My Dog Bit My Child

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day when I came across something very disturbing to me. There was a photo of a young boy. For privacy, I will refer to the characters in this story as Buddy and Matthew. Matthew was being held in his mother’s arms and had several stitches across his chin and lip with the caption, “I can’t believe this happened…”.

Naturally, the following comments entailed remarks such as:

What happened?!
OMG? Is he ok?!
Text me, I’m here for you…

Then there was the reply that everyone was anticipating, ”Buddy bit Matthew”.

I was scrolling through the comments and most of them were replies with concerns of the boy’s health and one that stood out to me, “May I ask, how did this happen with Buddy?”. I did not expect a reply but shortly thereafter the mom said, “Oh you know, Matthew was up in Buddy’s face barking and growling at him”.

My heart sunk. I was irritated, disappointed, annoyed, sad, frustrated. So many emotions ran through my head. I had to hold myself back when thinking about commenting. Because what would I say? How would I not come across as a total B!?

Soon after the initial Facebook post, the mom followed up with the post that brought tears to my eyes, “RIP Buddy, our hearts are heavy we will always love and miss u and never imagined anything like this happening”.

Buddy was a family dog of seven years who bit Matthew after being provoked. As mentioned above, I will not go into details about the family nor the dog. Many of you are probably wondering – was he a pit bull? And no, he was not.

Looking back, I believe this situation could have been prevented. I realize, “Matthew probably always played with Buddy like this and nothing had ever happened before”. But I believe that it is a parents responsibility to teach their kids to respect animals and not to taunt or tease them. Even though a dog may tolerate the treatment, does not mean that they enjoy it and does not ensure that they will continue to tolerate it.

How Kids SHOULD Interact With Dogs - Lola The Pitty 'My Dog Bit My Child' - poster via Dr. Sophia Yin

Poster via: Dr. Sophia Yin

This issue is a very sensitive subject with us and Lola. When Lola was very young we brought her over to an extended family member’s house. There were several little children there who immediately ran up to Lola reaching for her face and then started tugging on her tail and ears. We politely asked them not to do that and they stopped for a moment and then when the next opportunity came along, they were right back at it. Lola was literally clawing at my leg for me to pick her up. At this point it was becoming irritating that the parents were not doing a whole lot besides at best, “oh, stop that please…”. I then just held Lola in my lap and we soon removed ourselves from the situation. Looking back on the scenario, I would have done things differently…(isn’t that always the case?).

Currently, we are still working on rehabilitating Lola’s fear of toddlers and small children. It certainly left a lasting impression on her.

How Kids SHOULD NOT Interact With Dogs - Lola The Pitty 'My Dog Bit My Child' - poster via Dr. Sophia Yin

Poster via Dr. Sophia Yin

These posters from Sophia Yin are a great illustration of how dogs and children should interact. (You can even print a large poster-size version from her site.)

Poster Via Dr. Sophia Yin

Poster Via Dr. Sophia Yin

There are plenty of resources out there – use them, share them. Even if an adult notices the signs, a child may not. That’s how accidents happen. Even if your dog and child have been raised together, it only takes once. PLEASE, teach your children respect and how to properly treat a dog. Even though your dog may tolerate it, every dog has a breaking point.

Very important - teaching children to respect animals at a young age. Via LolaThePitty.com

Related articles:

Kids and Dogs: How Kids Should and Should Not Interact with Dogs – Dr. Sophia Yin

Didn’t see that bite coming? Look a little harder. – DogTime

Preventing Dog Bites – Dr. Sophia Yin
Travel With Your Dog with Kurgo Adventure Products!

*Follow Lola the Pitty on Bloglovin’ (an easy way to follow your favorite blogs)*

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Oh, how sad. So sorry to hear about the incident with “Matthew” and “Buddy.” Heartbreaking. This post is so important. I think it’s just that parents really don’t understand the signs a dog is giving about being stressed. It’s so unfair to the dogs (and the kids). I will share your post because I know it will help make a difference for someone.

    I fostered an American Eskimo dog who would bite kids, and even when I asked kids not to touch him they still would. So frustrating, and as you said in the post sometimes you just have to remove yourself and your dog from the situation.
    Lindsay recently posted…10 ways shelters are promoting cat adoptions

    • 2

      Sarah says

      Hi Lindsay, I think you’re right and the dogs and children are the ones who pay the price. Thanks for sharing, I truly think that education and awareness may help prevent future dog bites. Thanks for stopping by :).

      • 3

        says

        I had an issue with a dog once, he was through obedience and passed with flying colors, was great around our kids and everyone really then at about 6 mo. old he snapped, not sure what changed but I did get ahold of his breeder and another of his littermates family and found that his brother had the same issue, so I believe it was breeding. Now having said that, the trainer we took him to and many others I have worked with said that you SHOULD be able to get near their food, put your hand in etc. you SHOULD be able to take any bone or toy away without incident. So I believe those are wrong. I wouldn’t even want anything to happen to a child and while they too should know “doggy rules” the dogs should know also that humans, big or little come first and they should give up anything they have for a human…even if it’s a little one.

        • 4

          Sarah says

          Hi Michelle,
          I totally agree – you SHOULD be able to take a dog’s toy/bone/food whenever you want. However, I would not encourage a child to ‘test’ it – that is up to the parent, along with teaching the child to respect animals. I think that is what the posters are encouraging. We constantly take our dogs antlers and food in the middle of chewing/eating. Thanks for commenting! I hope everything is working out w/ your pup.

    • 5

      says

      Lindsay, I feel your pain. I have a toy (size, she’s a real dog) Eskie and people are constantly trying to touch her. I get that she’s cute and she’s small, but she still doesn’t like to be touched by people she doesn’t know and has no qualms about telling you so (I recognize that I’m super lucky she just barks and heads for the nearest human she trusts instead of biting.) Have you had any luck getting people to respond to a yellow ribbon? I’ve still had to explain what it means to most people, but I keep hoping it will catch on sufficiently to help people with dogs that need some space among strangers.

    • 6

      orfan says

      I love when perfect strangers believe they know my dog better than I do. I’ve literally had to hold my dog’s mouth shut while maneuvering in between my dog and the approaching person, all the while staying whatever I can: “She’s scared/a rescue/afraid/she doesn’t like men/kids/people/…” and so on. Some people keep approaching. I had one man ask me how she was ever going to get more comfortable with men if he couldn’t just walk up and pet her?

      I’ve tried the yellow ribbon but so far haven’t met many people who are aware and respectful of it.

      This comment always makes me laugh: ‘“Matthew probably always played with Buddy like this and nothing had ever happened before”.’ My sister said the same thing about a plastic water bottle that was hand-wash only that had been dish washed too often and broke in two: “It never did that before.” Well no, I explained, if it had broken before, how would it have broken again now? (She’s an adult.) Just like plastic, dogs are subject to repeated stresses and have a “breaking” point, even if they’ve never gotten there before.

      • 7

        Sarah says

        Hi Orfan,
        We have to work on creating better awareness of the yellow ribbon project! That’s my next goal :). Thanks for commenting.

        • 8

          Iðunn Ýr says

          Hi Sara, I just wanted to say I started trying to create awareness of the yellow ribbon project in my country. It should be world wide project! Sadly. I am not sure it will work. My sister have a dog, that should have a yellow ribbon. She is scared of people she don’t know. Me and my sister are the only ones she trusts. I will keep on trying to wake awareness :) Good luck.

        • 9

          says

          The Yellow ribbon is for military soldiers. A least it is here in Florida. Maybe you could try a different color and repost dog awareness. I am sure that it would take off.

          • 10

            Leah says

            Barbara, it’s not a ribbon for awareness like you put on your car, it’s just a yellow colored string or ribbon to tie onto your dog’s leash. The reason it is yellow is because yellow is a common multicultural color meaning ‘caution’.

      • 11

        Sabrina says

        Yes, I also believe that the yellow ribbon is a great idea. And, yes, dogs have a breaking point just like people do. Some people think that they will never yell at thier children…until they do :( I wonder if posting a sign in dog parks as well as dog friendly communities and parks, the meaning of a yellow ribbon…Maybe the word will spread and people will catch on…?
        Just an idea…

    • 12

      doglover says

      Our usual way of dealing with little kids in the family and our furry dogs is to lock them away. (the dogs, not the kids :) ) But it occurs to me it would be a good time to have a supervised learning sesson for a few minutes to help the dogs socialize and the children learn how to make friends with a dog and not hurt it. You can’t overload the dog, but a little at a time would be helpful to both.

    • 13

      doglover says

      And always remember, as one trainer said to me, my elderly dog deserves his retirement. He doesn’t need to be around chaos. He wants to go sit on his rug on a back room and take a nap. He now can’t see well so he has been “socialized” enough. Remember elderly dogs like a lot rest and peach and quiet.

    • 14

      T Clay says

      Everyone here is right…I find that people with kids that don’t have pets at home have no idea how to approach..interact with animals. I’ve gone so far as to say in a very stern voice..please don’t touch my dog…I even had one mother tell me I was being rude to her child…I said too bad..I protect my pups like you protect your kids…I would never approach your child and just start touching..pulling their hair..unfortunately the mother didn’t get it…she thought I was crazy…my kids grew up with animals in the house and were taught from a very young age to respect them…I never had any issues with my kids and animals…your right it’s educating them from an early age…

      • 15

        CdnMammabear says

        I’ve never heard about the yellow ribbon thing–I’ll have to watch for it. My first child and our Mini Schnauzer were babies together and grew up as best buddies. It helped that he learned about small children as a puppy so he knows what to expect. I started teaching both my girls to be gentle and loving with him when they were babies. Once they could walk, I was hyper-vigilant about making sure they didn’t run up to strange dogs we encountered. I made sure they knew to ask the owner’s permission to pet their dog while WALKING up and to not move towards the dog until it was okay. Until they could speak clearly, I would make sure I gave my instructions loud enough for the owner to hear so they had warning and could answer my children (even if they couldn’t understand them). My girls both LOVE dogs and have a healthy respect for them. I do find it interesting that the posters say that dogs don’t like to be hugged. Our dog LOVES hugs. I think it’s more that they don’t like to be SQUEEZED.

    • 16

      Enkill Eridos says

      I don’t really agree fully with this. Mainly because I teach all of my dogs the game of tug of war. Which is I teach all of my dogs, taking away their toys is a game unless I command them to stop. I have to show I am above them in the pack. They see my wife as the Alpha, so I have to keep reminding them who the beta is. Dogs are pack animals. No matter if you have other dogs or not, they see you as the Alpha if they do not you have failed as a dog owner, and at that point you don’t own the dog. In the dog’s mind he or she owns you. It also depends on the dog’s personality as well, they are very much like people. They have their own personalities, and they have feelings. These things are also a factor when they attack. Which sometimes they aren’t attacking the child, they are putting the child in their place. The best thing to do is teach the child how to act and how to put themselves above the dog in the pecking order. As a child I have owned many dogs. Some pit bulls, rottweilers, dobermans, and terrier breeds. I was taught how to make the dogs submit, thus placing myself above them in their minds. Knowing how canine psychology works, and how to use this. Is something every dog owner should know. It is also very useful to teach your kids from a young age the differences between canine social structure, and human social structure. You also have to watch for other actions dogs do to children. When dogs sit on a child’s face, that is a sign of dominance. Anything a dog does to show a sign of dominance to a child, especially the non-aggressive signs. All dog owners should know this as well. You should watch your dog very carefully and see if they are using these signs of dominance. Because when they do, and a child does something they do not like. It is a reason why they snap at them, because they feel they are dominate over the child.

