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What would you do? My pit bull mix lunged at my 4 yr old son unprovoked shortly after biting him.

We had a mostly-pit bull mix we adopted at 8 wks. We never would have chosen a pit bull, but we were misinformed.
Our middle son, 4, was always hugging him, and wanting to be close. I can't tell you how many times we told him to get off the dog! We did our best to supervise, but with a baby to chase around, it was impossible to be in the same room as both of them every second.
And one day, he bit. his cheek, broke the skin. It scared the crap out of my son. Knowing his habits, we were willing to forgive the dog and continue to teach our kid what not to do. Two days later, as my son stood next to the dog as he sat in a chair, the dog just growled, and lunged at him. I was there, and yelled, and he stopped. It was terrifying for both of us. My son asked for days after to get rid of him.
After I told my husband, we didn't know what to do, but took the dog to animal control a few days ago. I want to get him, but what if he bites again? Plus my son doesn't want him back. I feel awful.


Asked by Member 976732 on Mar 23rd 2010 Tagged dogbites, children, behavior, problems, aggression in Behavior & Training
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Bo

This is so very sad!!!
If it is possible, and your really want to keep your dog, you might consider getting some professional help along with training classes. If you find a reputable trainer, this may take care of all problems quickly. You can even let your 4 year old attend these classes with you. It might help your son feel more in control.
If it isn't an option for you, you might see if a local shelter could take him in instead of animal control, as he will end up at a pound and be euthanized.
I am very sorry for all involved in this situation. And I believe that training and a behavioral specialist can help you out alot. It is worth it, if you really do want your dog back. I know you must feel dreadful.

Good luck


Bo answered on 3/23/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer


Shiver Me Timbers

I agree with the above poster. And while it may seem unprovoked to you, to him, it probably wasn't. Dog body language is a complex thing to understand and learn. If you intend to keep him, definitely get a professional trainer/behaviorist in there to teach you guys what you're doing wrong and show you how to train both your dog and your child how to be with each other.


Shiver Me Timbers "Charlie" answered on 3/23/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Ace

How old is the dog now? Did you consider taking the dog to the vet to find out if there is some medical reason he might be acting this way all of a sudden? I would get the dog back, and take him to be seen. There is usually a reason dogs snap like that, and it's not because of the breed. If there is nothing wrong with him medically, then seek the help of a good trainer. If that doesn't work, then take the time to find him a good home that doesn't have kids. Either way, I would get him out of Animal Control.


Ace answered on 3/23/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Rambo

I am so sorry you are having to go through this. I have been ther literally.
I have a Pittie mix and a 7 year old boy. My son has always thought it was cute to grab his snout and hold, he would walk by his crate when he is in it and tease him or lean in like he wants to fight and Rambo would go crazy. Rambo has been very patient for a long time. He even would hold a bone in his mouth while they played so he wouldn't hurt him but he just reached his breaking point. He will growl and moan first if he is doing something he doesn't like and usually i am there to tell him that that is his way of saying enough. But the one time i wasn't there and he tried to snatch a toy out of his mouth Rambo bit him and broke the skin. I was like you and forgave him because i know how chris is. Now right after that we kept him from him and called a behaviorist, and got him neutered. Basically she focused on chris and how to handle Rambo and we haven't had a problem since. I am running out of space PM me


Rambo answered on 3/24/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Kolbe

"Pit bulls" can be wonderful, devoted companions. Fear-mongering media sure has a pull on everyone these days.

You say the dog's reaction was "unprovoked" but then go on to provide a history of your son 'hugging' him -- which in dog language is not a friendly behavior. If you wanted the dog to tolerate hugging, then you should have been working to associate the hug with something positive. Like every time your son hugged the dog, the dog gets a treat. This way the dog does not associate it with rude and threatening behavior, which is the natural way dogs see it. Since the dog was clearly uncomfortable with the hugging, he probably began associating your son's presence with that -- growling and lunging are 'warning signals' -- sounds like he was trying to keep the son away because he's overwhelmed by him.

If you are willing, hire a behaviorist to show you what to do... however the dog now has a bite history with the son, who you want to protect. Not sure of the answer here...


Kolbe answered on 3/24/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Guest

go to theperfectdog.com


Member 936148 answered on 3/24/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Jack

(To the last poster, your answer was totally off base and unhelpful. If you hate it here, why bother visiting?)

Getting back to the original issue.....

It concerns me when you say you would never have chosen a pit bull. And when you say that it was an unprovoked attack because I think (and I mean no offense by this, I'm just being completely honest) it reflects a lack of knowledge about dog behavior on your part. Pit bull terriers have no more or less chance of being aggressive or biting than any other dog breed or mix. We just notice it more because of the media. If you had a yorkie or a cute little chi mix, this exact same thing could (and probably well may have) happened.

Your son likely set up a pattern of making the dog feel insecure and anxious and there may have been something that happened that you just couldn't see the day of the attack.

A behaviorist is a really good idea and if not, maybe you can find a good no-kill rescue that can place him in an adult only home.


Jack answered on 3/24/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Rupert

You have lots of good answers here; Charlie and Jack are both right on target. I am jumping in because we recently rescued a Pit mix, and I have been reading and learning a lot about the breed lately.

I agree with those who say it's not the breed because Pits - while they may have issues with other dogs or animals - are known for being very good with humans (both adult and child varieties).

When you yelled and your dog listened, that was the time to praise him and remove him from the room. The listening was a very good sign, and I believe your dog can be helped.

If you can't afford a behaviorist yet, start saving up and meanwhile, read the following books:

The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.
Calming Signals: On Talking Terms with Dogs by Turid Rugaas
Don't Shoot the Dog! by Karen Prior

These books will help you communicate and understand your dog, who doesn't speak English. Give him a place to escape the kids. Praise him when he's calm. Rescue him from "jail."


Rupert answered on 3/24/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Kayak

Unbelievable. Ida had that dog out of my house that very minute, not to is criminal, as is even considering the idea of bringing him back into the home. What are you thinking?
Your first priority is the safely of your children. You say you have a baby. Imagine what that dog could do to an even smaller child.
If he comes back and seriously injures one of them, child protective services can easily and justifiably get involved.


Kayak answered on 3/25/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Sig

It only takes one good bite to kill a young child. Unprovoked or not the dog should not bite a child, sounds like the dog doesn't have patience for children. Not saying anything bad about pitbulls, just that one needs to be in a family with no young children. Trust me, don't take the risk. It is a very strong breed and if it gets angry enough to really put some force into it you will be powerless to stop it from really damaging your son, or even killing him! Even a smaller dog than that breed can kill a child in the blink of an eye. And if your son is nervous around the dog it will make the dog attack him again. Dog's do NOT trust people who are nervous around them, they can sense it.


Sig answered on 4/1/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer