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2nd human bite in 2 years

2014 Views 19 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  selzer
I will start by saying: I am not a GSD owner...but I am a dog lover. Grew up with dogs of all kinds, and have owned an English Bulldog for the last 6 years. I have never been without a dog as my constant companion, as a child and as an adult. My in-laws got a GSD about 3 years ago. One year ago, it bit our cousin (at the in-law's home, when nobody was home- they asked him to stop by and pick something up). The dog owners were visiting us at our home last week, and brought their dog, who they assured me is not aggressive anymore. I have two small kids (one just turned 3, and one is 7 months old). So, even though they have tried to assure me the dog is "no longer aggressive", I always keep the kids at a distance. Wouldn't you know it, that dog bit me in my own backyard. Scared the heck out of me. It is pretty traumatic to see a GSD charging at you, snarling. (Which is why I am here, and why I spent three hours wide awake last night re-visiting that image... thanking God it was me and not my kids... thanking God it wasn't any worse.). It happened so quickly! I was so scared.... I am still in shock. All I did was exit our cottage, walk towards my own back door, and greet the dog. I extended my hand for the dog to smell (even though dog was not close enough to smell it). I said "Hi "dog name" ". And next thing I know, that dog was after me. I turned my back to it, held still, and offered my rump, and prayed someone would come to my rescue. The dog bit me in my bum, not a nip, either- it was definitely a bite- and I have a bruise to prove it. I guess my question is: How can I convince the owners that their dog has issues and needs immediate training? I will NEVER bring my kids anywhere near the dog again. Over the years, the owners have tried to get our kids to help feed the dog, play with the dog, etc... and I have always said NO, since I knew the dog had bitten another family member in the past. I certainly do not want this to get in the way of our relationship- but I cannot risk being anywhere near the dog again.... And especially my children--- what if that had been them instead of me? I think the owners are being selfish, keeping a dog like that. (Or at least tryign to force my kids into being some kind of experiment for it)...PS- They leave it in the car with the windows open, when they visit other people (who know the dog's history, and also do not want it in their homes). Well, there is a lawsuit waiting to happen. What if some idiot reaches in to pet the dog through the car window? That dog would for sure bite again. Any advice on how to talk to the owners without offending them?
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I'm really sorry that the GSD bit you and congratulate you on looking for a solution for the dog and your in-laws. There are great people here who can discuss all kinds of training and behavior modification, but of course the issue is not for YOU to train the dog-but for your in-laws to do so.

May I suggest that you tell them that you found this site and that it is regularly visited by scores of experienced GSD lovers, trainers and that this is the place for them to get information. Your in-laws will definitely be among friends (if they take their dog's situation to heart). You are definitely acting on your love of dogs to try to get help for your in-laws, instead of starting a family feud.

Please get them to come here. They will learn a lot.

Mary Jane
Been there, done that, got 2 T-shirts!!!

Tell the owners to read my thread on Thor HERE.

When they've done that (or at any time you wish) tell them that if the ACO's are called in for a third attack, their dog is dead...period. Thor is now listed as a "potentially dangerous" dog in the county records and he will not be allowed another bite. I don't mean to sound so gruff but it's scary as **** when you are confronted by an attacking dog....just ask George (see my thread).

However, I began obedience training classes, working towards his CGC certificate, which the county has told me 'might'..I repeat, 'might'....allow him to be removed from the dangerous status. Even though we're nowhere near complete (life has been rougher recently than I expected, and we've missed a few classes, but I'm still working the commands outside of training sessions) I am seeing a much more dependable dog now. When he gets a little too antsy about someone jogging by or another dog bouncing around, a firm "Leave it!" works very well.

The most important thing to let them know though is if they care about their dog, he needs their help. They can't have a dog romping around biting for some unknown reason. They need to accept that they have a problem, first and foremost, and they need to take the next logical step (I'd recommend a trainer who can determine what the issues are) and take charge of the situation.
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Hi--sorry you got bitten. If that were my dog I would be sure he wasn't unsupervised and teach him a greeting routine that I would follow every time he met new people. If this is his second bite and the two bites were not close together (in time) then I imagine his owners probably were as surprised as you were. I'm guessing that being in a new situation, by himself, is why he displayed fear and bit you. Not that it's warranted but that's probably why it happened. I hope that your relatives will get help in dealing with his issues. It is possible for a dog like this to be rehabbed.