    • 18

      Sarah says

      Thanks so much. I believe that some people truly don’t know any better and it results in unfortunate situations. By sharing these I think if we at least catch a few the attention of a few people, I feel accomplished.

  2. 19

    says

    Thanks for sharing this sad (and unfortunately common) story, and for the great Sophia Yin posters. Our vet has many of them in her office, and I think they’re such great, straightforward PSAs. Our older dog is very fearful of small children, and it’s something we work on all the time, even though we don’t have kids yet. It’s a hard thing to manage, especially with other people’s children, but I’m willing to get bossy with them to prevent a bad interaction between a child and my dog. I often have to be rude to kids and turn around when they come running toward us. Better than an incident that provokes Pyr and further reinforces her fear of kids. Sigh.
    Abby (Doggerel) recently posted…Eden at school: Week two

    • 20

      Sarah says

      Hi Abby,
      That’s great that your vet displays these in her office! And yes, looking back I should have been much more assertive with the kids who were ‘playing’ with Lola, because it literally left a lasting impression (and horrible first impression) on her and now it’s 100x harder to gain her trust back. Thanks for stopping by!

      • 21

        Anna Stealy says

        Children naturally love and want to interact with animals. Yet they are unintentionally rough and not aware of the discomfort they may be causing. We as pet owners need to be aware that children are NOT little demons, they are just unlearned people with lots of potential as future animal lovers. Sadly, some parents don’t speak “dog” either, and they don’t teach their children how to be gentle, because they don’t realize how a pulled tail might hurt and how those down ears don’t mean: “I’m cute!” but instead, “I’m terrified!”

        At this point we need to play a huge role. We need to help teach the children AND the parents AND our dog that we are all friends. Put yourself between the dog and the kids. Try to do this even before they make first contact. Teach them to let the dog smell their hand. If you know you are going to a relatives home or a park or anywhere where children may interact with your dog, take along some special doggie treats to give to the kids. Let them feed your dog and tell them how to pet your dog. I tell stranger kids that my dog likes treats and likes to smell hands, but doesn’t like to be touched. When I pull out the treats, the kids are happy they get to interact with the dog, and my dogs LOVE all kids! Children mean reward for my toy breeds, not terror.

        How often did you let Lola play with children and toddlers after her unpleasant event? Your “protection” of her may of amplified her fear and anxiety. Dogs are very sensitive to the feelings of their owners, and if you are irritated at kids, they will be too- and will NEVER give them a chance. I think we can all learn a lot from each other’s experiences.

        And how sad about Buddy :( That case is different from what I’m talking about above, him being a family pet that just wasn’t respected. Poor dog, and poor kid. I love the posters and the messages they teach!

        • 22

          Sarah says

          Hi Anna,
          Thank you for the thoughtful comment. You made some great points and I believe it is true that some parents truly don’t understand the signs that a dog is not comfortable either.
          We have been working with Lola and doing the things like you mentioned. Many kids are very good and do ask permission to pet your dog. Lola is fine if she is running around at the park and there are kids around but if they try to come up to her, she barks. This is where we try to get involved and reward her when kids are around.
          Hopefully this post will be seen by many eyes and make a difference ;).
          Thanks for commenting.

        • 23

          Maria says

          No, children don’t ‘naturally’ love animals. They naturally want to play with it as a THING. They don’t treat it with empathy because they often don’t have it developed yet (or at all). Cases, were a child CAN behave around the dog since childhood are rare and demand a high level of emotional intelligence. Most children develop emotional intelligence quite late if ever (see bullies at school). Children know only their own perspective and don’t grasp the idea of somebody else being capable of suffering (children are often very surprised when their parents react to pain because they relize suddenly that mommy or daddy feels pain, too. They don’t know it. Children are all about ego (the psychological one) and need to be taught about empathy and understanding that others (animals as well) feel pain, feel bad or feel hurt.

          • 24

            Deb Vozniak says

            Maria, you are wrong. Just because some children (like some adults) are incapable of empathy does not mean all children are incapable. Cases where children can behave around dogs are not “rare” they are very frequent. Screaming brats are screaming brats and they are no different toward dogs than people. However, not all children are screaming brats, so don’t blame all children for a few. As for children not understanding that others can feel pain, using the example of bullies as “most children” is a vastly inaccurate and completely unfair generalization. Most children are not bullies at school. Most children are not cruel to animals. Most children are not sociopaths. Most children understand that others feel pain just as they do, and that this includes animals.

          • 25

            Cassie says

            I’m going to have to agree with Deb on this one. Yes, some children are only looking to interact with dogs as a “plaything,” especially ones that have never had a family dog before, but many just want to express affection and are not aware that a dog might be scared or irritated by their actions or their presence.

            I have always been an animal lover and wanted my parents to adopt a dog after our cat died when I was 4. I remember a few years before we ended up actually getting our family dog, I was at my godmother’s house. She always had tons of rescue animals, and I loved to interact with them and pet them and sometimes play with them. Never roughhousing or pulling on them or anything, I was a pretty meek kid. But one time, I was saying goodbye to her German Shepherd, Blue, and gave him a big hug around the neck and he growled at me. That memory stuck in my brain forever, and I never touched a dog I wasn’t intimately familiar with ever in that way again. Children just need to learn what is proper behavior around animals–a dog taught me what wasn’t OK, but really, it should be a parent who steps in and says something!

          • 26

            Sarah says

            Hi Cassie,
            You’re absolutely right – it is ultimately the parent’s responsibility. I’m glad that your incident was just a growl. I grew up w/ a dog who turned into a grumpy old man and he would always growl but we respected his space and were taught to treat him with care and be gentle. Thanks for commenting!

    • 27

      Sabrina says

      A lot of people refer to their dogs as their “fur- kids” or “fur babies”…If you wouldnt let another
      child beat up on your human baby, than why is it right to let a child beat up on your “fur baby”?
      Thats the way I put it to people, including children, and for the most part they get it :)

      • 28

        Sarah says

        Hi Sabrina, I am totally one of those people! Because it’s true…they are my fur-babies and I will stick up for them as I would a child of my own! Thanks for commenting :)

    • 31

      Sarah says

      Thanks so much, Oz. Yes, it was very sad and could have been prevented, that is the difficult part for me :(. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. 38

    says

    It’s always the dog that pays the price. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen FB posts like this one or photos of kids doing things to dogs that are “so cute” NOT. If only people would teach their children… oops, that means that the parents understand and “know better” and so often they don’t. I was bitten by our family dog as a child (and have the scar to prove it.) It was my own fault and I certainly knew better. So, I certainly understand that things happen. In my case, my mom took me in hand and it never happened again.
    Sue at Talking Dogs recently posted…National Weatherman Day | Wordless Wednesday

    • 39

      Sarah says

      Hi Sue, it’s so sad to see. And what really angered me was the comment by the mother – stating that her son was “up in the dog’s face provoking him”. Especially being a (somewhat) older dog, it’s really no surprise. We had a Sheltie growing up and he was such a crabby old man, but we knew not to bother him and only pet him very nicely, otherwise he would bite. I guess the best thing we can do is share posters such as these and *hope* that it hits home for some parents :). Thanks for stopping by, Sue.

      • 40

        Jessica says

        Well, putting the dog down might have been beyond the mom’s control. My hubby got bit by the family dog as a teenager (dog was anxious about thunder at the time anyway, and hubby accidentally pushed him a little off-balance while moving to comfort him; dog moved to bark at hubby and didn’t realize his face was so close so hubby got a tooth in the cheek) and went to the hospital to get stitches. Though they didn’t say it was a dog bite, the injury pattern was similar enough that they had to talk the staff out of reporting their dog to the authorities, anyway, and they were told under no uncertain terms that if they ever came in with a bite again that their dog would be reported as dangerous to the authorities and put down. With an obvious dog bite and a young child involved, Buddy’s fate was probably out of your friend’s hands after that.

    • 43

      Sarah says

      I agree, Marie. Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully many people will see this post and others, as all we can do is try to bring awareness to the subject. Take care!

  4. 44

    says

    This is a really great post, I hope you don’t mind if I share it on Facebook & twitter.
    The story breaks my heart as it was NOT that poor dog’s fault. People can be really blind when it comes to pets and kids, and these sorts of accidents happen too often. My pet peeve is ‘cute’ pics and youtube videos of toddlers climbing all over dogs.
    Thanks for the post and I hope it prevents some matthew/buddy incidents in the future x
    Joanna recently posted…The human-animal bond

    • 45

      Sarah says

      Hi Joanna,
      Thank you – please share! The more people that see this post, the better. I think so many accidents can be prevented with a little awareness. Thanks for commenting.

  5. 46

    says

    It is so sad that incidents like this happen every day and could almost always have been prevented. My 2 year old grandson lives with us now, and everyone has their own space. Gates separate them and any interaction is monitored by an adult.
    Do I think my dogs would hurt him? Well, I really hope not but I am not willing to risk my grandson’s health and the life of my dogs on it. I just wish more parents/owners would take the responsibility more seriously for the children and the dogs sake.
    Thanks for an insightful article and LOVE the posters!
    Stacey recently posted…Patti

    • 47

      Sarah says

      Hi Stacey, it’s really disappointing. I think you have a good attitude about it, because children can’t always recognize a dog’s warning signals and parents need to be supervising small children even if it is their family dog of many, many years. Thanks for commenting :)

  6. 48

    says

    This is a really important post. It’s interesting that the way people look at dogs makes common sense not so common. My friend’s dog, a Pomeranian, recently bit a child and took off her nose completely. When I asked about the incident, the toddler had thrown her body on top of the dog’s. There were so many mistakes made – the owner not advocating for the dog, leaving her friend’s children alone with the dog, etc. I think one of the most important things we can teach a child is to value a dog’s space. If children stay out of a dog’s space, even dogs they’re familiar with, I think bites could be decreased significantly. Thank you for this post.
    BoingyDog recently posted…My Dog’s Training Wishlist

    • 49

      Sarah says

      I agree completely. Too often these mistakes happen because someone is not paying attention. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. 50

    says

    Thanks for sharing this. Our family dog bit our boy 3 weeks ago. No stitches but he bit his mouth. We are in discussions with the vet about dog behaviors but putting him down would never ever be an option for us. He’s part of our family. It’s such an awful situation when this happens. The poor dogs always get the short end of the straw & it’s so sad :(
    Neets recently posted…Welcome To Random Tip Tuesday

    • 51

      Sarah says

      Thank you for the comment! It is always hard because they are truly part of our families. Thank you for taking action and looking for advice with your pup. Wishing you the best of luck with your dog and child.

    • 52

      orfan says

      If it’s a first bite and didn’t break the skin, you probably don’t have a lot to worry about. From a dog’s point of view, all “bites” (even if it’s just a tooth on skin) are provoked. Your dog had proven that, like all dogs, he has limits, so now you know what to avoid/interrupt/manage in the future. Your dog has also proven that he has very good bite inhibition.

  8. 53

    Katie says

    Hi, sad story to read but in a way it brings these things to the forefront!
    Owning two pitbull x , one small one big, I was very worried when my daughter was born, however she is now three has a great respect for both of them, and they listen to her more than me now, I guess that is something that both me and her dad have taught her, the dogs both panic when they can’t see her and when she goes in the pool my boy will sit and watch and move to wherever she moves to, amazing to see, and I hate it that certain breeds get labelled, bad parenting whether with children and or dogs can create monsters!

