My dog bit my toddler in the face, what do i do?? A little bit of background. We adopted our dog (pitbull/red heeler)

A little bit of background. We adopted our dog (pitbull/red heeler) about a month ago. she showed no signs of aggression towards my toddler but was growly with my husband when he pet her if she was lying down, even nipped him once(no blood but made contact and left a pinpoint bruise). since then, husband and dog have bonded and is no longer and issue. she's been "my dog" since day one, although she never got jealous of the baby. they got along well together, baby would roll all over her, and even bit her hard once without any reaction at all. but since she's part cattle dog, her herding instincts would kick in sometimes and she would gently mouth our toddler back in line. I never felt that that was a problem, but perhaps i'm too careless? ignorant?I'm a stay at home mom so i'm with them both 24hrs a day and would like to think that i know them both fairly well. she's also very weary of strangers that come into our home and will growl bark and nip if someone came too close, this happens primarily with male visitors. and mostly at night.

the situation...
we had a get together at my mother in-laws house with about 6-8 people. dog did almost fine and i was pretty surprised. no growling no barking but she did seem a little shy. dog spyed a female guest with a plate of food and proceeded to sit in front of lady. Baby toddeled up to give dog a hug, dog snapped back and caught baby in the face. we immediately took the dog and put her in the yard. baby has several shallow puncture wounds not bad( it's really hard to write that, as if any bite were a good bite). I let my guard down. it should not have happened. I can't believe i let that happen.

My husband and everyone there is adamant that we send dog back to shelter. but we love our dog. It was our fault that she was pushed to her limits... it was an extremely stressful situation for her even though she didn't show it as much as I thought she would. I was careless to think that she would act normally with the baby or myself for that matter. I don't think she aware that it was the baby that was hugging her. it could have been anyone. I don't want to sound like i don't treasure my child's well being. I don't know what to do. I'm worried that if we take her back, she won't get adopted out because of my mistake... but if we keep her, there's always the thought of what if next time... on a lesser note, not that it's much lesser, if we keep her (which i highly highly doubt) relationship problems are sure to follow. Help..

Asked by Member 1081619 on Jan 3rd 2012 Tagged bite in Dogs & Kids
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Gray Dawn Treader

Sounds like resource guarding, which is a pretty common issue for dogs of all breeds. Dogs feel the need to protect items they value, such as food and toys.
Here is an article with advice regarding resource guarding: www.paw
As far as I know--and I, just a dog owner like you, could be wrong!--there is no way to stop a dog from resource guarding from children, other than supervision and teaching the child to respect the dog and stay away from him when he is eating. That's what my parents did when I was young.

I do think as long you supervise, and put the dog in another room or crate her when you cannot supervise, it will be fine. It's not at all uncommon, and it doesn't make the dog dangerous enough to be considered a bad pet.
My current dog is typically very sweet and friendly, including with strangers. But he has even shown some resource guarding with me, and he lets me do things that he wouldn't let other people do, such as play with his tail. I taught him to respect me even with food, but I wouldn't trust him not to bite a stranger or a young child when food is concerned.

Gray Dawn Treader answered on 1/3/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I think it was kind of a stressful situation, too much stimulus. I know this might be hard to understand but most dogs do not like to be hugged. It stresses them. Do not let your toddler roll the dog over and don't let your dog mouth on the baby.

I reccommend the book MINE! for your dog's resource guarding and/or the Ian Dunbar's wonderful website

I also reccommend more socialization

Good luck!

Obi answered on 1/3/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


Dont give the dog up by just one mistake yes it could happen again but there are ways to prevent them First i would like to point out that when the dog first nipped at your husband you should of taken action growling is the first sign the dog is in distress. Second when the dog started to herd the child that should of been nipped in the butt do not let any dog do that to a child yes it might be cute the first time but dont even let the dog think about it. Third if the dog is only used to 3 people at one time dont force 6 to 8 people they cant handle the stress more socialization and some obedience training will do the dog some good. If you decide to have a social gathering with friends/relatives make sure the dog is outside or in a room all to its self. Your child needs to know that hugging a dog is dangerous even if the dog doesnt mind it the dog may bite and eventually will.When food is present there should not be any begging from your dog put the dog outside or in its own room.

*Tommy* answered on 1/3/12. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


It is time to consult a behaviorist as well as a trainer if you really love that dog. Spend the time and the money to make your dog a good citizen and a great family member. Behaviorist AND trainer. Now. Before its too late.

Member 1161804 answered on 4/2/13. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer