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Old 11-17-2007, 09:50 AM
43 posts, read 139,547 times
Reputation: 26


First let me explain the situation so you can get the full picture. We have two dogs, 3 years old mixed large breed dogs. One is very calm and laid back, the other is definitely high strung. He is the dog in question and his name is Duke. My son is 18 months old and since he was born Duke has always been protective of him and very good with him. Normally lets him crawl all over him without a problem. (Supervised of course). In the past six months Duke seems to have started having some aggression towards the other dog. Even my parents dogs. We assumed it was protective behavior of my son. In the past few weeks Duke seems to have become "edgy" around my son. Instead of being calm and laid back around him he seems to be very tense. Now to the incident. The night before last Duke was laying on the floor near my feet (not asleep) and my son was playing next to him. My son reached over and layed his head on Duke's back end to give him a hug. In a split second Duke without growling a warning went after my son and basically put his whole head in his mouth. No major injuries but his eye is a little black and blue and there was a scratch on the top of his head. The scary thing is if it was a smidge to the left my son probably would have had a pretty serious eye injury.

I'm a big believer that dogs don't normally act out like that for no reason and it's normally human error. Also I think children should always be supervised around dogs and taught to be gentle. But now I'm faced with a dilemma. Should I assume Duke bit my son because maybe my son had pinched or hurt him in some way that I didn't observe? Then, how would I feel if I let it slide and it happened again with a much more serious injury? Need some advice. I haven't told my husband yet because if I do the dog would be euthanized for sure and I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Any advice would be greatly appreciated...
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Old 11-17-2007, 10:07 AM
Location: California
3,432 posts, read 1,719,534 times
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Your son probably hurt him, I know plenty of dogs who get pissed when you step on their feet or tail.
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Old 11-17-2007, 10:25 AM
Location: Marion, IN
8,192 posts, read 25,674,507 times
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Personality changes like the one you have described are often the result of an underlying medical condition. Has the dog been to the vet since he began to be less "laid back"? That is the first step I would take.
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Old 11-17-2007, 10:34 AM
43 posts, read 139,547 times
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Originally Posted by Evey View Post
Personality changes like the one you have described are often the result of an underlying medical condition. Has the dog been to the vet since he began to be less "laid back"? That is the first step I would take.
That's great advice. No he hasn't. It wouldn't hurt to get him checked out and make sure he doesn't have something else going on with him. If he's fine then at least maybe the vet could give us some advice on the problem.
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Old 11-17-2007, 03:17 PM
1,257 posts, read 3,666,151 times
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I would keep your dog separated from your son all the time until you figure out what to do. I would stop feeding your dog. All food and treats have to be given to the dog through your son. When dog is sitting somewhere that your son normally sits, ask your dog to move and move your son into the position. Ask your son give the dog a treat if the dog moved willingly. As your son grows up, the dog may get insecure about his position in the family. Adult dog does give young puppy some room to be playful. When the puppy reaches certain age, adult dog will act to punish improper behavior in your dog's mind. I learn this through reading books. No actual experience.
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Old 11-17-2007, 03:24 PM
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
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I'm going to beg to differ on the above poster - we've just had an "incident", to put it mildly...and putting a toddler in charge of food could be an invitation to an accidental disaster...dog gets overly excited and accidently bites child's hand, etc.

The parents are the ones who need to be the alphas in this group, for the child and the dog. Obviously the child has a more elevated position, but until the child is old enough to appreciate his actions and with a dog we're not sure about, I just wouldn't put my child in that position. Actually, I wouldn't put any child in charge of treats or food at all...there's just a margin of error there and this is just a toddler. Better to hold on that idea, in my opinion, until the child is around kindergarten age at least. But I just wouldn't take the chance with a dog that is, by the OP's admission, "edgy" at best.
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Old 11-17-2007, 05:35 PM
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Duke's behavior is changing as is your son's. A toddler is developing at lightening pace. He is bigger than he was when he showed up in your home, probably much louder, more physical, smells differently and eats different food. He is not the "baby" that Duke initially chose to protect. Of course, all of this is normal toddler development that delights his parents, but it may be very confusing to Duke. I'm not exactly sure how to help. I think you have received and will continue to receive good suggestions. I'm just taking a stab at explaining Duke's change of heart.
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Old 11-17-2007, 07:41 PM
389 posts, read 3,093,715 times
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If his behavior has been changing all around, I would never assume that this was a one time incident. It is hard to deal with these problems since your son is so young and isn't really in a position to assert himself to show the dog his place in the family pecking order, so you need to find a way to do it for him. I don't think that the dog needs to be euthanized instantly, but he definitely needs to be watched as does your sons every move, or maybe Duke needs to find a home where he can be himself again? I know none of the decisions that go along with a situation like yours are easy, but you need to evaluate what you are willing to do, and how far you a willing to go to fix the problem, you can't just ignore it and hope it never happens again. I would take Duke to the vet and make sure there's not an underlying medical problem, and if all's clear, I would find a behaviorist that can come to your home and work with Duke and your whole family to find a good balance again.

Good luck
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Old 11-17-2007, 07:50 PM
30,050 posts, read 15,731,562 times
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My knee-jerk reaction to the OP would result in my post being moderated/cut and a few hundred neg points and about a 100 posts outlining my inappropiate RE-action to the "situation".

The alpha male in me would have put Duke into a world of hurt and banished from the pack until I cooled down enough to allow my reasoning abilities to kick in. *Yes, I would be called an ~unfit~ owner, etc. and the moniker would probably fit. But any child is far above any family pet. (Bear in mind, my dogs are like my babies.)

Suffice to say, I also would never allow an 18 month old to crawl at will all over any dog, large or small, laid back or high-strung or cat for that matter. It just isn't done IMO. The kid could have lost an eye.

Second, I think you should tell your husband. Duke may be cruising for a bruising, but I think your husband would be much more upset if he ever found out you kept it from him.

Sorry for my buffoon-like response, but it is how I feel.
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Old 11-17-2007, 08:11 PM
Location: State College PA
402 posts, read 1,879,050 times
Reputation: 250
**separate them
**bring to vet ASAP for work-up
**consult behaviorist, if possible
**if not able (financially, emotionally, or time) to help dog, place in different location (a liability in itself), or euthanize.

Ask yourself - if he had damaged your son's face ~and he was one step away~ could you ever forgive yourself? Don't let your son become a statistic.
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