    • 54

      Sarah says

      Hi Katie,
      yes, it’s too bad that it had to end that way for the dog. But you are right, hopefully this will make many more parents aware and come to realization.
      That’s great about your daughter! Sounds like she has two best friends ;). Thanks for stopping by.

  9. 57

    Tara C says

    I rent a room from a family with a 2 year old human, a 4 year old human, an 11 year old shepherd and 9 year old Pitt. Those dogs would never bite those kids. Maybe an intruder or a freak incident on a stranger. But I think the dogs believe that the kids are their family.

    • 58

      Roo says

      And that is *exactly* the attitude that leads to bites.

      *EVERY* dog has the potential to bite, and there exists a set of circumstances that will be the magic recipe to provoke a bite from even the most saintly of dogs (unnoticed ear infection, plus achy joints, plus stress from construction noises across the street, plus surprise when toddler trips and falls on dog. Or whatever. Google “trigger stacking”.)

      It is unfair and extremely unwise to all concerned to assume a dog “would never bite those kids.”

      • 59

        Sarah says

        Hi Roo,
        Exactly – one can never assume that “because a dog has always tolerated this, he always will…”. Thanks for commenting.

  10. 60

    Marie says

    This happened to me and my service dog. a friend of the familys 7 year old went into the livingroom (I was not home at the time) where my dog was asleep, nobody was in there, the mother and my sister were in the kitchen and after a few minutes there was a shriek and my service dog, who has been around hundreds of children, traveled at my side in planes all over the world, had never so much as raised a lip in his life had bitten the little girl on her finger, raised a little blister and my sister instantly labeled him as “vicious” when he and I were mauled two months later by a nighbors dog that was outside with no collar or leash on with him she told me when I was sobbing in the emergency vets office, bleeding myself but too terrified for my badly hurt dog to seek medical attention for myself until I knew he was ok, she said “Dont ask for that dog to be put down, if that Pit should be put down for attacking you and your dog then your dog should be put down for attacking that girl.” Shes a HUGE Pit Bull advocate, and went hyper-protective of the pitbull that mauled me, insisting I not report what happened etc.

  11. 61

    Nicole says

    This is so well written and I am so sad to hear about how it ended for Buddy. When my niece was young my sister had a pit bull named Sable and she lived up to the nickname nanny dog. Well one day my niece bit sable when she was about 6 months old and sable nipped her like she would a puppy. Unfortunately it left a mark on my nieces face but we never blamed Sable, my niece bit her. From then on we were much more careful when the 2 were together. Several years later I was running late and trying to get my dog in the house while a neighbor dog was visiting, I stupidly threw bones on the ground. Frustrated I went to pick up my dog, his head flung back and our heads collided, his teeth catching on my cheek. The rest of the day was spent in the er. The first thing my dad said when he walked in was “that dogs dead.” I begged my dad to let him live because in fact it was my fault, I put Rascal in that situation. I am happy to say Rascal is now 12 and living a very happy life. But in both of these situations it was never the dogs fault, but our fault for putting the dog in the situation. Very very well written article.

    • 62

      Sarah says

      Hi Nicole,
      Thank you for the kind comment. I am so glad to hear that Rascal is still around and that the accident was forgiven. Too often, the dog is blamed and the true problem is never addressed. :)

  12. 63

    SMB says

    I find it challenging when parents do not ask their children to behave and respect dogs space and needs. I have always just removed my dogs from the situation or prevented it altogether. This is a great post. I have shared it. Keep up the good work.

  13. 64

    Chris says

    As an owner, it’s my responsibility to keep my dogs from ending up in a situation where they feel biting is their only option. That goes for the dog park, or meeting strangers on walks, or keeping a close eye on my dog’s body language with company. My female Mini Schnauzer is about as “bulletproof” with kids as any dog I’ve known, but I still won’t let kids pull her ears or put their faces down by hers. My male is more excitable and I watch him for the line between “this is fun, I’m enjoying this” and “this is too much, get me out of here”. It’s my job to see the difference.

  14. 65

    Annika says

    So very, very true.
    While studying abroad, my sister ended up adopting a Jack Russel who had been abused by its former owner.
    The dog was very timid around people, often cowering, “begging” and generally trying to please them – and he was afraid of small children.
    Their uncoordinated and unpredictable movements triggered a fear response in him, and he would sometimes respond by growling or snapping in the air near them if he was cornered and unable to avoid a confrontation.
    My sister, being a responsible owner, NEVER left him unsupervised with children, or outside a shop or similar. She was constantly troubled by parents who just stood by and let their toddlers and small children run over and basically assault her poor dog, because he was so small and “cute” and couldn’t possibly be anything but harmless… If not for her being such a responsible owner, it is quite likely that one of those children WOULD have been harmed, and the parents would no doubt have blamed the dog entirely.

    My son (and my nieses, of course) grew up around him, and before they were 1 they knew to approach dogs slowly and respectfully, letting them sniff them, not going for the head and not crowding them.
    By the time they could(/can) speak, they know they should never approach a dog without asking the owners permission, then following the same procedure as above; none of them would ever throw themselves at a strange dog, try to hug it or mess with its ears or tail, for example.

  15. 66

    Aubrey says

    The timing of this is just perfect, I’m reading this just moments after a teaching moment with my son. I’m so sad to hear about both “Matthew” and “Buddy”. I have a two year old little boy who we are teaching to respect our dogs as well as others. Our Prague Ratter adores our son and would tolerate just about anything but we don’t allow mistreatment in any form by anyone even by our son who doesn’t know better yet, not only is our dog a creature with feeling he is an animal who can’t speak for himself and could resort to using his teeth to get his point across if pushed to that point. Our Beagle is less tolerant so we are working hard to prevent a problem.

    The thing is, not only dogs need training. Kids as well as some adults need it just as much if not more the the dogs do.

  16. 67

    Nicky says

    The woman should be banned from owning any animals and in fact sterilised as she clearly has no common sense and therefore shouldn’t been allowed to have an influence on how humans or animals are raised!

    • 68

      Sarah says

      I agree, because she obviously saw how the kid was interacting with the dog to make those comments about how it happened…ugh!!

  17. 69

    Andrea says

    aw :( What a sad ending for both, child and dog. We have a Pomeranian/Chi mix and he used to be super scared of children. Once he even took a detour around a parking car to avoid being too close to a child walking up to us.
    It kind of freaks me out how almost every dog owner has their own “horror” story with kids envolved. We once took Hamlet along to the ice cream parlour. It was a nice and sunny day and we sat down to enjoy our ice cream. After a couple of minutes a young girl appeared next to my chair and started staring at my dog. I asked her to give him a little more space since she was really close by now, and not to touch him. She backed away but when I looked away, she started touching his face – of all dog parts. I asked her repeatedly to stop, her parents just ignored it and at one point I held her hand back and said “Leave him alone. Now.” She whined and went back to her mother who gave me an annoyed look. SERIOUSLY? Would you rather I’d let my dog bite her? Love the charts! Will share :)

  18. 70

    Lola says

    Totally agree with this article. I was always taught to respect our dogs and always reminded that a dog has a set of teeth just like a wolf!

    Sadly when I was 5, our two dogs were on my fathers bed with him and I got bitten in the face by one. I had a new book that I wanted to read to my father and climbed up on the bed to read it to him. I was about to sit down and one of the dogs launched at my face from the opposite side of the bed. Luckily my father caught him before any permanent damage was done.

    The dog was put to sleep immediately and the only explanation that I can think of was that he was protecting my father. My father says that he couldn’t have coped if he had rehomed the dog and it had done worse to another child but he still felt immense guilt for putting him down.

    I always respected our dogs space but something did happen. Dogs, like ourselves, have off days and don’t act like themselves. The problem is they can’t vocalise it in the same way that we would, meaning that signals can be missed.

    I will always have my dog wearing a cage muzzle when there are children around as many innocently just do not understand what their actions could cause. I can look for the signals and get them away from an uncomfortable situation but it can take only a split second for the worst to happen.

    I’m a dog lover and I understand the respect that we must have for the differences that our four legged friends have. Dogs CAN bite but are usually provoked.

  19. 71

    becca says

    We have been dealing with this recently. My two yeast old is far too aggressive with our cocker mix.no matter what we do to discourage the mean behavior it doesn’t stop. Beau nipped my son in the face a few da ago. It wasn’treallyhis fault but we cannot leave them alone together Beau is gouing to live with mayo parents now. I wish we didn’t have to reason with am an aggressive two year old. :( sorry for the typos, my phone is being stupid.

    • 72

      becca says

      that should say I wish we didn’t have to give him to my parents but is impossible to reason w an aggressive two year old.

  20. 74

    John Hawk says

    We got Shaggy, a 3 year old Goldendoodle, from a family who was ready to shoot him because he nipped at one of their children. In the 2 years we have had him he is a perfect gentleman around both adults and children. He is a therapy dog who goes to schools, nursing homes and libraries. Never an issue with him. Children need limits just as dogs do.

  21. 75

    bunnyrut says

    I do hope you shared this article with “Matthew’s” mom. the ignorance of people overwhelms me sometimes.
    we had a large black lab/newfoundland mix. she was very gentle and patient with children. but she had a bad ear. and as you can guess, a neighbor’s child went up to her and grabbed her ears. luckily all she did was bark and smack the child in the face with her mouth open. but it was enough to really scare the kid.
    we had to explain to the kid that they can’t do that, it hurts her. i couldn’t even imagine what would have happened if she actually bit the kid.

  22. 77

    Erin says

    Thanks for the spike in blood pressure.

    I advocate for my dogs and I dislike that people think I’m a horrid stick in the mud when I don’t want them/their dog/their kid interacting w/ my dogs.

    I do have 2 good ambassadors (of 4 dogs) that love other people and kids. I try as much as possible to teach people, esp kids to ask first before interacting.

  23. 79

    joanna S says

    im assuming that they put down the dog for biting the kid? I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have even considered rehoming the dog? This is so so so very sad! I have two dogs at home and one is fearful of little kids. He has growled at a couple before in our home and he really worries me because I am currently expecting. I would never let anything like this happen. It’s all about time and effort. People seem to think that pets will naturally accept a baby/kid and tolerate it but they need to remember that pets are animals and they can’t talk and tell us what is wrong.

    • 80

      Annika says

      As I posted previously, my sister had this same problem, and it went very well!
      The dog DID grow less fearful around children as they trained the child to behave around him from an early age, but they never forgot to respect the dogs boundaries either.
      They had a playpen in the living room – not for the child, but for the dog. :)
      Putting it up around the woodburning stove, it allowed him a peaceful place to rest his ageing bones, while the child could observe but not crowd the dog (or burn herself on the stove).

      One tip she often gives in such situations is to consider how you treat the dog before the child comes – is it your “baby”, allowed on furniture/in beds, treated like a favoured child?
      If so, start restructuring the “family pack” BEFORE the child arrives – if you suddenly change the rules the moment you come home with the baby (“NO, you’re NOT allowed on the sofa with the baby!”) the dog will often associate all these negative changes with the baby, and grow to dislike it because of this.
      Making it clear from the start that the dog is, by neccessity, at the bottom of the hierarchy, so that it doesn’t feel “de-throned” by the new arrival.

  24. 82

    Jennie says

    We have a 13 year old cockapoo and a 12 year old daughter who are best buds now but when they were both very young we got some great advise from a dog trainer. We established “safe zones” for the dog (we chose her crate and under an older child’s bed places she loved) and taught our daughter to never, under any curmstance go near her when Buddy was in her safe zone. Buddy always knew she had a safe place to hide and I think this helper her not feel cornered and scared enough to lash out. This isn’t a substitute for supervision but just another layer of safety. We never had a problem and I think Buddy’s “safe zone” helped a lot.

