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Would you take a nice dog that had a bad moment?

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  • Would you take a nice dog that had a bad moment?

    I need some advice. My BF and I had been discussing getting a dog, but decided to hold off because there are too many unknowns. What if our dog doesn't do well with horses and can't handle being off-leash at the barn? What if he's difficult to potty train or has terrible adopted dog issues? What if he doesn't take to crate training or can't be home alone until BF gets home from work?

    I received an email today from a friend at a barn I used to board at saying that the BM was having to get rid of her dog. I knew the dog (smallish mostly black lab mutt) and he's a great dog. Was fine wandering the property on his own, respected horses, loved to play, loved people, got along with the many children and other dogs who visited the farm, etc. He's also crate trained, house broken, and is reasonably obedient, though jumps on people when they are very excited to see him (ie me, because i loved him and thought he was hilarious). I'd throw rocks into the pond for him and he'd jump right in and swim around biting at the water, making no attempt to find the rock.

    Unfortunately, the reason she has to let him go makes me nervous. She lives at home and her 18 month old sibling apparently cornered the dog and he bit the child enough to draw blood, but not enough to cause serious harm. I don't know more about the situation than that, but knowing the dog, this surprised me greatly. Mom says the dog needs to go or be euthanized.

    My BF and I have plans to NOT have children, and maybe have our nieces and nephews in the house twice per year. I have several dog sitting options for when we visit family and choose not to expose the dog to hoards of chitlins. BF used to work in a doggie daycare and is great with disciple and training, though he does say we would have to do aggressiveness testing before agreeing to take him (give dog food, take food away. give dog toy, take toy away).

    Our other concerns are that a dog used to roaming a farm would be unhappy spending 5 days a week at home for 9 hours a day. I could work from home for a while to help him transition, but not forever. On weekends he can go to the barn (zero children at this barn) with me and would get walked plenty during the week. We also have many dog parks nearby.

    I'd love to hear thoughts and opinions on this. He either needs a new home or he will be put down, which is really such a shame. I know how roughly toddlers treat dogs sometimes, but I'm still worried about the liability.

  • #2
    If I knew I could 100% keep it away from kids, yes I probably would give it a try. My parents' last dog was a biter-- he got shut in an upstairs bedroom whenever someone was visiting who couldn't be trusted to give him his space (he did bite pretty much everyone in my immediate family at some point but it sounds like this dog is much nicer.)


    • #3
      I would give the dog a chance, but do get more details on the incident as well as doing the aggression testing. If the dog passes flying colors, and it's clear the dog had reason to be provoked enough to bite, then give him a chance at a second home.

      I had a small, unsupervised child rush and corner my well-trained, non-aggressive but shy dog and I was shocked he DIDNT bite the kid. That would be the normal response for any animal who feels threatened and is trying to tell whatever creature is cornering it to give it some space. I should add, same kid also tried to ride my dog (who's a corgi) and blew his nose on his ear. Mother was totally unphased by this and insisted to me she wouldn't let her child do this if she thought my dog was dangerous.... Ummm yeah but he clearly was highly uncomfortable and now runs behind me trembling anytime he hears the kid's voice.


      • #4
        My 45 year old BF provoked one of our dogs and he drew blood, but not without the dog giving him several warning growls. I don't plan to get rid of either one of them and now the BF knows his " in your face play" like that is not acceptable My warnings weren't clear enough, apparently. It sounds like you will be able to control the child situation and many rescue groups will not adopt with children under 12 in the house for just that reason. I would expect he will adapt to the new living arrangements just fine.


        • #5
          A friend's boyfriend gave his dog a second chance after he bit a kid. She was savagely bitten in the neck when the dog attacked her a few months later. He is now ex-boyfriend of course, because he said he was going to give the dog one more chance.

          Fortunately dog is now dead.

          Fool me once, etc.


          • #6
            This is 100% my personal opinion, but there are SO MANY dogs in the world that wouldn't bite even if you pulled out their toenails one by one. Many of them are being put down in shelters on a daily basis. I'd let this guy go and give a dog with no past instances of biting/aggression a home.
            Originally posted by BAC
            I don't think FF's post was rude (not this one at least).


            • #7
              I've had dogs that aren't reliable with children, no big deal for me. I kept them away from children.

