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Question
Posted by: Janine | 2011/11/07

Child bitten

I have a 20 month old daughter. We spent the weekend with my inlaws and they have a sausage dog. The dog was all over my daughter the whole weekend, following her around, moaning when she''s near her, and generally just annoying. This bothered us and we ended up locking the dog away in a separate room. Needless to say the dog managed to get out and somehow, and during the course of the morning my daughter started screaming. We rushed into her playroom and she was bleeding from her cheek. The sausage dog and 2 other chow chows were around her. We took her to hospital and one of the teeth litearally missed her eye by about 3mm. The wounds were treated and she is recovering well.

It is obvious that it was not one of the chows that bit her, due to the size of the bites.

My concern is, we never saw the " attack" , so we cannot prove that it was the sausage dog. We all know it was this dog but unfortunately the owner is sticking to the story that it could have been any of the other dogs too. We measured the bites and it''s clear that it wasnt. So now there is no recourse for what has happened because nobody saw it happen, this mut just gets away with it. I was always taught that if a dog bites a human then it must be dealt with... especially when it comes to children!!!

This incident has now made us not want to visit family again - yet they refuse to believe it was their dog. How healthy is it for this dog to still be wandering around if we are expected to visit their regularly? Shouldnt the owner have some sort of responsibility here?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDog Behaviour Expert

Hi Janine, what a horrible thing to happen! I am not sure what the legal resources are, you would have to check with a lawyer. On this side why dont you check out the legal cyber help on this site, it would be a good starting point.
You are totally correct that a situation such as this needs to be dealt with - a professional is required to come in and help the family sort out this situation, and as soon as possible. You can refer them to www.animal-behaviour.org.za for a qualified behaviourist in their area.
Where you are concerned, if you visit the family again, make 100% sure that the dogs are locked up with no way of gaining access to the child. If they do not agree to this (and I would inspect the area locked up myself), then just dont go there - much safer!
Also, I would never leave a child with a dog unsupervised, especially a child this young with a dog that could present a problem. When you are visiting, keep her with you. Thanks Scotty

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Our users say:
Posted by: scotty | 2011/11/08

Hi guys, yes there are some dogs that do not like children, but in situations like this it is very important that a professional be called in to rectify the current interaction with the dogs and place the owners (and child) higher in the combined human/canine pack hierarchy. With a dog like this it is a neceissity that the owner has complete control and learns to recognize any signs of possible reactive behaviiour. The majority of times that isolated bites occur is either due to teasing or the dog is actually frightened, and if cornered will lash out if it feels threatened. The owner will be trained as to how a child should interact with a dog and the child must never be left with a dog unsupervised. The dog will be assessed as to whether this was an isolated incident (perhaps due to teasing, fear etc, even unintentionally), or if he dog poses a serious risk. If the situation is seen to be isolated the further work would be done on desensitizing the dog to children. The majority of isolated bites that do occur are normally due to a lack of understanding of canine body language, lack of human/canine hierarchy and the child not being taught from an early age what not to do and how to interact with a dog, rather than from an aggressive dogs. As suggested initially, I feel it is absolutely necessary that the owners of this dog consult a professional. Thks Scotty

Reply to scotty
Posted by: Nini | 2011/11/07

No offence but I find your response a little harsh. My daughter is 20 months old, she cannot reach a door handle, let alone get ourside to free the dog from a completely different building. How the dog got out is irrelevant, and that was not my question.

What I do agree with in your post though is that I think that this dog is not used to children, as it has never really been exposed to kids. Whether my daughter did something to the dog or not is also irrelevant, she''s a toddler. When we arrived and saw the dog''s behavior towards the child, then everybody''s alarm bells went off, and that is why we decided to eventually lock the dog away.

Yes I AM grateful that its nothing more serious than what it is, as it could have been worse! I have worked in the Insurance Industry for years, and I too have dealt with my fair share of incidents reagardling dog bites. If a dog is teazed or hurt then biting is expected. But if the dog''s nature is to be defensive and threrefore likely to attack, that is a raise for concern.

But yes, this was not our house, we cannot expect anything to happen to the dog, and of course this is the dog''s home. I await Scotty''s response.

Reply to Nini
Posted by: Karmen | 2011/11/07

Some dogs do not like children and that is that. Either a child has done something to the dog before and now it associates ALL children to that incident, or it was never introduced to children and doesn’ t know what they are. Is it not possible that your daughter or any other children went and opened the door for the dog? I mean, dogs don’ t get out of closed rooms by themselves.

I work for a reconstructive surgeon and there are plenty of dig bites cases with children- practically every Monday when I come in there are files for children who had been bitten by dogs over the weekend. My grandmothers dog never liked me. My cousins dog was a vicious doggy because my cousins actually mistreated him- I got bitten by him once. It seems that you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. Yes, the bit was close to her eye but no permanent damage was done- be grateful for that.

It happened in THEIR house- it’ s not like the dog ran out the fence and attacked random people and it’ s not like it is a pitbull or something. I had a sausage dog and they are very lovable, very gentle dogs in general. This was most likely an isolated incident- are you sure your daughter never did anything to the dog before? You say it’ s family so I assume you’ ve been there before and nothing happened before, so something must have happened either the last time or with a different child at a different time.

The way you say that a dog “ must be dealt with”  is a bit ominous- you mean the dog must be put down? That’ s completely unnecessary in my eyes- after all, it is THEIR dog. If it bothers you so much, get them to pay for the medical expenses and move on. Don’ t visit them but let them visit you. If this is the first and only incident with the dog, then just move on. It is perfectly healthy for them to have the dog around.

Reply to Karmen
Posted by: Dog Behaviour Expert | 2011/11/07

Hi Janine, what a horrible thing to happen! I am not sure what the legal resources are, you would have to check with a lawyer. On this side why dont you check out the legal cyber help on this site, it would be a good starting point.
You are totally correct that a situation such as this needs to be dealt with - a professional is required to come in and help the family sort out this situation, and as soon as possible. You can refer them to www.animal-behaviour.org.za for a qualified behaviourist in their area.
Where you are concerned, if you visit the family again, make 100% sure that the dogs are locked up with no way of gaining access to the child. If they do not agree to this (and I would inspect the area locked up myself), then just dont go there - much safer!
Also, I would never leave a child with a dog unsupervised, especially a child this young with a dog that could present a problem. When you are visiting, keep her with you. Thanks Scotty

Reply to Dog Behaviour Expert

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