  25. 83

    Debbi says

    This has happened with my great dane. Apparently at a family barbeque, my 8 year old grandson was teasing my dog relentlessly. I did not see this, but after the second time he snapped at my grandson, I was discussing this with a friend who had witnessed the torment. She said the parent did nothing to stop the boy, and repeated requests from her were ignored. Now, I cannot have my dog around my grandson, even though he is perfectly behaved around all other kids. It breaks my heart, but I will not put my dog down when the parents did nothing to teach the child to respect animals.

    • 84

      Kandis says

      Send them a copy of these posters and a note saying ” This is why your son was bitten, you and he ignored polite behavior”

  26. 85

    sara says

    Your very moving post is being shared in the UK now – isn’t the internet great :)
    I just wanted to add this:
    When I was 5 I was bitten in the face my my grandfather’s dog. It was an old, working, sheepdog and just jealous/not used to children.
    I am beyond delighted, 50 years later, that the dog was not punished in any way, even though it was his ‘fault’. I don’t know how I would be able to live with myself if a dog had been killed because of me when the dog was clearly not ‘dangerous’ in any meaningful way.
    I wonder how the young lad in your story will feel as an adult when he thinks that his actions led to the death of his childhood friend?
    Just another aspect that I wish people would think about and which just further reinforces everything you have said

    • 86

      orfan says

      From a dog’s point of view, all “bites” (even if it’s just a tooth on skin) are provoked. I’m not trying to challenge your story, just to bring to light the fact that the terms we think about dog bites are problematic at best, and at worst, lead to dogs being blamed, demonized, rehomed, abused, and put down. The dog in question was “just jealous/not used to children”; yet it was his “‘fault’.” In my mind, the bite is either the fault of the person who didn’t socialize him to not be jealous and used to children, or the adult who allowed the dog to interact with a 5 year old for the possibly first time and expected it to go swimmingly.

  27. 88

    says

    The posters are great!
    Its sad that the dog had to lose it’s life, especially when the parent admitted the child had provoked him.
    When I was a child we had a golden lab who was very placid but, like most dogs, didn’t like her tail or ears being pulled. A neighbour’s child had come round one day and later my mum heard the dog yelp and the child start crying. She told my mum the dog had bitten her (although there were no marks) so mum took her home so she could speak to the child’s mother. Thankfully, the child’s mother had a dog so when the child started crying again, her mother asked her where she had been bitten. The child said it was her hand so her mum demanded to see it. The child hid her hand away so her mum took her hand and could see there were no bite marks. She then asked what she had done to the dog to make her yelp and eventually she admitted that she had been pulling the dog’s ears. The girl was told off for telling lies and sent to her room.
    Unfortunately, too many parents think their child is blameless these days and don’t teach them to respect animals so many similar stories could end so differently.
    I really hope these posters will take off – it could be a good resource for schools tool

  28. 89

    Cinder says

    Things have really changed over the years. When I was about 5 or 6 I grabbed a bone out of my dogs mouth. he promptly bit me in the face. My Dad comes running over yelling ” what in h*ll did you do to the dog?” I was the one in trouble – not the dog. It was my own fault.

    • 90

      Kristine says

      That’s what mom would do!! I Was always taught to respect animals. Mom would say if she bites you that means you did something and I would get in trouble. I have 5 kids and one grandson who 16 months. And they were all raised with dogs and cats and all taught to respect them!!! Never one of them have been bit!! Knock on wood! But my grandson is corrected asap!! So he knows!

  29. 91

    LolaMarigolda says

    In situations like this, I tend to not temper my inner Mega-B. I’d make sure that every rescue and shelter in the local area were aware that “the Smiths” were both parental failures with little “Matthew”, but that had also failed “Buddy” in one of the worst ways possible. If I heard of them looking at a certain breeder; I’d be all over it.

  30. 92

    says

    Very sad to hear. We get calls and emails about this often and in almost every case, it could have been avoided altogether. But not by never having children around a dog — that kind of avoidance doesn’t provide solutions to problems, it merely sidesteps the problem, like skipping a question on a test: you don’t learn anything by skipping it. The ideal approach to things like this is for the adults to show both kids and dogs how they are supposed to behave around each other, and to also address any misbehavior. A dog only behaves like this when it doesn’t see one of US taking control of the situation. I hope a lot of people read your blog and realize that there are solutions to most any behavior problem. Thanks for sharing this event.

  31. 93

    Megan says

    That was heartbreaking to read and I am sure it happens a lot sadly.
    I just felt I needed to add
    Last year my friend took her teenage son to the hospital to stitch his upper lip back together. When the doctor and nurse asked what had happened she stated that her son was harassing their large breed dog and the dog did what it felt it had to and bit the boy on his lip. The doctors asked if my friend had called animal control and her answer made me smile. She politely informed the hospital staff that her son was being punished and the dog was not because the dog hadn’t done anything wrong and her son needed to learn a lesson.

    As a child, I remember pulling on the tail of a friend’s dog and she nipped the corner of my eye (I still have a small scar) and I got punished for being mean to the dog, me, not the dog and that’s the way it should be.

    • 94

      Sarah says

      Hi Megan, I had to laugh because that’s how it should be. It’s almost like, “Well, you were asking for it”.

  32. 95

    orfan says

    Some of us still know this to be true, and others are relearning it. I don’t have kids, but I’ve raised one of my dogs from 16 weeks. He is a mix of two mouthy breeds (retriever and rescuer – mouth is a good thing), but I know that if he were to ever put teeth on anyone, including a child, with any more force than would be used in a bite hold (which he was trained to do), I’d immediately look to the person for the reason.

  33. 96

    Steve says

    We have dogs….who have lived together all of their lives, who have slept together, shared toys, played together……and fought! The fights have broken out in the blink of an eye. If you think your dog is safe around young children who can’t read the dogs body language, you are sorely mistaken. ALL dogs will bite and/or attack if they feel like they are put in a threatening position. Little children, as much as you may not agree, are not much more than small animals themselves. If you value your children and pets then you need to isolate or monitor ALL activity between them.

    I suggest reading the following article http://leerburg.com/dogfight.htm …..mostly the comment section to see how often that pet of years is sometimes just pushed too far.

  34. 97

    Raquel says

    I did this once…….I will never forgive my self for doing it. My rotweiler attacked a 6 year old boy….I panicked and put him to sleep the same day. Later I was thinking what really happend and I realized it was the child that behaved wrong and not my dog! The child has iceblue eyes and was actully staring the dog down without moving. The dog first run him ower and we just thought it was strange…..and then later the boy stod between me and my dog just stearing directly at him. The dog bit his arm and run him over very hard with a lot of noice and I paniked!! After a while I understod that first, if the dog wanted to hurt him it would be worse!!! And second, the boy wasnot behaving in a good “dog” way!! I wil always regret my choise but I can’t change it……

    • 98

      Sarah says

      Hi Raquel,
      Thanks for commenting. Sometimes we act out of impulse and make the wrong decision. Don’t beat yourself up for it – thanks for realizing what happened :).

  35. 99

    kathy says

    I bred this beautiful breed for over 20 yrs, I had to stop due to bad people!! My pits slept on my daughters bed some times at her insistence, but I trusted my daughter in that I trained her well to respect and understand them, no matter what animal we try and humanise, they always revert to their wild animal instincts, of course they snap, that’s the wild in them all, what makes me sick is how the media portrays them as human, and that’s not how G-D intends but to nurture, respect, love as an “animal” no more no less, u don’t train the dog, u “understand” the dog and train the child

    • 100

      kathy says

      Yep, me again, the weather here plays up, so does the net, a dog snaps at its young, a little yelp, but they don’t repeat. It again, for a child in a dogs eyes are like pups, who keep repeating and therefore they woud be (in their eyes) challenging their being an alpha bitch or male and the weaker loses, its out there, as South African, I know the order of things being brought up with many around me

  36. 101

    Lindy says

    We have always had golden retrievers or black labs. Whenever we are out and about with our pets (on leashes) and children approach, we coach them to always ask before reaching towards the dog. We have our dogs sit on command. We then have the child present their hand for sniffing and if approved by our dog, they may then pet them. Our female dog is not fully socialized with people. She is a fantastic pet and interacts with us well. We are very careful to not allow her to become overwhelmed by others. We remove her from situations that cause her discomfort after a very short session of exposure. When our kids visit this summer we will have a lot of coaching to do with them and our little girl. Thanks for sharing these tips – it is unfortunate that it was needed as a result of injury to human and canine.

    • 102

      Sarah says

      Hi Lindy, thanks for doing your part! I think this is so important. We also do the same when out with our dogs in public. Thanks for commenting.

    • 104

      Sarah says

      Hi Sarah, yes! I should put something together with the blue dog project and others such as the yellow ribbon to create wider awareness. Thanks for commenting!

  37. 105

    Sian says

    Hi, I am sharing this everywhere. Such a sad and upsettingly common story.

    If you don’t mind a more positive story, where a parent really has got it right to help cheer us up (and maybe serve as a good example) I would love to talk about my sister in law. She has two small children, and two dogs, both pitty’s. The boy is older, about 12 and the girl is only 2. Both kids are pre-school.

    So, the kids and dogs are never left unsupervised together. My SIL monitors their time together very closely. The older one loves cuddles, one of the few dogs I know who seems to get upset when he doesn’t get them. Even so, my SIL has taught both of her kids to wait for him to approach them for a cuddle, not the other way around. The younger dog doesn’t like cuddles. This has been useful with teaching the kids that what one dog likes, just like people, another dog won’t. So they know to approach dog’s carefully, ask first before attempting to pet or play with them. They do this every time.

    When the older child asked why, their mum explained that just like with a human, when a dog gets upset or doesn’t like something it could lash out if you keep doing this. She also explained that as well as one of them being hurt, the chances are the dog would be put down. That really upset the kids to hear, but her honesty has paid off. They love the dogs, they don’t want to see them get into trouble so they behave around them. They listen when their mum says they need to stop doing something because it is upsetting the dog/s. They are learning the signs, slowly, and when they are older will hopefully be able to monitor the situation and react accordingly themselves.

    Last time I was round, the youngest child sat me down to talk about the dogs. She wanted me to know that when the younger one goes and sits in the corner it means she wants to be left alone, and when the older one sits on your foot and licks your knee it means he wants a cuddle. She asked if I was nervous around dogs, because that makes the dogs nervous and she would have to ask me to stay in the living room and not come in the kitchen or garage as those are the dog’s places to be. It was so sweet, apparently she runs through this with all her playschool/nursery friends too.

    They all have such a good relationship, and I would be shocked to ever hear of either dog biting but none the less, the kids are never left alone with the dogs because their mum knows they are still young, still learning how to behave around them and thus not safe to be left alone together – just in case.

    • 106

      Sarah says

      Hi Sian,
      Thank you for the comment – and sharing your story, I loved it! A great message that many parents are aware and teaching how to properly interact with dogs.

  38. 108

    Beth says

    When I was 6 years old we lost a dog to this kind of injustice, not on my parents part though. The dog and I were playing tug-of-war using an old rag. I fell, and that caused him to lose his footing. One of his paws landed on my face. Had to have two stitches on my lip and four near my eye. The authorities got involved and put him in the pound. After a 10 day hold, they put him down, even thought there had been absolutely no signs of aggression or rabies or anything like that. They wouldn’t listen when we said it was an accident caused by me and that it wasn’t a bite.