              I don't think any child should be allowed to play unsupervised with a small child anyway...the situation should have never happened.
              Off Topic Discussion about Life, Interests & Politics


              • #8
                Take the Dog

                You sound VERY responsible. You're going into this with eyes open. Just be sure he gets plenty of exercise several times a week and he should be fine making the transition from barn dog to apartment dog.

                Even if he didn't pass the 'aggression' test with flying colors, he sounds like a solid citizen. You can work around him biting when he's been cornered by an unsupervised child.



                • #9
                  Yeah, I'd take that dog. From what was said here, I suspect the toddler had a hold of the dog's face or was planning to and dog did what he had to do to escape.
                  Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. Stephen R. Covey


                  • #10
                    I took on an Irish Setter bitch that nailed a kid.
                    No kids of my own, and easy enough to keep her away from visiting children.
                    14 years of a great relationship.
                    I still miss her.
                    "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                    ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                    • #11
                      I'd give it a try.
                      The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)


                      • #12
                        I would definitely consider taking this dog. I'm sure there is more to the biting incident than you're being told. If all checks out, sounds like a good dog!


                        • #13
                          I personally would take the dog. You should probably find out the specifics of what happened so you can manage the dog better, but since you aren't around kids a lot that takes some of the risk out of it.


                          • #14
                            My dog is not child friendly. I just don't put her in that position.
                            She is not aggressive, but feels scared/threatened/protective when small children get in her space.
                            I know this and just don't put her in that situation.
                            She has never bitten because I am aware of this and will remove her if there are threatening kids present.
                            "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


                            • #15
                              Our 17 year old ACD mix once bit the neighbor's kid. She was 11 or so at the time? She was sound asleep in our driveway, keeping DH company while he worked on his truck. The boy, maybe 10 at the time?, came running up, yelled "HI" and kissed her on the face while she was asleep, scared the crap out of her and she snapped and caught him...enough to draw blood but no serious damage. We really never worried about it, even the boy's mother understood what had happened. I raised my youngest with this dog in the house, I just never left them together unsupervised until he was old enough (like 8!) to understand NEVER to touch the dog when she was on her bed, never sneak up on her, ask "permission" before touching and don't try to restrain her in any way.

                              Our BC mix, on the other hand, you can do ANYTHING to her. My 2 year old niece was just visiting for several days and she could pull that dog's tail, sit on her, bite her feet, you name it, dog put up with all of it, happy for the attention. We did not allow niece near the ACD.

                              I guess it really depends on how much of a commitment you can make to keeping the dog safe from kids (yes, dog safe from kids, which will keep kids safe from dog ), if you can do it, one mistake doesn't have to be a deal breaker.


                              • #16
                                We have some good friends of ours that euthed one of their own dogs years ago for biting their toddler (we didn't know them at this point). Apparently the dog was always good with kids, never aggressive, but their kid did *something* to provoke the dog. Family was outside, kid on one side of the car, parents on the other. Kid screamed, and when the parents ran around the car they saw the kid on the ground with a bite wound (drew blood) and the dog was standing over the kid in an aggressive stance. I call it "pinning" but dog wasn't actually touching the kid, just hovering. They'll never know what happened; could have been a brain issue, could have been the kid really scared the dog somehow....but the dad humanely euthed the dog. Even if it was totally the kid's fault, they couldn't guarantee that it would never happen again. Really sad.

                                Let me say this first: I'm not a mother, so I understand that alters my mindset. But. If it were me, I would have given that dog a second chance. DH completely agrees with our friend, however, and has said that he would do the exact same thing if one of our dogs ever bit a child.

