Child Bitten by Family Dog
By: Pam Taylor
Not a headline one wants to read in the paper or hear on the news. Within the past several days, I have counseled two owners of male Doberman Pinschers (ages 3 ½ and 4 ½ years old, one neutered and one not), whose dog bit a child (ages 6 and 10) on the face (each needed several stitches) and as a result will be euthanized after the required 10 day holding period. This “quarantine,” during which time ownership of the dog may not be transferred, is required by state law, even though these dogs are current on rabies inoculations. While euthanasia is not mandatory, loss of confidence in the dog and/or threat of cancellation of homeowner’s insurance can influence the outcome.
Why did this happen? In each case, a loved and trusted family pet was left unsupervised with a child visiting the household. My dog would not have done this . . . would yours, under these circumstances?
Let’s be “Mr. Dobie” for a moment: I have a wonderful home and have settled in for a couple of years of solid, relatively uneventful adulthood. I’m adjusted and happy and my folks feel safe when I let it be known I’m possessive of my turf. My owners think I’m wonderful; they love and coddle me. Usually I can have my way, and I feel good about my place in the family, my home, my territory.
ay, this kid came to play at my house. I met him rather casually, without much if any formal introduction. It seemed he couldn’t tell I didn’t want to be bothered. He kept trying to pet and hug me. I guess he thought I was wonderful, too. I really just wanted to be left alone, so finally, becoming irritated, I gave a warning growl and a nip to the nearest part of the child’s body, his face. I could have been much more physical had it not been a first warning, but even this “comment” aroused utter hysteria, with people rushing about and taking the kid away quickly. Maybe I’ll get more respect for my space now that I’ve told them the rules. This is the first time I’ve laid my teeth on a human and it sure works!
Again, why did this happen? And how could it have been prevented? Here are some thoughts.
Doberman ownership is a real responsibility! Remember that the Doberman Pinscher is a working dog, a home and hearth protector. Teach him what is appropriate. Set and maintain household rules with consistency. Monitor his behavior and correct, quickly and kindly, whenever needed. You’ll have a pet who will make you proud, and who will look to you, his master, for leadership.
Remember, your Doberman needs
Bottom line: Learn how to be your dog’s boss effectively. It has been said that some Dobermans are smarter than their owners. Unfortunately, the dog pays the price when the owner fails to provide intelligent, responsible leadership.
Let us know if you have questions. We don’t have all the answers, but we’ll help you locate a training professional who can help your dog to be a better citizen and the two of you to be a better team.
Many years ago the two bite experiences described caused me to write this article. To this day, we receive calls about similar situations all too frequently, and so I was compelled to share this information. The two dogs who inspired this writing were males, but a female could respond in the same manner. Whatever the gender of your dog, the stated suggestions apply.