  39. 110

    joann a. says

    hard to understand why the mother knew the child was in the dog’s face, harassing him, and allowed it. does she allow that child to bully other children too? i’m happy to report that around here parents of the children i come in contact with appear to be teaching them the right way to approach animals. i have a beagle/bassett (rescued) who adores children. where ever we are, when he sees children he makes a bee-line for them, smiling and wagging. and the children ALWAYS ask, ‘can i pet him?’ someone is doing their job!

    • 111

      Sarah says

      Hi Joann, I wonder the same thing. I’d assume that the boy “played with Buddy like that all the time”….but unfortunately, Buddy did not like it and the boy and mother did not notice the warning signs and Buddy paid the ultimate price from their actions or lack thereof. :(

  40. 112

    says

    Our 2 year old niece provoked a bite from my in-laws old family dog 30 years ago. My father-in-law took their dog up to his favorite place in the woods and shot him, dead. Instead of letting that be a positive learning lesson for our niece and all the other children in the family, the dog was killed. My father-in-law could have taught the proper way to be around the dog who was older and not used to small children anymore. I never thought the same way about the man or my mother-in-law for allowing that to happen. It still bothers me all these years later.

    • 113

      Sarah says

      Hi Lyn,
      Oh my gosh – that is terrible. Unfortunately, many people still think of the animal as, “just a dog”. It obviously made a lasting negative impression :(.

  41. 115

    Dale says

    I’ve loved dogs since I was a little kid, and my mum taught me from an early age to ask before stroking anyone’s dog, and if the dog was on its own outside a shop then don’t touch it. But nowadays I see so many parents who don’t teach their kids that. I witnessed a child who couldn’t have been more than 4 run up to a small terrier tied up outside a shop and scream right in its face. The poor little dog jumped and ran away, but I bet if it had bitten the kid it would have been classed as the dogs fault. And the parents did nothing. I hope that kid doesn’t do that to the wrong dog one day.

  42. 116

    says

    This article is both heart breaking and poignant. Strange that I feel I ought to write ‘Of course parents should teach their children respect for both their own dog and other peoples.’ Strange because it should go without saying, it is that obvious. The advice that small children and babies should never, under no circumstances,be left alone with even the most benign of dogs is of the utmost importance. This was highlighted this week here in the UK by the death by mauling of a six day old baby girl. The dog in question, a Malamute, was well known in the district for being ‘child friendly, well trained, and sweet of temperament,’ what caused the dog to act in this most dreadful manner will never be truly understood, though much speculation has been proffered, because there were no witnesses to the incident, the baby having been left alone with the dog.

  43. 118

    Janet says

    This above story is so sad. The advice is good, though. I read this because my dog bit my son last week and you know whose fault it was? Mine. Luckily the bite didn’t break his skin, but we all learned a lesson. Training has to be ongoing, and to tell the truth, I’ve been a little lax. So we’re going back over the dos and don’ts with the whole family. We all need to be reminded of our responsibilities to our pets and our families.

  44. 119

    Gina H says

    THANK YOU for this excellent blog!! These graphics should be mass produced and sent to ALL SCHOOLS!! I shared your graphics on my FB… with my own, personal editorial as follows… “Here’s the Cliff Notes version… it’s not usually the dogs fault. Parents, watch your kids when in a house with dogs… and for the love of all that is good and Holy, teach them to RESPECT dogs!! Pet parents, watch your dogs and ALL the kids! Remove the dog if the kids are brats and won’t listen the first 5 times you tell them to leave the dog the HELL alone!! It’s really for the DOGS protection… and your home owners insurance claims (my editorial comment!).”

  45. 120

    Colvin says

    Colvin Nurse
    11 hours ago
    This is soo SAD yet such a REALITY!! I grew up with having all sorts of Dog’s due to my Mum always volunteering at our local RSPCA centre! Her love and dedication too not just dogs but too all kinds off animals was simply inspiring. But what she loved doing the most was fostering dogs that would come into the Rescue center that had been rescued due to neglect, treated cruelly, or simply just left for dead inside a black bag in a coal bunker!!! It didn’t matter what breed the dog was, all what was important to her was to give those animals a second chance in life if possible and get the dog’s rehabilitated!! The point I’m making is from a young child I grew up with dogs around me, German shepherds, Collie’s, Lab’s, Rooties, Poodles, Staffies that had sometimes been beaten, neglected, and basically had their faith in humans completely shattered!! So you can imagine how anxious and nervous these dogs would of been, some would say the chances of me getting bitten as a child was higher than most. So did I get bitten?…..Yes I did, quite badly actually on my finger. But that was by our cockatiel Beauty! Not once did I get bitten by a dog that we owned! Why??? Cause my Mum took the time when I was a little Child to recognise when I should approach a dog and how! Above all ask if its ok to stroke the dog and too NEVER EVER tease or torment any ANIMAL full stop!!! As I got older my parent’s taught me more and more, which has led me to pass this Knowledge down to my Little boy. The truth is would the dog of been put down if I was bitten? absolutely NOT! It would of been my own fault. Obviously if I was bitten unprovoked then it would be a different story, however it would of depended on the severity of the bite.
    My little boy’s almost 4 now and has grown up with our spaniel, she’s the softest thing around but would I leave my little boy on his own with her?…..absolutely not!! Why?…Because I don’t trust him! Kids are more unpredictable than Dog’s. But he certainly knows what’s Right & Wrong when it comes to the Dog…..if you don’t even have a dog you should still teach your children how to treat dogs! So many parents don’t even think about it! For those of you who are gonna reply saying it depends on the breed, dog’s are vicious, it’s always the dog’s fault!!! I’m gonna say this……if you brought your child up to think it’s ok to snatch toy’s/food, poke & pinch, and torment other children/dog’s then they will probably get BITTEN!! At Nursery, Playgroup & School FIRST then by your Dog at HOME!! But having said all of that it’s just my opinion, which I’m entitled

  46. 121

    Alex says

    I love this article. I have a rescue beagle who is very nervous around children, and no matter how many times I tell children to ignore him, don’t pet him, etc. and when they don’t listen and try to pet him anyway I become a bad dog owner because he growls. I think it’s really important to be teaching children that you need to listen to the owner and learn dog body language. Thank you!

  47. 122

    Brett says

    I grew up on a farm, and always having large dogs. My earliest dog memory, however, was at the age 2-3 with a stray we recently acquired (unfortunately in the 70s, having a farm we were often ‘visited’ by strays that had been dumped in the country by their owners), he had been mistreated previously, and while generally a good dog, he had a lot of anxiety, and could respond aggressively.

    All this had been explained to me, but being so young, it really didn’t make an impression. I recall petting him on a hot summer day, and being told to leave him alone. That he was hot and uncomfortable, and would snap at me if I kept bothering him. To this day I remember my response…. “He likes me, he would never bite me!…” And then pinching him to emphasize my point…..

    Not surprisingly, the dog managed to bite me in the face. Okay, perhaps not a nice story, but was a sound lesson on understanding dogs (and pets) and learning to read their mood, stress, and interacting with them. I never gained a fear of dogs, and at no time did I (or my parents) blame the dog.

    Whenever I see a story about a child (or even adult) bitten by a dog, I often find myself thinking, what did they do to provoke it?

    I have been around wild animals, terrified animals, hungry animals, and injured or dying animals. I have never seen an animal bite a person except in self defence, or when given (from the animals perspective at least) no other option….

  48. 123

    Amber says

    I’m so dissapointed that “Buddy” was put down after this one incident. As someone who has fostered dogs from all walks of life and been at the receiving end of bites before, I know how hard it is to recover from an event like this. But i have always believed no dog should ever be destroyed for one bite. I know not everuone believes that, but it makes me so sad to see stories like this. This is a very sad story, indeed, for multiple reasons.

  49. 124

    Amanda says

    I REALLY wish I would have known more about how to identify a fearful/anxious dog and learn how to keep one around children. How to set up boundaries, create safe havens for the dog, etc.

    My husband and I had an American Eskimo/Shiba Inu mix that ended up snapping at our daughter when she was about 1 yr old. He never bit her but he came close and would snarl whenever she came near. Of course, she had no clue what that meant at 1 yr of age and me telling her not to touch the dog was something I didn’t think I could enforce. At least not without punishing the dog by locking him away. She couldn’t understand at that age. I thought I was being accommodating to both him and her by letting them interact and I just figured that he would simply get up and leave if he wanted to. He was able to travel around the house better than she could.

    I couldn’t figure out what to do after she wouldn’t stop hanging on him and he wouldn’t stop snapping, so I ended up taking him back to the previous owner. Thankfully they were able to take him back.

    Looking at those posters I now see that he was anxious almost 100% of the time. He constantly yawned and licked his lips, was hyper vigilant, brows furrowed, ears to the side. I just thought they were quirks that made him the way he was. I feel bad now that I didn’t know this and try to make things better for him somehow. He was like this for about 6 years, not just the year he and our daughter were together.

    I also used to think that he was an aggressive dog b/c of the way he would “attack” and bark at strangers, but again, looking at these posters I can see that he was just terrified.

    I wish dog owners had to go through dog training before they could get a dog. I certainly would have done it and maybe we’d still have a dog now.

  50. 125

    says

    Hello,

    This is an excellent article; I really do enjoy your posts! Eating my breakfast this brought tears to my eyes hearing that their decision was to put Buddy down. So very irresponsible of the parents and look how it’s left their child, physically and emotionally wounded!

    When I was 9 and my brother 6, my mom brought home a Staffy from a rescue centre. We weren’t allowed to be alone with her or even play with her for the first 6 months. Lucy had been used for Dog Fighting and although was clearly so grateful of her new family she was so very afraid that all might change. We were taught how to understand her language and how to behave accordingly. We also learnt how to teach our friends and show them how loving and fun Lucy was, but so she also felt respected and safe. I guess I’m very lucky to have had that upbringing and shared my home with a dog, the dog many had written off as aggressive and a waste of time. Lucy lived with us to a grand old age and would snuggle up with our cats. She wouldn’t need a lead, was soft mouthed in playtime and was brilliant at hide ‘n seek! It just goes to show how far a little understanding goes to remove fear and build bonds.

    At the end of it all, a dog is a dog and just because they are domesticated they are still unable to say, “Stop!” Until people take it upon themselves to learn how a dog communicates and by respecting their right to personal space, we are going to continue to see this dog-bites-child problem. I firmly believe all who are to own an animal should have to pass a test on communication, basic health and wellbeing. Those who don’t pass take a course, learn some obedience training and how to manage any emotional issues too. I feel this would support the animal and their family, saving money and pain in the long run!

    Thanks again for highlighting the issue, with your great images that I shall share on my blog too!

    Best regards,

    Memory Layne Pets

  51. 126

    Jackie says

    Great post! My sister’s dog bit my son – not badly but really any bite is a big issue. Totally my sons fault and we used it to share the lesson with my children. But it does drive home the fact you have to be present with young children and dogs. My boys are quite dog savvy now but back then my son was a preschooler. Thankfully no lasting issues to either him or the dog. But I’m careful to direct them with our dog when necessary so they can understand his cues. My dog is an older adoptee and amazingly patient and calm so he’s been good for sharing with others how to be around dogs. Even so – I never leave him alone with young children since they aren’t predictable.

