I think she would say that the eye contact the dog is making with the child is confrontational and threatening. I think you are right to keep the child away from the dog and that you have good instincts and ability to read a dog.


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by microbovine View Post
    Chance, I think staring is bad in any dog. If the Golden had done it, I would ask them to keep him outside during our next visit. It's not the breed. I don't know any nice Pits that stare a challenge when someone is petting them. She wasn't rigid, but there was tension. That isn't sound dog behavior. Our GSD is intimidating and can make a hell of a wound, if he wasn't such a sweet mannerly dog. He also looks directly at you with an alert face when you talk to him because he loves the sound, but he doesn't do a hard stare. This dog had the look of a dog thinking about biting. If the tail had stopped or she had become more rigid, I would have snatched my child away and prepared to protect him.
    Two suggestions, the less important one first:

    1) If you don't want to have a discussion with "apologists," don't go out of your way to make sure we all know in your post and thread title that you're talking about an OMG PIT BULL. Easy-peasy.

    2) If you're concerned about whether or not a dog is child-safe, don't let your child interact with it. Waiting for the dog to displays ever-increasing signs of discomfort and then leaping into abrupt defensive action sets everybody up to fail. Be more proactive; don't put kid _or_ dog in that situation in the first place.
    http://longestformat.blogspot.com/

    "The present tense of regret is indecision."
    - Welcome to Night Vale


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  17. #17
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    Mara, it was a slower wag. Not high, like a dominant thing and she had no hackles up (I looked). She didn't look at anyone else that way. It may be because our son was eye level with her.

    I know some dogs are more intense than others but she gave me an uneasy feeling. I should say that the visit before, she just barked at him and ran off so I was watching this time and was happy that she at least came up to us, but her manner was definitely "off".

    Our son is the only little kid that comes around and not often. She should have been properly socialized with children but I think they adopted her when she was close to five months old so they were behind already. They are very nice folks and the dogs are always happy. They just aren't the type to do formal training. They block off the rooms the dogs aren't allowed in but have no restrictions as far as furniture. They also have a doggie door. The dogs don't go anywhere except to the vet's office. The setting is important only to illustrate the environment the dogs are in and the fact that it isn't likely to improve.

    I'm glad the Golden came around. He really worried me last time.
    Where the short cows roam.

    War veteran



  18. #18
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    Bacardi,

    Why are you so snippy all the time. I pointed out that the OP has other issues with MIL and FIL's other dogs and waited till the end of the story to tell us that the dog in question may or may not be a pit, and may or may not be sketchy. She used the previous information to get us on her side that MIL and FIL are not well educated dog owners and she dislikes how they keep them (the crappy food, being over weight etc) She is using that has bait to get us to dislike them too and to justify her reasoning not to go over there anymore.

    NO WHERE did I state that she should allow her child to love all over the dogs and yes, she should be teaching (any parent should be teaching their child how to read body language of any animal) how to assess the situation.

    Her kid could squeeze (AKA hug) the ankle biters (OP's words, not mine) and get a little nip.




    Quote Originally Posted by Bacardi1 View Post
    So what you're saying/advising is that the OP completely ignore her instincts & allow her young son to comingle with the dogs regardless?? Hope you're willing to put your money where your big mouth is when/if (hopefully NOT) the OP is back here with the story re: how her son needs plastic surgery.



  19. #19
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    I'm sorry for the ankle biter term. I was joking. THEY didn't cause any trouble.

    The politics of the situation mean that I must find a way to get along at their house. And they are lovely people. I did vent a bit and maybe I shouldn't have. I care about their dogs (even the sketchy one) and try to educate them but it just doesn't work. Let's face it. I'm the DIL, which isn't exactly an easy position to begin with. My husband recognizes the problems in the way they keep their dogs (I know many cases where the spouse follows along with what the parents do). I need to get along with these folks and I want them to be around our son. Next visit will be a little different. The one dog will definitely not be allowed around our son and the male Golden will continue to be on watch.
    Where the short cows roam.

    War veteran



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tucked_Away View Post
    Two suggestions, the less important one first:

    1) If you don't want to have a discussion with "apologists," don't go out of your way to make sure we all know in your post and thread title that you're talking about an OMG PIT BULL. Easy-peasy.

    2) If you're concerned about whether or not a dog is child-safe, don't let your child interact with it. Waiting for the dog to displays ever-increasing signs of discomfort and then leaping into abrupt defensive action sets everybody up to fail. Be more proactive; don't put kid _or_ dog in that situation in the first place.

    Well said. I wish I had said exactly what you did. Perfect!

    Apologies to Bacardi as well. She didn't single out the breed



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