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Old 01-26-2013, 09:35 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Child biting dog

Hello I'm new to this forum. I have a question not about a GSD but about a Red Heeler dog. My sister has a RHD she is approx 18 months old. She is very nice and loving to me and certain other people but she has now bit my 4 year old 2 times. The first time she broke skin and left bruises on her legs and the second time she went for her face but luckily had a muzzle on. (After the first biting incident I insisted she wear a muzzle around kids.) She has gone after my two young nieces and 5 year old nephew also. I understand kids can be rough with dogs but this one hasn't been provoked by any of these kids. She just seems to lung after them and they aren't even in the same room or near her. She no longer is aloud near any children in the family. She also has bit my brother in law and my adult nephew. My sister has started taking her to training classes after I told her she needs to or she will have to get rid of this dog or put her down. I am so afraid she may permanently harm one of the children.
Well anyway she did let the trainer know that she does not like kids and certain men and has gone after them on more than one occasion. The trainer told her she may not be able to be trained to like kids ever. That some dogs just don't like kids and never will. I didn't like this answer I feel any dog especially being young still can be trained to like or behave around children.
My sister lives with my parents and I don't want to take my daughter to their house in fear the dog may bite her face and rip it open or worse. I hate that I don't feel safe taking my daughter to see her grandparents or let her sleep over with them but I have to think of my daughter's safety first.
Thank you for letting me rant about this. I don't know who to turn to for advise. I hope I can get some here.


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Old 01-26-2013, 09:39 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think you are right to set groundrules concerning the dog. I would talk with your parents as well-maybe all sit down and come up with solutions. A dog that bites is like a loaded gun and provisions need to be clearly made as accidents can still happen.

I would check with user Rowdy Dogs on the forum as she has experience with the breed and may have some useful insights. I believe nipping is part of how cattle dogs work but it is certainly not acceptable with people.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaniRo View Post
I didn't like this answer I feel any dog especially being young still can be trained to like or behave around children.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to teach a dog to LIKE something they really don't.

You can work on training a dog to behave around things they do not like but I wouldn't trust a dog that has bitten that many people (adults and children), regardless of how much training they have been through.

I would recommend insisting that the dog is crated, in a separate room, when your children are visiting.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I can understand why you wouldn't like the trainer's answer, but it is true. Not even people can be "trained" to like something they don't. I would keep my children away from this dog.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Child biting dog

Yes the dog is crated in a separate room with the door closed while children are in the house. I will never trust this dog ever!! Also the kids are put in a room with the door closed while the dog is let outside. In all the years of having dogs including when I was a kid I have never encountered a dog like her. So having one around now just seems awful. I know this breed lives about 15 years so it seems like a looooong time to have to deal with this behavior.


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Old 01-26-2013, 12:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Nipping and mouthiness is definitely something that cattle dogs are known for. Biting is a really common problem in the breed as a result. I would suspect, just from knowing the breed (since there could be a lot of factors going on, I can't say for sure of course), that this is aggressive herding behavior rather than attempts to harm. Heelers are notoriously difficult to have around small children because they have extremely strong herding drive that kids tend to trigger, and they also have an aggressive herding style unlike some other herding breeds that may have more bite inhibition and a more "hands off" style. It doesn't take that hard of a bite to break skin and leave bruises, especially on a child. Heelers are also known for their "dog police" role--they tend to take it upon themselves to control and police the behavior of everyone in the house if not trained properly. It could also be that the dog is biting out of annoyance or as a correction for the kids, in its self-appointed role as police. Those are the two most common problems I've seen, rather than true aggression.

edit: sorry, my own red heeler was trying to get me to play and hit 'reply' for me.

I think you're right to insist on muzzling and not let kids around the dog. Even if it isn't aggressive behavior (in the sense of the dog actually trying to harm kids), this is a big problem and I'm sure very traumatic for the children. One of the biggest rules responsible owners follow with herding breeds is never to let them herd or nip people. Your sister has screwed up here by letting it escalate to this point.

I do think the trainer's statement is true. Some dogs don't like kids, and that can't really be trained out (although a combination of proper management and desensitization can get the dog to tolerate kids if they're only visiting). However, if this is a herding or policing issue, then the dog can definitely learn not to do it. However, IME it is extremely important that the dog is given another job. These drives tend to be very strong in heelers, and if they're not given a job, they'll find one for themselves--and I can guarantee it won't be one you like.

That's all I really have time to write at the moment as I've got a training to head off to, but I'll try to either post again later or PM you some more information. Just wanted to confirm that this isn't an uncommon problem in the breed (I did ACD rescue for years and many of our dogs came in because of issues like this), that there is a lot you can do to fix it although there are never any guarantees with animals, and that you're right to be taking it seriously.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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And just to add, to be clear on terminology: ACD stands for Australian Cattle Dog, which is the formal name for red and blue heelers. All the same breed, just a few different terms for them.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:57 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Child biting dog

Thank you rowdydogs I appreciate your help with this topic. I have been trying to read up on this breed and it does say not good with small children. I asked my sister if she knew this before she bought her knowing there would be many kids around my parents house and she said she did. I just hope her going to training classes helps some with the situation. I want my parents to be with my children as much as possible. I am just very leery of this pup.


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Old 01-26-2013, 01:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Child biting dog

I don't want my relationship with my sister to be strained over this but her knowing this about the breed and not training her correctly from the get go makes me angry with her. The only reason she has taken her to training now is because I insisted it.
I want to like this dog because she loves me to death when I'm at my parents but I can't help but remember her biting my daughter. I feel my sister got to much if a working breed she can handle.


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Old 01-26-2013, 01:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Nipping and mouthiness is definitely something that cattle dogs are known for. Biting is a really common problem in the breed as a result.
This. I'd never trust a heeler around small kids unless raised around them from a puppy up, and even then, you're going to see nipping, biting, herding behavior. It's instinct. It's like trying to teach a Labrador to stop fetching things, or a Hound to stop using his nose to hunt rabbits.

Use a muzzle, separate and always supervise when the dog is loose with them. In fact, I'd never let the dog loose with them, get a leash and use the leash or the dog isn't with them, period.
The dog will bite them. Someone has to take control or it will continue. If it isn't your sister or parents, it has to be you.
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