  52. 127

    says

    Great article. Well written. I wish more people were aware that they are responsible for their children’s actions just as much as they are responsible for their dogs actions. I cringe whenever I see pictures of babies and dogs laying all over each other. It only takes a split second for it to go horribly wrong because a pet was placed in a situation they should never have been in the first place. It is hard to blame a dog for acting out when it has been threatened or hurt. Unprovoked aggression is a whole different ball game but very sad. At least you’ve made something positive out of it! Sharing knowledge is very powerful tool. Well done.

  53. 128

    Gayle Steen says

    I have a 7 yr old Lab, very placcid animal, but she has bad hips and often in pain. Last week a child came charging up to the dog and starting hitting her on the back. Several times l told the child not to hit the dog while the mother just laughed and walked away. Would she still be laughing if my dog turned after being provoked by her child?!!

  54. 129

    Christina says

    Such an interesting post with great visual aids to help people better understand the warning signs. I particularly like the poster of the two humans interacting and the same behaviour with human vs. canine.

    I wasn’t lucky enough to have a dog as a family pet until I was 12 years old and before that time, I was told not to stroke any dog unless I had permission from the owner, and even then, it was under supervision and in a controlled situation. I was in fact probably a little scared of going up to dogs at that time because my family always told me that I would get bitten if I didn’t behave properly.

    When we decided to get a dog, we wanted to go down the rescue route rather than buying a puppy. We went to a nice rescue centre and came home with a Beagle (the start of a long love affair for the breed!) called Sam. We got him home and within 2 hours, we were driving him back to the centre again. He had come in because his elderly owner had died and he was used to just living with one person. He had been suggested for our family despite of this (bearing in mind it was myself at 12, my sister at 17, my two parents and my grandmother in our house) and in hindsight, we and the staff at the centre were too eager to get a dog to realise that this might be overwhelming for the poor chap and perhaps he was not suited to us. We got him home and of course everyone wanted to meet him. We also then gave him a bowl of food. Foolishly (I still chastise her for this to this day!) my mum went to remove the bowl and he went to bite her. My sister (even more foolishly!) then attempted the same thing and of course, Sam had the same reaction. Neither of them had proper bites, just a little red mark, but that was it, we couldn’t possible keep this dog and they decided to shove him in the car and drive him straight back to the centre. Looking back on this, it really upsets me that we were all so naive about dog behaviour and finding the right family to match the dog. It really was not his fault that we acted this way and provoked him.

    We then had a short break to recoop and make sure we really were ready for a dog. We did some more research and spoke to one of my mum’s colleagues at work, who had 6 Beagles herself. After spending some time with them, taking them for walks etc., we knew we wanted to stick with Beagles & went along to a hunt kennels to meet a whole pack of them. There was one in particular, Traveller, who needed a home as she hadn’t made the grade. We took her home after a few more visits to get to know her and this time everything went a lot more smoothly. There was, of course, the usual ‘fighting’ over who gets to take the dog for her walk, but we soon settled into a routine and she was very happy with her new life. A year later we also took home her brother, Trojan, and he & I formed a bond that I will find very hard to replicate. Trojan had to be PTS due a couple of years ago (aged 14) and Traveller followed last May, a week off of her 16th birthday. Growing up with those two little hounds taught me an awful lot about how to interact with dogs and I will be forever grateful to them for forming my love of canines.

    Since then I have worked at boarding kennels and hunt kennels whilst not living at home. In my time of being around dogs, I have been bitten twice, with small scars to prove it, but both times I will fully admit that it was my fault – the first was when trying to shift an old Beagle who was quite happy on HIS bed in HIS car boot and the second was trying to free a Beagle who had caught her toenail in a door and needed to be freed so she was very stressed. I would certainly never blame the dogs involved for their actions – it was my fault I got bitten!

    I have recently rehomed a rescue collie from the Dogs Trust in Newbury. She’s approx. 9 years old and very laid back, but in our 11 weeks together, I have been very careful about making sure she feels comfortable around all the new people who are dying to meet her. She has taken it all in her stride but we have strict rules in our household for guests about how to behave around her. Everyone thinks that I’m bonkers for making all of these rules but I then explain that it’s mutually beneficial and I would side with the dog rather than the human if someone got bitten due to not following the rules! We also have no children but we do know adults who do not know about dog behaviour and I have made it my mission to teach them and make sure they enjoy dogs without overstepping the mark. It’s amazing how many adults are unaware of the warning signs and therefore they are ill-equiped to pass on the message to the next generation.

    I shall be re-posting this blog on my Facebook in the hope that it will save at least one dog’s life with your powerful message. Well done!

  55. 130

    Mum says

    What about the 1 week old baby who recently was killed by a family pet – can’t imagine a baby that age would taunt a dog!!! In other word – you can’t blame the child in this case. The dog should not have been in the house let alone the same room as the baby!

    When I lived at home we had a family dog – a Labrador. He was never allowed in the house as he had his own house outside. We loved him. Now that I have kids myself I refuse to get a dog for the reason – you can not predict a dogs mood no matter how long you have him. All dogs can kill/maim. I don’t care what anyone says. My kids are more important to me than a dog!

    Even if Im up the street and a dog comes towards us on a lead – I keep my kids away from it.

    • 131

      Sarah says

      Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately this kid was not a baby but a 7 yr old boy and I feel this could have been prevented. It’s really too bad for both the child and dog.

  56. 132

    says

    Great post! Will share for sure! Very well done and THANK YOU! We have 3 rescues and they all have their foibles ..thankfully, we rarely take them to other homes but ppl do come here. We care for handicapped adults who live with us, so they are well versed in how to treat our dogs. They are always calm and respectful. However, when we have small children visit..I make sure to advise them how to approach our dogs…and how to just leave them alone. If my dogs go to them, they can pet them calmly etc…..If you come to my house, it’s my rules no matter who old you are ;-)

  57. 133

    Rebecca Zaworotko says

    Super Post! Shared on the FB page of one of our local humane societies as I really think this should be read by everyone who engages with pets. Thank you for writing it and sharing the graphics.

  58. 134

    says

    I appreciate all of the graphics. My niece has a dog that lets her do whatever she wants to him. Then she comes to see me and my dog and wants to do the same thing. My dog does NOT like to be hugged. I’m going to print those off to show her next time she visits.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog!

  59. 135

    Kate says

    Love this! Thank you for posting.

    After a child in the family dove on my dog a few times, my dog got up and barked in her face…literally. no more than three inches away from her face. The kid doesn’t know better, but no one else in the family seemed too alarmed. They were all like “she’ll learn,” referring to the kid, but yet had my dog bit her, my dog would’ve been forbidden from any family gatherings. My dog would never be forgiven.

    Now when my dog is around a child roughly the same age as my family member, she barks at them before they get near her. I don’t want her to be that way around children, but it’s hard when children just come running up to her out in public and are loud and grabby and it doesn’t help that it happens in family situations as well.

    It’s also disturbs me the amount of times at the dog park that I’ve seen people just allow their young children to run around and pet strange dogs and come up from behind them and hug them. I realize people don’t always know better, so it’s important to educate them. I don’t know my dogs limit (when she’ll decide that’s enough and bite), and I don’t want to. She’s very friendly and tolerant, but I don’t want to push it. She can’t tell a child to stop the same way we can.

    I love kids and I love dogs. It’s very important to educate children on how to interact with animals appropriately. It’s important to recognize your dog’s feelings of anxiety and fear as well.

    Thank you for this. I’ll be sharing it with everyone!

  60. 136

    Emma says

    My grandmother adopted a dog named chissy, she was a shih tzu something mix. Dog HATED kids. Every time I went over there I tried so badly to get her to like me. Got bit every time. But I kept (stupidly) trying and she finally started letting me pet her. I was the only grandkid she liked. Its the same with birds too. I’m working with a conure that loves to bite, still trying to get him to stop.

  61. 137

    Elizabeth says

    After reading this I just hadd to share a story of my sons. When he was a toddler he would play with our dog on the floor. One day he headbutted the dog and the dog snapped and accidentally caught a tooth in my sons head. My sons father wanted to blame the dog, and have him put down. I think this was mainly due to the iincident happening on his watch. Anyway I fought him and said the dog was just in his actions and it was our sons and ultimately my husbands fault not the dogs. Our son learned a vaulable lesson he has always treated dogs with respect since then, and the dog in question lived on till he died of old age just last year, which is 6 years after this story takes place. I just there were more parents out there that are willing to actually teach their children and not just blame others when their poor little angels act out.

    • 138

      Sarah says

      Hi Elizabeth, thanks for sharing the story. I’m SO glad that you were able to convince your husband. So often people jump to the conclusion that “the dog is aggressive and unpredictable”. Hopefully this post will help educate & bring awareness to many parents. Thanks again for commenting.

  62. 139

    Jody says

    I have 3 dogs, in house. Once, one of my grandchildren got bit by my old lady. I had been telling him over and over to leave her alone because she has a bad hip. He was 5 at the time. Well she finally crawled under a table to get some peace. While no one was paying attention, he crawled under the table and proceeded to sit on her bad hip. Now she didn’t even break the skin, it just welted and an hour later you couldn’t even tell it had happened. His daddy, my son, got so mad and told me, “Mamma, she’s got one more time to bite my kid and she’s a dead dog.” At which point I replied, “No, your child has one more time to hurt my dog and he gets his ass beat and if you don’t like it I will whip yours too. I have been telling him for hours to leave her alone and explained to him that she has a booboo and he hurt her. So you make him leave her alone or you will both be punished. She is in her own home, after all.”

  63. 140

    TK says

    Fantastic article.

    I also have a dog (well, six dogs, but one of them) who is NOT a kid-dog. I don’t know his history because he was left behind when someone moved. He does NOT warm up to new people, has a strong aversion to dark haired men, and doesn’t like kids. I always tell kids who ask to pet my dogs which ones are okay to pet that he doesn’t like to be petted because we don’t know why, but he is frightened of children. Problem is, not all parents will respect that and ask first. It’s frustrating to have to worry about someone else not taking responsibility. One thing I do is that he always has a strong harness with a handle on it so I can pick him up at any time and swoop him into my arms. That way I can hold him, hold his head if a child insists.

    Fortunately my smallest one loves humans (dogs, not so much) and even the smallest humans can torture her and she just goes with it. She played Toto in a play and all the munchkins took turns passing Toto around for snugs. Poor Dot.

    • 141

      Sarah says

      Thanks for commenting, enjoyed hearing about your dogs. Lola and Rio are complete opposites like yours. Rio just adores little kids and will greet them with a wagging tail. But yes, it’s annoying when parents are with their children and they allow them to run up to a dog and assume they are friendly. Take care!

  64. 142

    Danielle says

    Thank you for this post. What a heartbreaking situation.
    I once left my usually very well-behaved dog with my in-laws one day when my husband and I went out to lunch. I asked them to just leave her in her crate and she’d be fine. They decided to take her out anyway, and took her on a walk. When we got back my FIL’s arm was stitched and bandaged up. My dog had never bitten anyone before. My first question (after making sure he was OK) was, “What were you doing to her when she bit you?” Apparently she wouldn’t go back into her crate so he grabbed her from behind and tried to pick her up and scared the heck out of her. I was definitely more angry at my FIL than I was my dog. I learned a lesson that day…don’t leave the dog unsupervised with people I (or my dog!) don’t absolutely trust. So sad for poor “Buddy.” :(

  65. 143

    Alex says

    This is an important subject as it is not only a commentary on dog owners and how they socialize their pets, but it is a commentary on how we raise children these days. The kids parents are not the only ones capable of teaching their children the proper way of interacting with animals. I think my father demonstrated the appropriate way to handle such situations when he brought our family dog Nellie (a black lab mix, very tolerant, very mellow) to a cubscout event. 5 or 6 young boys saw Nellie and immediately ran over and tried to pet her face, ears and tail. My father pulled Nellie behind him and said “Stop. This is not how you interact with a strange dog.” He then let them come up one by one, told them to present Nellie the back of their hand to sniff and then let them pat her neck and back.

