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post #1 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-24-2012, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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My dobie and toddler - advice on bites

I've been searching through the posts in this forum for a similar situation to mine to get some advice on dogs biting toddlers. It seems like every scenario is just slightly different so I'm hoping to get some feedback on mine specifically.

Here are all the facts I think could be relevant:
1. my female dobe (Frieda) is 7 and we got her at age 1 from IL Doberman Rescue. She came up from New Orleans and I think they got her around 6-8 months of age.
2. Frieda has had multiple situations of nipping from being overexcited or protective. Once we figured out her triggers, we were able to control those situations. For example, no one enters the house unless we are the first at the door to greet them. Frieda is just too unpredictable to know who is going to be perceived as a 'threat' and get a warning bite. While we have never encouraged her protective behavior, I know it is natural and we never felt that there was something wrong with her.
3. When I got pregnant 2 1/2 years ago, we took Frieda to obedience classes for 6 weeks with a fantastic trainer (also trains police dogs) and got some really good insight and people training on how to handle her dog aggression, manage any situation with her, introduce to baby, etc.
4. We live in a 2 bedroom condo in a small city. No yard, but do try to get walks and running in whenever we can.

Our son is almost 2 now and we have had two situations where Frieda has snapped at his face and left teeth marks. Neither has been deep, they are clearly warning snaps. This recent one has left a long red mark near his eye and another smaller one by his ear. Our trainer is very familiar with Frieda's situation and agrees she is displaying a level of control by not causing actual harm.
A few days ago, I was in our kitchen and Frieda was in the living room. The living room is primarily my son's space with toys and couches the dogs are not allowed on. Her dog bed is located elsewhere. My son ran from the kitchen to the living room and within seconds I heard her snarl (the one you know is accompanying a bite). I know he likely did something to provoke her, but he has never done anything overly aggressive to her such as pulling her ear, poking her eye, etc. Their typical interactions are positive - they will both play bow at each other or chase around the house. If he gets overexcited and starts to give hard pats or climb under her, I immediately stop them. I also stop them if Frieda starts to do her 'raging bull' when she is doing a play bow and starts scratching at the floor because she will get paw his back and leave scratch marks.
I know everyone will say never leave kids unsupervised, but I just don't know how to control this without locking her up all the time. With our condo being set up with a kitchen/dining area that is separate from the living room, it's just not feasible to keep our son and dog in the room with us at all times. The fact that the first situation a few months ago WAS supervised frustrates me because I can see where she was caught by surprise (he fell down against her back legs). But my son is not even 2 so I don't know how much longer I can live with this knowing that any unexpected movement could trigger a bite. Even a warning snap could go wrong very easily.
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post #2 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-24-2012, 10:12 PM
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If you do not want to crate her while you cannot supervise the both of them together (or if it would be too much time in the crate) I suggest investing in some baby gates and section off parts of your condo.



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post #3 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-24-2012, 10:31 PM
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Mmm interesting when you say you try to get walks and running in when ever you can !!

Dobes need lots of exercise everyday. Not when we can, it's not an option.

Try would try walking her out everyday and taking your son along. This would be a good positive bonding session. I would suggest a long walk on the lead for at least an hour each day ( no option ) with your son in the buggy right next to her.

I agree with the use of baby gates too , she is probably too old now to use a crate and will more than likely resent your son more of she is over restricted.


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post #4 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-24-2012, 10:38 PM
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I highly doubt this is her way of showing she is not getting enough stimulation. I agree with baby gates for now but that is not a permanent fix. You need to consistently monitor the situation. It sounds like your 2 year old does not know the proper way to be around a dog.

I think what goes on when you are not looking is the answer to your problem. If your female knows that every time your 2 year old is around there is a chance for improper petting or whatever then she reacts accordingly.


Either way this dog needs more stimulation, but you need to watch what's going on a lot more. Especially since this has proven already poorly. What happens if your dobe takes it one step further??

Another good idea is to take her to the vet. Thyroid issues can cause aggression. Maybe something is up with her health wise.