My gsd, Basu, was a fear biter. He bit once and it surprised the heck out of me! He charged someone and then ran around behind them and bit them. It was a wake up call for me. Basu was a rescue and had been abused and neglected before I adopted him but had not previously shown aggression. I worked intensively with him after that, took him through 3 levels of obedience, built his confidence, taught him a routine for meeting new people and after a few years he really turned around. I never again had him off leash in unfamiliar situations (where he would be unsure of himself) and he looked to me for guidance in how to behave. I studied his behavior until I knew how to predict and interrupt his fearful behavior. I was extremely lucky that I had friends and family who trusted my training abilities and allowed Basu to come into their homes, would come to my home, etc.

Btw, he was always trustworthy around children and family members and friends that he knew. My youngest cousin adored him. And I used counter conditioning and positive reinforcement (with treats and praise) to work him through his issues.
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Thanks for all the suggestions. But I am still uncomfortable in HOW to talk to the dog owners about it. I certainly do not want to offend them- they LOVE that dog SO much--- it is like their little baby. But I do see that they are in denial about the aggression.

I need some suggestions on what to SAY to them, without hurting thier feelings. Especially since they are my in laws. If it were my own parents, i would be very straight forward.

Last time (2 yrs ago) when she bit our cousin, my hubby tried to talk to his dad about it, but his dad got so upset and offended.

There are a lot of emotions going around right now.

We still want to be able to have family visits, etc--- (which always involves overnight stays, as we live hundreds of miles apart). I just need it to be known that the dog is not welcome around my kids....

I do not think there is ANY way to say that without sounding like a human B****!

Maybe just pointing them to this forum would do the trick (as Mary Jane suggested!) ?
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I am no expert, but it does not sound like this dog is beyond help. I am not saying you should work with it, and yes, it certainly is a liability, but a three year old dog bit you in the bum and no blood, it sounds like he held up conciderably. I am not minimizing, but I have had some pretty serious bloody wounds that took a long time to heal that were from GSDs when fighting with eachother and getting in the middle. So these were not even human-aggressive bites (two separate incidents, two separate bites, two different dogs).

If a GSD was extremely aggressive, you would have bites on your arms, and possibly your face. This sounds almost like more of a warning.

I also get the impression that you look at the dog trying to figure out if he is ok. Most people try to read the eyes to see if it is safe. This is a big mistake because it is a challenge. If the dog smells fear on you on top of a challenge, then he might step up.

My feeling about people putting their hands in my car window to "pet the dog", they get what they deserve. However, my dogs are crated in my car so someone would have to get their finger through the crate bars and my dogs will warn them first. By barking and or growling.

With all of that you have every right to keep your children away from their dog. Espesially since the dog bit you. You can tell your family that the dog has to be crated in the basement or kenneled in the yard when you and your children are there, or kenneled at a kennel, or you will not visit. They may say "fine" and not offer to do it, that is something you have to work out.

You definitely have a valid beef. Your job is to protect your kids.
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I agree with everything posted above, with an addition. I will never offer my hand to a dog. I make no eye contact, ignore and let the dog sniff me. I am sorry this happened to you and I hope that by posting here things can come out positive for the dog and everyone involved.
I can certainly sympathize with your predicament..I don't think the dog is beyond help,,however, and unfortunately,,your in laws may be ...It sounds like you said, they are in denial..Sorry to say,,some people never come around when it comes to their cherished pets.:((

I don't think you should be the one to bring the subject up,,I'm assuming they are your husband's family? He should be the one to speak them..After this incident with YOU,,I to would never allow that dog around my kids and this is what your husband needs to address..Maybe he could suggest muzzling the dog IF they bring the dog with them, otherwise it wouldn't be on my property.

It IS a liability waiting to happen, maybe he could also explain that to them..For gosh sakes, if that dog bit the wrong person, (or did more damage) they could lose everything they own !

It is definately a touchy situation especially when it involves "inlaws"..Again, I would have your husband speak to them vs you being the 'bad guy' so to speak.

Just a few ideas.
good luck
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Perhaps this is unfortunate, but the problem is not yours. I remember the first time my dog got aggressive toward someone. My breeder actually said, if Timber is aggressive, that is totally unacceptable and it is your fault. So I hired a specialist and Timber is much better, and would never be aggressive toward a family member.

If your in-laws cannot accept the fact that their dog has bitten and his hostile toward some folks that is their problem.

Being Type A, be direct. It sounds like you are far too concerned about offending your in-laws, despite the fact that their dog is the problem.

I do not want to offend them, why did you say that.

I need to know some things to say to them without hurting their feeling, why?

Perhaps your wife could be more helpful, but if the dog ever hurt any of your kids, you would never forget it.

I am a GSD owner, actually I now have three. But if any of my dogs is ever aggressive toward anyone, their behavior is cut off fast, and I am responsible for their reactions --- no one else.
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This is first and foremost something you and your spouse need to work on together. You do not want the dog around your kids, from the sound of it, you do not want to be around the dog. This is something you and your partner need to agree on first, then deal with how to tell in in laws that their dog isn't welcome.