    These boys were all strangers to us both and they were not in our charge. My father did not lose his temper or yell. He simply took an active position to protect a member of his family and educate the kids in the proper way to interact with a strange animal. Everyone walked away a little happier and a little wiser that day.

    • 144

      Sarah says

      Hi Alex, thanks for commenting – kudos to your dad for handling the situation correctly. Parents need to step it up and take the initiative to teach their kids, because you cannot rely on others to do so.

  66. 145

    Christine says

    It is totally the parents fault. They have allowed their child to get in the dogs face like that. What would they have expected the dog to do? Then after that happens, who gets punished ? The dog by euthinasiation. That family should never be allowed to own another pet again they get no sympathy from me. Only prayers for the dog.

  67. 146

    adele says

    We have had a nightmare at our school with the nursery children running out of school and up to the dogs who have to be left tied up outside (school rules – no dogs in school grounds). The parents let them do what they want to them, mine has been pulled, yanked, tried to be made to ‘kiss’ another dog, and had bottles of water thrown over him. The parents say absolutely nothing, and I now have a dog who loved ALL kids, now recall nervous of kids around age 5. School seems to think we shouldn’t bring them to school?!?!?!

  68. 148

    ana says

    Wow this is horrible! Thank you for writing about it. A couple things….

    1. Dogs are dogs….not people. They cant say ‘please get away from me you are bothering me.” So instead they growl….sometimes just snap. What are they supposed to do?

    2. People are stupid. They think that becausethe dog has no history of snapping….that it will never happen. Why is that not the ca see with people? Im a really nice person….but I have flipped my shit before. Should I be put down?

    3. I had a pit and a cat for 6 years. Then i got a chihuahua. Things were great….so i got another chihuahua. For 2 year, things were great. I was a big advoacte of putting big dogs with little dogs. Then one day Drake bit Ricky (the chihuahua). Because of the size difference…it was a problem. Ricky lived, but he cant see out of one eye :( It was MY fault. Drake could have killed Ricky but he didnt. He want Ricky to leave him alone. Just like that dog did to that kid. So I had to change the situation and since the chihuahuas would have to go together and someone would need to take care of Rickys eye….it was easier to find the pit a home. I contacted 3 rescues and let them know that Drake had no signs of aggression with people and this was a one time thing. 2 of the 3 rescues (1 being the SPCA) said to put him down. The third rescue (MD dog rescue) posted him on PetFinderm.com. We found a wonderful home for him and now he is the only dog in the household with no children. He is going to be 10 soon :)

    Anyway, education is the key. People need to understand the risks of bringing an ANIMAL into their home. No matter the breed. And take a look at themselves and the situation before putting the blame on the dog.

    • 149

      Sarah says

      HI Ana! Thanks for the comment, you literally had me laughing out loud!
      So sorry to hear about Ricky though :( but thanks for ensuring that Drake found a loving home.

  69. 150

    Tater Tot (Tataaaa!!! according to Sarah!) bol says

    I’m sorry but I remembered back to when we were at the dog park and all through the outing Lola didn’t really “recognize” Peyton as a tiny person.. then all of sudden “WOOOO WOOOO BARROOOOOO”… omg I laughed when I thought of that.
    Love this article though!

  70. 152

    James says

    I get so concerned in the way that parents let children run up to dogs and try an pat them on the head. To a dog anything going over its head is a threat and can be responded to aggressively. Children should always be taught to approach with an open hand gesture, with the palm of the hand towards the dog at or below nose height. That is a friendly gesture. Once the dog as got the person’s scent, stroke under the chin. If the response is good then stroke up the side of the head, behind the ears and then the neck and back. Do NOT reach over the dog’s head as any dog with the slightest aggressive tendency may attempt to bite at any perceived threat. I have an Akita, a lovely gentle dog, but even she will flinch and back off if anybody puts a hand over her head, even ME! She knows I am not a threat but it is instinctive.

    • 153

      Sarah says

      Hi James,
      I completely agree. And most often, because it is the closest I’m assuming – the top of the head is what most of ‘us’ reach for… I hope that by continuing to spread educational pieces on interacting with dogs that it makes an impact on at least a few people. :)

  71. 154

    Nell says

    While I agree that training a child on how to behave around children is essential but training your dog to be safe around kids is a big thing missing from these comments.

    I was raised around dogs, and we’re raising our kids around animals as well. That means we teach our kids but also have to train the animals on appropriate behavior. For example our youngest is 9 months and learning to walk, he’ll start out gentle and randomly get to what we consider too much (we always error on the of being too cautious). We intervene immediately but we’ve also trained our dog to get up and walk away whenever he feels impeded upon. He’s trained to drop anything a child touches, not pass people on the stairs, not jump and has been trained on how to play the safe games.

    So it really takes training of the children and the pets involved. For example my sister has 2 dogs and didn’t train them, so we had an incident where she wasn’t supervising her dog (who was under exercised and not mentally getting drained) her lab pounced my eldest son when he was under a year. Full speed ran up and leap full body weight on him, the only reason he wasn’t injured more is he fell onto something soft. He wasn’t being prey and running around screeching he was standing there looking the other way not interacting with her. His actions didn’t trigger the behavior she was just never trained that he wasn’t a toy.

    If you own a dog and don’t have kids be sure to socialize them, we have a friend who comes over to do just that (well and puppy play dates). It’s good for kids to learn dogs behave differently and good for dogs to be around kids of all ages in a supervised and educational setting.

  72. 155

    Bill says

    Well there was no way for you to respond to this without actually being a b#$%*.

    Let me set you all straight here. The attitude here of the ‘fur mom’ is ‘That poor dog is being punished for something that is the child’s fault’. Well, maybe you need a refresher in the order of life on this Earth. Human children have more rights than your fur children. And when a dog disfigures one for life, you don’t blame the child. You have no clue clearly what it’s like to raise a real kid. We teach them all kinds of things. Do they always listen? Do they always do it right? Can we REALLY monitor every interaction. NO! And if a dog’s first response to annoyance is to disfigure a kid…The DOG HAS A BAD TEMPERAMENT!!!!!!

    Homes belong to human children to roam and make mistakes in. Those of you think that the dog has the same right to exist in that space have disconnected from real life.

    And if you came to my family gathering full of kids and left all horrified about how your dog couldn’t put up with lots of kids, I would just tell you to leave your dog at home next time. It is a PET.

    By the way I have a dog and a cat, and if the dog so much as made a singe aggressive move at my kid it would be out the door. Easy decision.

    • 156

      Alex says

      Your attitude is very typical of a real parent and I do agree with you on the fact that a dog that mauls a child needs to be put down. But there is a BIG jump from being bitten or scratched by a dog and being mauled by one. I’m certain that if your child beat another kid half to death with a rock because he was being bullied, you would defend your kid’s right to self defense until your dying breath, in spite of the fact that his tormentor is now lying in a coma in a hospital. The ironic part of the story is that the bully’s parent would 100% press charges and say that your child “has a bad temperament” and deserves harsher punishment.

      Just like there is a difference between bloodying a bully’s nose and beating him half to death, there is a difference between a bite and a mauling. It’s all a question of appropriate/measured response. Dogs have the capacity to crush bones with a single bite and rip giant chunks of flesh off of you with ease. Keep that in mind the next time you or your kid are bitten by a dog and it barely draws blood, that the dog was restraining its self in a big way.

      • 157

        Bill says

        Again, Dogs are not humans. They don’t share the same rights as a child. So comparing a bully attack to a dog attack is beyond delusional.

      • 158

        Bill says

        We also cannot put the dog in jail and fines for your dog attacking someone are nothing like having to hire a lawyer for your kid.

        • 159

          Jennifer says

          When I was a child it was explained to me like this “dogs and people are the same. Some of them like you and some of them don’t. Some are nice and some are mean, kind of how there are nice kids at school and also kids that don’t treat others nicely. You don’t like it when people touch your hair, but your sister likes her hair touched, and no one can tell that by looking at the two of you. You can’t tell what a dog likes or doesn’t like by looking at it either. so always talk to the owner before you try to make a dog friend.” That REALLY made me understand even though I was 4 yr old and in preschool. I hope this helps a parent explain it to their child. MY point is that by teaching children to empathize with and respect the boundaries of pets, you help them become more in touch with empathy and boundaries when they relate to humans too. It helps them develop emotional maturity. Dogs feel fear, shame, happiness, grief, pain, love and Excitement and annoyance just like people do. If your child can properly read the feelings of an animal who can’t talk and act appropriately in the situation think how successful that child will be at communication with co – workers, friends or a spouse. Plus humans who are obnoxious towards pets and don’t respect animals because they believe they are “above them” tend to treat humans they view as “below them” in the same manner. I hope I helped you see it a different way.

    • 161

      Casey says

      @Alex,

      I have a two kids AND a dog. So I feel pretty well qualified to respond to this by saying, “No.”

      No, If my child was snarling and barking in my dog’s face (I’m going to assume I didn’t know about this at the time, because if I did, it wouldn’t last more than .002 seconds before I YANKED my child away and let him have it, the same as I would if I saw him interacting with another human being in that manner) and he was bit by the dog? I would NOT have the dog put down. Because it IS the child’s fault for provoking basic *defensive* animal behavior from an animal.

      No. We cannot assume the dog’s “first response” was to bite. All we know is it was his last response, and that does not equal a bad temperament.

      No. Someone who believes the way you do, that a child should be allowed to interact incorrectly with an animal — invading its space, acting aggressively towards it, etc. — just because “kids are kids” and it is the child’s home, should NOT have a dog. If a family has a dog, that means they’ve chosen to bring it into that environment. That dog didn’t have a choice. That dog was MADE to have that home, and as the human master who is making all the decisions for this animal it is YOUR job to provide it with nutrition, care and safety. If you want to bring something into your home, yet deny that care, nutrition and safety, not allowing that home to be its home as well, get a pet rock.

      • 162

        Bill says

        What if your child was snarling and barking at the dog, you didn’t see it, and the dog disfigured your child for life. You are a bad parent if you keep that dog. Human children need to be put in a place where they can make mistakes without it still being visible on their face as an adult.

        Nobody said let your kids go nuts on the animals. But an animal that can’t deal with annoyance without disfiguring your kid ( and trust me – most have a good enough temperament not to ) is NOT an animal that should be around kids.

        Should it die? Probably not, but it should be muzzled around kids or not around them.

        It’s like saying, you know what. I really love my electrical outlets uncovered. I’m going to teach my kid not to mess with the outlet and trust he will be perfect.

        Terrible parenting those of you that put your kids in situations to be disfigured before they understand the life time consequences of annoying the dog.

      • 163

        Bill says

        Also, your kid didn’t have a choice in the matter either.

        Fascinating that so many of you place the dog on the same tier as your child. I feel bad for you kids if you would really keep a dog that caused stitches to one of their faces.

        Here’s the thing there as well. You better hope dog and kid a PERFECT if you move forward with that animal in your house. Because if it happens again, this little organization called Child Protective Services just might stop by for a visit. And they are not animal control…trust me.