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post #5 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-24-2012, 11:32 PM
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Sorry but I'm not trying to say her lack of stimulation / exercise is causing the problem but it won't help.

I assume she is fine with yourself and partner, it's only non family members/ guests and your child she snaps at?

Would she have snapped at you if you fell on her? Can you touch her all over, ears, feet, over her back etc without a reaction?

If so then bonding through walking and making her see your son is part of the family would really help.

I am very experienced with aggressive Doberman whether it be dog/ dog aggression or human aggression.

At the moment your girl is giving out warning signals so please don't allow your child to play with her even supervised.


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post #6 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-24-2012, 11:46 PM
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Another thing to consider. Could she have a hip problem or injury with the fact that she snapped when your son fell on her back legs?

One of my Dobies has over the last few months got increasingly snappy if any of the other dogs bumped into her. Turns out, after months of going to the vet and finally getting referred to a specialist she had torn her cruciate ligament. !!!


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post #7 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-24-2012, 11:47 PM
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Sorry 4dobe. I didn't mean to insinuate that this was what you were saying. I understood you were just pointing out that section from the ops post.

I just wanted to make sure that the op knew that we didn't think that was the only problem.


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post #8 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 01:00 AM
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The other option is a basket muzzle when you can't keep a totally close eye on her.
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post #9 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 06:08 AM
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I second the baby gates idea.
I also second the opinion that a 2 year old is not old enough to play with a dog of any size, much less a Dobe.
Last but not least I second that your dog needs regular exercise, even when it is raining, cold or whatever.
If you cannot take Toddler out with dog then get someone to watch over him/her so your dog is exercised regularly/appropriately.
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post #10 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 11:31 AM
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I would recommend you get a board certified veterinary behaviorist involved: Find a Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist ACVB


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post #11 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 11:40 AM
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Well, this is exactly what happens and next you know, some poor kid gets mauled by some poor dog (whatever the breed) all because the caregiver is too busy to supervise. While I'm not really a fan of small children to begin with, I'd never want to see one hurt. And it really ticks me off that because of someone not willing to properly supervise, the breed will have another bite incident on their record.

I'll be blunt. Either crate the dog, or your child or for bloody sake supervise them. What are you thinking, leaving a two year old and a large dog that you know already has shown some aggression, alone unsupervised?! I don't know who should be removed, the child or the dog. But if you cannot properly parent either of them, one has to go.

And maybe the dog can find a more suitable home where it gets regular exercise, not just once in a blue moon.

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post #12 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dizzybird View Post
Our son is almost 2 now and we have had two situations where Frieda has snapped at his face and left teeth marks. Neither has been deep, they are clearly warning snaps. This recent one has left a long red mark near his eye and another smaller one by his ear. Our trainer is very familiar with Frieda's situation and agrees she is displaying a level of control by not causing actual harm.
This alarms me. If my dog EVER snapped at ANYONE'S face, much less a child, they would separated straight away. Period. Gates, crates, whatever inconvenience it took - doesn't matter.

To me, red scratches left by teeth on someone's face IS causing harm and this is a big problem. I'm frankly shocked that you are acting so casual about it, especially about your child.

I agree with MeadowCat about getting a behaviorist involved, or consider rehoming the dog. This is a serious problem and at this rate, its not a matter of "IF" something worse happens, its a matter of "WHEN".



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Last edited by Burns; 11-25-2012 at 12:07 PM.
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post #13 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 02:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for all your advice. I do want to clarify a few things, I know our living situation is not ideal for a doberman and while everyone likes to point out all our failures as dog owners, I still feel giving her a safe and loving home is better than how she might be treated otherwise. I struggle with giving her up for a rescue because we made a commitment to her and I feel like we've failed her. I am absolutely NOT casual about the fact that she is injuring my son, but I am here to ask advice on my dog. I have other people that can help me with my emotional state over my son.

I will state again that the first incident was supervised and I was able to react quickly. However, it happened regardless and I don't know how to prevent that 100% unless I keep them away from each other at all times. I don't know what kind of life that is for my dog.