I know it was frightening but the "bite" itself sounds a bit tentative to me. If a GSD intends to bite, you will have a puncture wound and blood on your butt, not just a bruise.
Thanks again everyone. I am glad I have not sent my in laws some ranting email... I usually just speak my mind- and it can tend to get me in trouble. I needed some time to think this through. And it is definitely still haunting me....

Though the dog did not puncture my skin--- I have a very ample rear-end.... If it had been my arm, there would definitely be a puncture/open wound...
... The only reason the dog backed down, is because the owner happened to be RIGHT by the door, and came out immediately when she heard the nasty growling.... The dog let go of me when she called her off. Like I said, it all happened very quickly.

But, still, just the image in my head of that snarling dog lunging at me.... I can't seem to shake it. I guess it is bugging me out. Especially since I am such a dog-person! I know how to 'act' around dogs.... (Another story, for another time, but I myself am the prior owner of an aggressive-incurable-rescue-dog, who was euthanized...So I know what it's all about. That was before I had human babies of my own, and I still recognized it was a lawsuit waiting to happen, after he lunged at and bit a disabled man.)

I just wish they would accept that their dog needs help.

I will not say anything to the inlaws for now. I have discussed it with my hubby. He and I both agree we will stay away from their dog. We will not visit their home, and they are no longer welcome to bring their dog into ours. It sucks- because we really enjoy their company.

For the record, I did not make any eye contact with the dog. I simply extended my hand after glancing in her direction.... But I see now that was a mistake. Too little, too late.

On another note: The inlaws were always trying to tell my (then 2 year old) daughter... "Just don't touch her head..." etc etc. Laying down 'rules' of how she should or should not behave around their pet. Sorry But kids do not understand rules like that- especially when our own family dog pretty much lets her lay all over her any time she wants to. I have tried explaining to my child, "never approach a strange dog" ... or if she tries to say hi to a dog we do not know, I tell her why she cannot do that. But to say that she cannot touch a dog on the head, that her own grandma is encouraging her to touch... (experimenting with).... it is nutty to me.

In any case- no dog has ever reacted to me like that, and I do know for sure the dog has had several prior incidents under her belt (not necessarily biting, but several snarling, charging, lunging episodes, that did not escalate, simply because the owners were right there with her).

But just try to imagine being the person who is lunged/charged or snarled at by such an animal. It is truly frightening! I was most definitely scared. And dogs smell fear- so what if? What if the owner had not been there IMMEDIATELY? I hate to think. Again, I am just thankful it was me, and not my child. I really fear what might have been if it had been her and not me.

But all is well.... except for the future relationship issues with my inlaws

Thx again for the advice and for the couch-talk- time....
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Believe me, I know exactly how scary it is to be charged by an angry, aggressive, snarling dog, it's the worst thing, and thankfully my old American line GSD was there and protected me until I could get us both safely away from that dog. You are comepletely in the right in preventing that dog from being around your kids, or even you and your husband for that matter. Some people might disagree with me on this, but some people aren't meant to have GSD's or other dogs of the sort. This stage of denial your inlaws are going through could cause plenty more incidents, which could cause a lawsuit, and/or have the dog put to sleep. The sad thing is, is that this dog could be rehabilitated if in the right hands. Express to your inlaws your concerns, and how this is not just a concern for yourself and your family, but a concern for them as well. If you do that, they should see that you're trying to reach out and protect them and the dog.
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Youir response and comments speak for themselves. In my case, with Timber, I was on the other end. He attacked a person who suprised us at night. I was taking him from his cage, about ready to lease him and this guy walks by. Timber takes off and grabs him by the rear. I was upset with myself, felt bad for the guy, and have tried to correct this situation.

You mentioned a two year old daughter. My dog is good around kids, but under no circumstances will I let any child's face get close to Timber's. Just one accident, results in a kid being scared forlife, and the dog being put down.
I agree with that. It is not worth the risk. However, when children ask me nicely to pet my dog, and I have one with me that I feel comfortable with around children, I always explain to the child how to pet the dog, and that includes not going up over the dog's head to pat it on the top of the head.

As my pups get to be seven or eight months old, they will see the hand that is coming out of nowhere and open their mouths and take the hand to decide what it is flying around up there. They do not do this aggressively, it is actually rather gentle. However a child and or a hyper-sensitive adult might have a complete cow about this. And frankly, I am not up to dealing with it. So if I do not trust the child, the parent, and the dog, then I do not allow the petting.