        • 164

          RottieGirl:) says

          The problem is if you put the dog down and do not teach the child the correct way to approach a dog they might get bitten by another dog. By the way your argument of rights is really annoying. It wasn’t that long ago that women and blacks had less rights then white males, do we look back at them being beaten and abused and think ‘oh, its okay because they didn’t have rights yet?’ I don’t think that dogs should have the right to vote, but maybe the problem is with society, putting a human life above all others.

          There really are so many different possibilities of the situation – but what you and basically everyone else seems to agree on is that the parent should have stopped the dog and/or child before this happened.
          That being said if you are a parent that lets your child continually mess with a dog(s) (yours or any dog really) you are a ‘bad’ parent.

          It is about balancing your dogs wants and needs and your child’s wants and needs. If the two of these become outbalanced someone gets hurt.

  73. 165

    Hitomi says

    Thank you for posting this blog, such a helpful information especially with family who has small children and dogs. It saddened me what happened with buddy and Matthew, I agree that the parents could have prevented it. I have two dogs and about to have my first baby, I have been reading all kinds of stuff on how I will introduce my baby to my dogs. I certainly didn’t want my dogs to feel left out when the baby comes and I want them to still get the same attention they’re getting now. I love my dogs and I absolutely want my baby to love them too and learn how to treat them right. I’ve seen so many people trying to get their kids a dog but never really teach them how to treat them right. It makes me sad to see some dogs being mistreated or neglected in a home. I hope one day more people will be much educated in taking care of their dogs and will keep in mind that dogs has feelings too.

  74. 166

    Bill says

    Again, I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t be taught or held accountable. I’m saying that the child’s life is and always will be more valuable. I think this is what really bothers some of you. Some of you picture a cute dog getting punished for how it dealt with a bratty kid. For all you know this mother whose child has a large scar on his face did everything right in teaching her kid and this happened in that split second many of us have experienced where our child fails at lessons we teach. As a parent, you cannot allow these moments to effect your child for life. And if that means getting rid of the dog then it’s your responsibility as a parent to protect the kid…because you know realistically you have to lock the dog or the kid up to be really sure all the time.

    If you all want to visualize quickly the difference between finding a dead dog on the side of the road (sad I agree) and the difference between finding a dead kid in the same spot…that should clearly paint the image of what I’m saying. Dogs are not humans and they don’t have the same rights. They deserve quality lives and to be treated with respect, but those of you that place the same value on their lives are not thinking coherently.

    • 167

      BrIar says

      I like dogs better than kids/humans. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be absolutely devastated if I saw a dead human though “on the side of the road”. Your argument is that the two can’t be valued equally is totally invalid. Love for humans and love for dogs is not mutually exclusive. Broaden your horizons.

  75. 168

    RottieGirl:) says

    I personally think we should be teaching kids in school correct ways to handle and approach dogs. Even just the basics like when not to approach a dog (if it is off lead or growling) how to approach a dog (ask owners permission, correct postion of hand, etc) what not to do near dogs (run, scream, hit eachother). Take out one day every year of watching a pointless movie in school and it may keep kids from getting bit.

  76. 169

    says

    We have an aging red heeler mix (approx. 10 years old) who has always been great with kids. But now that her eyesight is starting to fail and we have two toddlers in the mix (our 21 month old and the 28 month old neighbor boy), she is not as tolerant as she once was. We spoke with an animal behaviorist at our vet’s office and she was very clear on one thing especially. She said never to scold your dog for growling at a child. The growl is a warning to the child to back off. If you scold them for growling, they will stop giving warning and just bite instead. We are working hard to teach the kids to be respectful and gentle.
    Chelsea recently posted…Lent for Beth

  77. 170

    says

    I have a Mini Schnauzer, my baby girl, one yr. old, Named Gypsy. I have told more than one child to not get in her face. She’s not vicious, but when she gets very hyped up while playing, if you get in her face , she could possibly nip you out of excitement. She did it to me, but it was my fault,,, never under any circumstances, would I put her down for doing what she’s suppose to. She’s a dog, her mouth is all she has to protect herself with!!!

  78. 171

    Tony says

    As a parent we can teach our children all the right ways to treat animals, BUT they are still kids, and it is very hard to watch everything they do. My child is a very well behaved child, but still gets ideas in his head, and doesn’t think things through before he does them (especially when I’m not watching) I agree with what “buddy’s” owners did, the dog should be put down for that. I do not tolerate cruelty to animals in any way, but when it comes to people, sorry, but the dog comes second! I have a family dog at my parents place, and my boy loves the dog, as do I and the whole family, but if the dog ever bit my boy, (or any other child) for any reason, that would be the end of the dog, no questions asked and NO hesitation. My son is a hell of a lot more important than ANY animal!

  79. 172

    jniel says

    Thank you for this important article. I share your frustration and hate that people are so unimaginative when it comes to fixing problems with who should be their family members (pets). One small criticism – you refer to the dog as “it”. I believe in the power of language and as long as we keep referring to animals as “it” and as property by claiming they are “owned”, the idea that we can treat them however we want will persist. Obviously those things alone are not the problem, but it’s a part of it we can all work on.

  80. 173

    Jennifer says

    When I was a child it was explained to me like this “dogs and people are the same. Some of them like you and some of them don’t. Some are nice and some are mean, kind of how there are nice kids at school and also kids that don’t treat others nicely. You don’t like it when people touch your hair, but your sister likes her hair touched, and no one can tell that by looking at the two of you. You can’t tell what a dog likes or doesn’t like by looking at it either. so always talk to the owner before you try to make a dog friend.” That REALLY made me understand even though I was 4 yr old and in preschool. I hope this helps a parent explain it to their child.

  81. 174

    Roger says

    When I was 5 years old, I remember getting on my hands and knees and acting like a dog – approaching my parents’ springer spaniel from behind. I barked really loudly at him, and he wheeled around and bit me on the face. He didn’t maul me, he reacted to me because I scared him and he was protecting himself. Stitches on my chin and nose. We had that dog until I was in jr. high and he died at age 14. I was bitten once after that – for trying to take a glove away from him. I learned my lesson. He wasn’t a mean dog – but he was protective and you had to understand that.

    Parents need to take precautions. And if they have concerns, they shouldn’t own a dog.

  82. 175

    Michelle says

    Thank you for posting about buddy and Mathew. We just had the same problem in our house. My 3 year old pulled my dogs tail and was bitten. our dog has never bitten anyone before so it came as a shock to us. He happens to be a Staffordshire terrier mix and a rescue dog. We are so sad for our daughter but also for our dog too. We’ve been trying to tell our daughter not to irritate and tease him but unfortunately weren’t persistent enough. Now I’m wondering what to do? I feel like I have failed both of them…

    • 176

      Sarah Lukemire says

      Hi Michelle,
      That is a tough situation :(. Kids are also very persistent so I can only imagine how hard it would be to control. Is your daughter now scared of the dog? I would definitely work on how to properly interact with the dog and make sure both of them are relaxed in each other’s presence, then work with both of them in controlled situations. Otherwise, you may have to separate them when you are unable to supervise. You may also want to consult with a trainer. Best of luck to you.

  83. 177

    Britannia Leigh says

    Thank you so much for posting this. It is heart breaking to me to see parents that are endangering the safety and lives of both their pets and their children. I see countless photos and incidents where children are inappropriately interacting with dogs while the parents sit by and assume that everything is fine with the scenario. I also think that those of us who are dog owners that stand up for the proper treatment of our dogs are often viewed as strange, unfriendly, and “animal crazy” as if we are putting our animals before the child simply because we do not allow inappropriate interactions with our dogs.

    I have a large lab/boxer/bull breed mixed dog who happens to love both people and children but is ALWAYS shy of being touched on the top of her head by strangers (once she becomes familiar with someone she has no issues with head scratches). A boy who lives down the street from me once came out of his yard to ask if he could pet my dog as we were coming home from a walk one day. I told him “Yes, she is very friendly and she likes to be scratched on her chest and shoulders.” He completely ignored me and reached directly for her head. Her shyness took over and she stepped back out of his range. Instead of being discouraged by this he continued to try to touch her head, I stepped between them half way and said “No, she doesn’t like to be petted there. Pet her here, on her chest.” and then I demonstrated for him, scratching her a little in the center of her chest. The kid frowned at me and said “I don’t want to pet her there.” and then tried to reach for her head again and I then stepped fully between them and informed him “If you aren’t going to pet her the way she likes to be petted, then you can’t pet her.” He then turned and ran back to his house. About 30 minutes later his mother knocked on my door and proceeded to bitch me out for being “mean” to her son and not letting him pet my dog. She didn’t care to hear my side of the story or an explanation of any kind and so eventually I just slammed my door in her face.

    I can’t help but feel that these types of incidents occur because the general public is uninformed on how to treat dogs properly and that the general public also sees dogs, all dogs, as a source for their pleasure and amusement regardless of if they own that dog or are familiar with it.

    • 178

      Sarah Lukemire says

      Hi Britannia,
      Thanks for the comment. That’s really too bad that the kid couldn’t respect that simple request :(. Sometimes kids are just so persistent and I’ve even found that kids and adults immediately reach for a dog’s head when petting – which many dogs (Lola included), do not like. She would much rather her back, neck, chest be touched (even by me!). Thanks again for stopping by!

  84. 179

    Alex Sinclair says

    I came to this place because the above picture of Lola appeared in my Facebook news feed.

    I’m very tired of seeing this kind of material which appears to place the onus upon the parents and the child to educate / become educated in order to avoid being bitten when the responsibility should be firmly placed in the hands of the breeder, owner and the dog. Children who live with dogs DO need to know that physically hurting the dog or taunting the dog is not a very sensible idea but any dog which is going to come into contact with children, needs to be bombproof or it is simply not a suitable pet.

    It’s 11 July and the kids or on their summer holidays from school. We would like to go on some outing to parks, beaches, country walks etc. but since our kids have been terrorised by dogs in the past (particularly my 14 year old daughter) we are limited to areas where dogs have been banned. Our daughter will not go anywhere where there are dogs. We are having to travel 114 miles to a beach later today, it’s the nearest one where dogs are officially not permitted. We actually have a very popular beach 3 miles from our house which we cannot use. Do you think that this is fair?

    I was terrorised by a big dog which lived in my area when I was ~12. I was often late for school because this dog was allowed to roam free on the field in front of my house. I had to wait until it was at the other end of the field before I could make my way to school. On the way home, I had to take 1 of 3 routs in order to avoid it because when it saw me, it would chase after me. I was bitten a total of 3 times and it could take me up to 40 minutes to walk what should have been the 5 minute final leg of my journey home. This was a particularly vicious animal which had no provocation from me other than the fact that I was being seen to be an intruder on its territory. It continued to bite other kids too but nothing happened till it bit a policeman’s daughter. A whole neighbourhood breathed a huge sigh of relief when it was eventually disposed of. Again NOT fair.

    I could go on. Bags of poo tied to trees by “responsible owners”, can’t play in the park anyway because there is poo everywhere left by “responsible owners”. A former neighbour who had two nasty dogs that he used to train to be even nastier because he wanted them to be able to protect him from his criminal rivals. Not an uncommon reason to own a dog in certain parts by said “responsible owners”.

    Continuing to support efforts to have dogs removed from public areas where children might want to go about their business unmolested and free from dog poo.

    • 180

      Sarah Lukemire says

      Hi Alex,
      These all sound like cases of “irresponsible owners” vs. responsible owners.

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