4Dobes - We've always had to work with her reacting by snapping. She has snapped at us before too and it has been something we've always had to deal with and constantly train her not to do. We have already been to a behaviorist and will be having him come out for a home visit again.

I think what I'm asking is whether we are being unrealistic to expect that she is going to be able to be around a small child. She was great when he was a baby (and not moving), but he moves now - quickly, but not aggressively.
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post #14 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 02:35 PM
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"However, it happened regardless and I don't know how to prevent that 100% unless I keep them away from each other at all times."

You already know the answer to your question. Either keep them separated 100% of the time, or rehome her to a more appropriate situation. That's it.

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post #15 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4Dobes View Post
Mmm interesting when you say you try to get walks and running in when ever you can !!

Dobes need lots of exercise everyday. Not when we can, it's not an option.

Try would try walking her out everyday and taking your son along. This would be a good positive bonding session. I would suggest a long walk on the lead for at least an hour each day ( no option ) with your son in the buggy right next to her.

I agree with the use of baby gates too , she is probably too old now to use a crate and will more than likely resent your son more of she is over restricted.


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Most of our daily walks are with our son, and they actually do get along great most of the time. They play well together but I wonder if I shouldn't be letting them play at all? He pats her (gently), and she will even back up to him to get a hug on her back. She does also have a crate but I also don't know if crating her most of the day will make her even more stir crazy.
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post #16 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gatehouse View Post
Well, this is exactly what happens and next you know, some poor kid gets mauled by some poor dog (whatever the breed) all because the caregiver is too busy to supervise. While I'm not really a fan of small children to begin with, I'd never want to see one hurt. And it really ticks me off that because of someone not willing to properly supervise, the breed will have another bite incident on their record.

I'll be blunt. Either crate the dog, or your child or for bloody sake supervise them. What are you thinking, leaving a two year old and a large dog that you know already has shown some aggression, alone unsupervised?! I don't know who should be removed, the child or the dog. But if you cannot properly parent either of them, one has to go.

And maybe the dog can find a more suitable home where it gets regular exercise, not just once in a blue moon.

Is this for real???

I'm sorry I have kids too, and this is just RUDE. I understand your not liking for small children, but we all were small children at some point, even you, so even saying it, sounds extremely rude. Crate the dog OR YOUR CHILD?!

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post #17 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DobbieLovie View Post
Is this for real???

I'm sorry I have kids too, and this is just RUDE. I understand your not liking for small children, but we all were small children at some point, even you, so even saying it, sounds extremely rude. Crate the dog OR YOUR CHILD?!
Children and dogs are remarkably similar in that their behavior needs to be managed and they need to be taught how to behave appropriately.

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post #18 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GingerGunlock View Post
Children and dogs are remarkably similar in that their behavior needs to be managed and they need to be taught how to behave appropriately.
I COMPLETLY agree on this.... but children DO NOT get crated, how would you ever expect the dobe to give the kid respect and not see him as an inferior or an equal otherwise?....and also wether ppl is "a fan o children" or not is off point and a useless comment.

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post #19 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DobbieLovie View Post
I COMPLETLY agree on this.... but children DO NOT get crated, how would you ever expect the dobe to give the kid respect and not see him as an inferior or an equal otherwise?....and also wether ppl is "a fan o children" or not is off point and a useless comment.

While Burns said "gates, crates", I don't quite think she was suggesting crating the child. Though playpens are a humane equivalent, I suppose.

I'm not sure it matters what the dog thinks of the child individually on the hierarchy. It's ideal for the dog to learn what behavior is verboten, regardless of the target. A two year old cannot adequately comport him or herself around humans; expecting him or her to do so (even supervised) around a dog who has an unfortunate issue with snapping is kind of nerve wracking.

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post #20 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GingerGunlock View Post
While Burns said "gates, crates", I don't quite think she was suggesting crating the child. Though playpens are a humane equivalent, I suppose.