                                With your dog, I would be tempted to try it. Get more information on what happened. Observe him very closely. Try to avoid whatever triggers might have caused his reaction the first time. I would also try to expose him to kids (very controlled environment) to see how he acted....realistically, he will probably be around a kid again at some point, so I would feel better knowing he is normally ok with them.
                                Last edited by talkofthetown; Dec. 10, 2014, 04:53 PM. Reason: typo


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by french fry View Post
                                  This is 100% my personal opinion, but there are SO MANY dogs in the world that wouldn't bite even if you pulled out their toenails one by one. Many of them are being put down in shelters on a daily basis. I'd let this guy go and give a dog with no past instances of biting/aggression a home.
                                  I can completely understand this viewpoint, but I also think that it is fairly predictable for a dog to bite when cornered with no escape route. I had the best dog ever, and I was working with a trainer who told me I would spend the rest of my life looking for another one just like him, and that trainer taught me to always always make sure the dog has an escape route when applying any sort of pressure.
                                  A history of a bite is certainly not ideal in any dog. For many, a dog without that history would be a better bet. Since you know the history, you will have to keep the dog away from kids, with no room for error. That is what is best for all concerned. Luckily, even if kids visit you can crate the dog with a treat.
                                  There are many dogs in shelters and there are many different temperaments in dogs. However, there is no perfect dog and personally I think all dogs bite - with different triggers. A week before this happened, the dog's owners would have probably told you the dog would never bite no matter what, and here we are. The dog was cornered by a child, and that was the trigger.


                                  • #18
                                    Yes. The dog will adjust to indoor life if you can provide enough stimulation (regular walks, interactive toys). Knowing a dog and its quirks is the big thing. I think many situations that result in bites as you've described stem from taking advantage of the dog's good nature. Ultimately, a situation in which the toddler was able to corner the dog should not have occurred. That being said, it is difficult to fully prevent those types of encounters unless the dog and the toddler are completely separated.

                                    It's foolish, IMO, to assume the dog was roughed by the toddler. For some dogs, simply being followed by an unpredictable little human is provocation enough to defend itself. Dogs don't "get" toddlers. Some are perfectly tolerable of them and don't appear to mind being followed, patted, sat on, etc... but others have more rigid expectations of normal dog-human interaction. This particular dog falls into the latter category, so if/when you have nieces and nephews over, it will be up to you to enforce the dog's boundaries so that it doesn't take matters into its own paws/teeth. This also means being strict with your nieces and nephews. If they can't interact with the dog on your rules, then you'll have to put the dog away (i.e., crate in another room). And while on a human level that may seem unfair to the dog, you will probably find it much less stressful on the dog to retreat to a safe space that it doesn't have to defend.
                                    "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh


                                    • #19
                                      Our sweet lab mutt bit my daughter. She starred at him and growled, pretending to be a dinosaur. She was 3 and did everything wrong, my fault. Never happened again.

                                      I also was bit by our family dog when I was a kid, drew a ton of blood I remember holding my head over the bathroom sink for a while. Neither of these bites were from agressive dogs, just stupid kids doing the wrong things.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks, everyone! This has been helpful. The BM gave riding lessons to kids and I never knew the dog to really even pay special attention to children, so I think the biting had more to do with him being cornered than an innate tendency toward aggression. My BF has already made it clear though that the dog would have to pass aggression testing 100%.

                                        I live in the midwest but am currently in Alaska on business until Friday morning, and my BF wants to wait to have a serious discussion about it until I'm home and there isn't a 3 hour time difference to deal with. I'm not sure whether to contact the BM in the meantime to get more information or tell her we might be able to take him. I'd hate to get her hopes up then not take him, but I'd also feel really bad if we decided to go visit him in 4 days and it was too late. Thoughts?

                                        This is 100% my personal opinion, but there are SO MANY dogs in the world that wouldn't bite even if you pulled out their toenails one by one. Many of them are being put down in shelters on a daily basis. I'd let this guy go and give a dog with no past instances of biting/aggression a home.
                                        French fry, I totally hear what you're saying, but I really like the idea of knowing the dog first. Our upstairs neighbors (we live on the first floor of a large house, with a couple above us) adopted a 1 yr old coonhound puppy, and it's been a nightmare. For the first month after they brought her home she did the full belly howl whenever they left, and she's shown aggression towards them whenever she has a bone. They are novice dog owners and I don't think they realized how difficult having a young hound in a city apartment would be. I'd be hesitant to try bringing an unknown dog into the house after we've had to go through so much trying to work out their adopted dog issues with them. Really the only reason we're considering a dog at this point is that I know this one and know he's generally trained and a good boy. We could probably handle a difficult dog, but I would want to wait until the "training period" wouldn't both anyone else (ie we own a home). It's really either this dog or no dog for a few more years at least.