GSD Bite, if the owner was right there, then you need do no confrontation or make any excuses. If you want to invite them to something, put a PS on the invitation. Be frank, "I am afraid of your dog so please do not bring him." Why say anything else?

If they ask why you will not come over anymore, say that you are afraid of their dog. It is possible that this is the very wake-up call they need to understand that their dog is dangerous.

Furthermore, this is not a constraint that is difficult on the owners of the dog. At my little party, my brother paused before he opened the door to my house to ask if I had any dogs running around in there, like I leave a pack run around together when people are coming over. Whatever. I had one girl out, and told her to go downstairs, which is through a babygate and one step into the sun room, and everyone was satisfied. The dogs did not mind being in their places. My brother felt secure.

If your in-laws set up a place for the dog in the basement, garage or back yard, and put the dog there while you are over, then you need only ensure that your kids do not persue the dog in its place. Everyone can be very happy. Friendship and family relationships need not be broken.

If these people cannot be accommadating in this respect, it is better to sever the relationship than to allow yourself or your children to be injured.
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I certainly agree that the owners of thes GSD are being very irresponsible and also probably in denial.

Perhaps you could suggest that if you or your children were ever around the dog again that it needs to be muzzled. It sounds to me thay have no interest in actually working with this dog (which it deserves), so muzzling may be the only option here.
While muzzles are effective in many cases, I think, if there needs to be continued contact with these family members, I would insist on their dog being securely restrained elsewhere, rather than resort to muzzles alone. A muzzled dog rushing a human of any age is frightening in itself, let alone the possibility of a nip or a more serious bite if the muzzle fails.

Your children and your entire family's safety ranks well above the hurt feelings of these people, especially if they are unwilling to see a problem, let alone try to find the means to fix it. The onus is on you to protect your family and the onus is on them to safeguard their dog even if it is for the dog's sake as it seems they are not considering the wellbeing of other family members.
If you are coming from a distance, and planning on spending more than an hour or two, then a muzzle would be a hard sell on the owners of the dog.

The best bet for such owners is to kennel the dog at a boarding establishment for the duration of your visit. We do not all have that kind of money, but the dog will be safe, might get a nice grooming before it comes home, you will be safe, your kids will be safe, and the dog will not be a complete nuisance as some dogs are that are not accustomed to being shut up.
Thanks again everyone- I really appreciate all the advice.

I finally did email the owner (MIL) and I "think" she is coming around. I presented it in a manner that seems I am concerned for her dog/dog's future. that the dog could probably be helped with the right training. But I made it clear I am scared of her dog, and do not wish to be around it again (unless I am confident the training works)

MIL's first reaction was that it is normal behavior for a dog.... And that the dog's behavior is her (the person's) fault. Not sure I agree with that. She also basically told me I need to mind my own business, and not worry about other people her dog has scared or bitten... just focus my energy on myself ,and focus on me getting over being afraid of her dog. I had to laugh at that. Sometimes she is a little clueless/in denial still.

But she did mention that they will be putting the dog in some training classes. And installing some chain link dog run in their back yard.

I wonder, when you have an aggressive dog, will kennels even take them, should she choose to continue traveling with her?

MIL also seems to try to continue to show me how good the dog is like "When so and so comes over, she is perfectly fine" or..... "She would never do that if she is on leash with me" ....or..... you get the point.

So while I "think" she is coming around/starting to see th elight, I think she has a ways to go!
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Honestly,,it doesn't sound like she's seeing the light to me.

It is NOT normal behavior for a dog, telling you to mind your own business and get over YOUR fear of her dog??

I'm glad she's putting the dog into training classes, but hey it sounds good, I'd want to see the results before my vote was cast ..

I'm sure it depends on the kennel as to whether they will take the dog or not.

I would still not let the dog on my property without a muzzle. She should respect the fact that its YOUR home, and you have a fear of the dog, and stop making excuses for bad behavior, not belittle you for your fears which are pretty justified in my opinion.

I wonder how she would like it, if your dog did this to her?
Good luck
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Different people are different. I agree that you should not worry about other people getting bitten by this dog. That is your MIL's concern, it is really not yours. It is all of ours as it is a GSD and when they bite something the whole fancy takes a hit, but personally, that is your MIL's business.

Your concern is you and your children and whether or not you feel safe or feel like your kids are safe around her dog. You do not.

Glad she is putting in a run. That can help as they can put the dog there during your visits.

Your MIL is insensitive concerning your encounter with the dog. Just as I was insensitive when my sister got nailed giving the dog some steak. Neither incident broke the skin, but yours seems a bit more aggressive than the accidental treat snatch. It is hard for people to get it through their heads that these are strong, powerful animals that need leadership and training.

Good luck. It sounds like a few positive steps have been taken.
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