I'm not sure it matters what the dog thinks of the child individually on the hierarchy. It's ideal for the dog to learn what behavior is verboten, regardless of the target. A two year old cannot adequately comport him or herself around humans; expecting him or her to do so (even supervised) around a dog who has an unfortunate issue with snapping is kind of nerve wracking.
I completly agree with everything you say, I agree that kids, specially that young needs to be supervised at all times with a dog

Just the bit of rudeness of the previous comment....no biggie....I just know that if it was MY thread I'd be mad....but thats just me...and my latin blood lol

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post #21 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 03:17 PM
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Not my thread - but I didn't personally take "Crate your dog or crate your child" as rude. Generally when it's used as a verb, I take "crate" to mean crate or gate or pen - to restrain in a specific area. Doesn't have to be a wire or plastic box the same size as the dog (or kid) that is in it. I know someone whose truck is essentially the dog's crate (weather permitting) & the dog goes everywhere with him & isn't crated at home.

I might have been more casual about suggesting that the OP work with the behaviorist on the issue before rehoming if I hadn't read the story & seen the picture about BenVera's mom. Neither you or your son can tell if the dog is going to bite & since your dog doesn't have good bite inhibition, it isn't safe to have both in your house unless they are always separated.
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post #22 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GingerGunlock View Post
While Burns said "gates, crates", I don't quite think she was suggesting crating the child.
I think they were referring to gatehouse's comment, not mine I did certainly mean crating the dog or using gates to separate them.

In response to the OP's response, I don't mean to suggest you are sub-par parents or owners, but I just want to impress on you the gravity of your situation. If you don't completely 100% keep them separated, you are setting yourself up for potential disaster. Which is worse... your dog being separated or your child in the ER with a dog bite to the face?



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post #23 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Burns View Post
I think they were referring to gatehouse's comment, not mine I did certainly mean crating the dog or using gates to separate them.

In response to the OP's response, I don't mean to suggest you are sub-par parents or owners, but I just want to impress on you the gravity of your situation. If you don't completely 100% keep them separated, you are setting yourself up for potential disaster. Which is worse... your dog being separated or your child in the ER with a dog bite to the face?
Yes I was referring to gatehouse's indeed...didnt I even quote it?

"The word for female dog is not dogette"
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post #24 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by smudgeid View Post
Not my thread - but I didn't personally take "Crate your dog or crate your child" as rude. Generally when it's used as a verb, I take "crate" to mean crate or gate or pen - to restrain in a specific area. Doesn't have to be a wire or plastic box the same size as the dog (or kid) that is in it. I know someone whose truck is essentially the dog's crate (weather permitting) & the dog goes everywhere with him & isn't crated at home.

I might have been more casual about suggesting that the OP work with the behaviorist on the issue before rehoming if I hadn't read the story & seen the picture about BenVera's mom. Neither you or your son can tell if the dog is going to bite & since your dog doesn't have good bite inhibition, it isn't safe to have both in your house unless they are always separated.
Kate

Kate: I agree with you, it wasn't the idea, it was the wording, Kids are NOT dogs, and dogs are NOT humans...as much as we tend(and I do say WE because I do too) to humanize them. It just came off a bit rough...Of course I agree on educating the kid, supervising, separating, etc...I have kids, my youngest is 6 years old, and even if my dogs, are pups, I still supervise and separate.

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post #25 of 60 (permalink) Old 11-25-2012, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burns View Post
I think they were referring to gatehouse's comment, not mine I did certainly mean crating the dog or using gates to separate them.

In response to the OP's response, I don't mean to suggest you are sub-par parents or owners, but I just want to impress on you the gravity of your situation. If you don't completely 100% keep them separated, you are setting yourself up for potential disaster. Which is worse... your dog being separated or your child in the ER with a dog bite to the face?
Sorry, Burns, my eye is just drawn to your signature in every thread you post in

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Originally Posted by DobbieLovie View Post
Yes I was referring to gatehouse's indeed...didnt I even quote it?
Yeah, you totally did. That was my mistake, though I guess the rest of what I said is still all right. I'd better make sure I didn't make any phone calls in my state either.....

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