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Old 11-26-2012, 12:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Agression in my yard!

Hi,

I have a 2 year old GSD and recently my young son (4) was riding his car in the driveway and I let the dog out to go to the bathroom. The dog was socialized when he was a puppy and has not showed any aggressive tendencies. The neighbors on both sides of the house have been out in their yards and he has never reacted aggressively towards them or even towards the kids across the street of dogs and people walking past the house. As the dog was going to the bathroom in his normal area there were people in the yard two house down and a boy riding his bike past the house and a 11 year old chasing the boy on the bike. The 11 year old saw us in the driveway and he began to run up the driveway and was about 30' feet up the driveway when the dog ran up to him and began barking. The boy turned to run away and the dog bit him on the elbow and then followed him into the street where the boy fell onto his back. The dog did not bite him again and when I called him he came back to me. The dog is only allowed in the yard without a leash when he is being exercised in the back yard (chasing a ball) and the rest of the time he is in the house. Is this the dog's aggressive nature, my fault for not having him leashed, or the boys for entering our yard?

Thanks
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If nothing is fenced it may be a tricky one...it's hard to say.
Are you being charged with having a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous?
Is animal control involved?
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Since none of us were there it would be hard to say whether your dog is aggressive, or if prey drive took over and he wasn't thinking or if he viewed the child as a threat to your toddler.

But, as a parent, I would be fuming if my 11 year old was attacked. Was skin broken? Was it a bite or a nip? Was medical attention required? Was animal control involved? I would invest in a fence to keep your dog in the yard and safe from further incidents and to protect the kids...because 11 yr old boys do stupid things on regular occasions. I'm sure I have ER bills still around somewhere from when mine was that age.

Legally, it will depend on what the conditions were and what your local laws are. They vary per state and even can vary per county.
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Old 11-27-2012, 11:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the responses. The animal enforcement officer came to the house right after the incident and the Health Department was notified. I quarantined the dog for 10 days and when the animal enforcement officer came back he issued a citation for not having control of the dog and said that the father of the boy wanted me cited. He said that I should ask for a hearing and that the fine was a sliding fine between $100 and $500. The boy had one small puncture wound on the elbow and the father said that he did not need to go to the hospital and that the mother who was a nurse treated him at home. He said there was some puss that they squeezed out and that it was healing but he did not know if there would be a scar.

This dog has never bit anyone that has been at the house and has never even growled at visitors. Once in awhile he will bark at someone that comes to the door but for the most part he just wants to be petted.
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Old 11-28-2012, 12:01 AM   #5 (permalink)
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A lot of children have been bitten by dogs. My wife is one of them, afraid of GSDs until we got our first. Prey drive is an instinct, and is stronger in some dogs than others.

I would say you've been warned about your dog's possibilities, and it's up to you to control the environment so it doesn't happen again.
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Old 11-28-2012, 12:46 AM   #6 (permalink)
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That which runs must be chased. A dog is only a dog. It is up to us to ensure the neighborhood is safe from our dogs.

An eleven year old kid should know better than to run up a neighbor's drive when their dog is loose. But the fact of the matter is, the kid was being a kid. Kids do not always think or notice everything they should. It is up to us to protect children. If a child had to lift a latch and open a gate to cut through your yard, or climb your fence, then I would say the kid was at fault. No child should be bitten for stepping on a bit of grass or running up a driveway.

It sounds like a very unfortunate incident. Your dog is not vicious. If he was vicious the child would have gone to the ER. Your dog acted like a GSD in that it neutralized the threat and bit only once. It did not maul the boy, or bite several times. I would hope my dogs would not have done this, but I think that there are circumstances where a dog might make a bad decision, and I say that without any animosity toward the dog. It was an accident, maybe foreseeable, maybe not.

The good news is that now you can 100% prevent anything of the kind from ever happening again.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Not having a physical fence, this really concerns me. Spirit is very territorial ... though I have to clarify, he has never bitten anyone or given any indication that he has been close to biting. He just barks his fool head off if there's activity beyond his immediate perimeter.

What would he do if an unknown child came bounding into our yard? I think he would just bark, at a distance. But who knows, really He's 8 months old now.

Is there something I should be doing as far as training or desensitizing to feel more confident about his safety, as well as others?
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Old 11-28-2012, 12:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Please, always have your dog on the leash! I've met only two GSDs who could be walked without a leash and be absolutely trustworthy (and they were not even obedience trained!!!).
I would go to the neighbors and talk to them what can be done to prevent this kind of accident in the future (take a bottle of wine or flowers). Do NOT inform your house insurance about the incident, because they will cancel you or ask to get rid of the dog. I know, I was in your shoes...now, I'm "paranoic".
Good Luck!
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