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My 5 Year Old Grey Attacked/bit Our Babysitters Face


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Our longtime sitter was just attacked by our greyhound over the weekend. We took her to the hospital to get stitches, fortunately the bite missed her eye by a few inches or there would have been more serious damage. We are all shaken up by this and dont know what to do. He was not laying in his bed, but was laying on the carpet, and she was picking up the kids toys/tidying up the house a bit, and he was awake... she picked up a toy near him and he lunged forward and bit her in the face.

 

HE has shown his teeth if you pet him when he is awake on his bed, but I understand that's his space and more about territory. But to attach an adult when he is awake on the carpet makes me not trust him at all anymore.

 

My husband wants to get rid of the dog immediately and does not want to risk anyone else getting bitten. Im at a loss right now, the dog has been great with our kids and is usually so affectionate. And our babysitter has known him a long time and feeds him sometimes, and loves dogs.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Well I could go on about how you can work with your hound. I could ask a lot of questions about the situation and past behavior. BUT, since your husband does not want to look at the situation and just wants to get rid of the dog, then call the adoption group that you got him from and tell them you need to relinquish the hound to them. Also, in order to keep your hound from becoming possibly euthanized, please contact the Lexus project IMMEDIATELY: http://www.thelexusproject.org/content/origin-lexus-project

 

I am assuming though that you are in the USA. If you are not, you can still contact the Lexus project, but they will probably direct you to someone local.

 

I am glad that the sitter is ok, now you need to protect your hound from the authorities.

Chad

Edited by Greyt_dog_lover
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There is no guarantee that the hound was awake. Many, including my own sometime sleep with eyes open. It honestly sounds like the hound was startled, otherwise there would have been a warning growl like you've sen in the past. As someone who has been bitten by a hound that was sleep startled, I understand the frustration you are feeling, the fear, as well as your husband's view. Sleep startle is easily managed, but some households, especially with children may not be in a position to deal with it.

 

Assuming you are in the states, there has probably been a dog bite report generated by the medical facility and Animal Control may show up at your door. Do not relinquish your hound to them. Call your adoption group now for assistance.. You should also check out the site of the Lexus Project above so you are prepared to deal with the authorities, and contact them if needed. You, as the owner must contact them. They cannot do anything if someone else contacts them on your behalf, The Lexus Project must hear from the owner in order to provide any assistance.

 

If you do not have an adoption group to help, please post your city and state so that someone here can help you locate a local resource to help you and your hound.

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Camp Broodie. The current home of Mark Kay Mark Jack, and Diva Astar Dashindiva.   Always missing my boy Rocket Hi Noon Rocket,  Allie  Phoenix Dynamite, Kate Miss Kate, Starz Under Da Starz, and Petunia MW Neptunia.

 

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thank you for the replies. that's true, I do know they sleep with eyes open sometimes, thank you for reminding me. And not being here I can't really say what happened for sure other than from the sitters own words. I wanted to gather as much info as I can so I can make a better decision on what to do... it's very sad to me and he is usually a very sweet dog. I am dedicated to this dog and want to what's best for all of us in the family. My husband is now fearful one of the kids could have or will be bitten, and could be rather serious- since he bit an adult on the face that needed stitches. And I have to admit my first reaction is the same fear, but I also dont take surrendering a dog lightly. I have left a message with our adoption group and get their advice as well. I will not surrender him to Animal Care and Control if they did show up at my door!

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I urge you to follow the advice above, and offer this regarding the incident:

 

What happened was most likely not aggression. A true aggressive bite from an established dog in an established household of someone he knows well would be rare. You already know that he resource guards and has a fairly well-developed sleep startle reflex. He could have been sleeping/dozing with his eyes open - lots of dogs do this. Or he could have been resource guarding the toys - viewing them as his or in his space.

 

These *are* issues that can be dealt with, but, as Chad said, if you no longer can view the dog objectively, it's in everyone's best interest to return the dog sooner rather than later. In the meantime, you can give yourself some security by having him waer his basket muzzle around the house.

 

I'm sorry that your babysitter was hurt and that you are having to deal with the aftermath.

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I meant to add the following in my post above:

 

When our hound bit due to sleep startle, the Animal Control Officer completely understood what sleep startle was, and based on the description of the incident, allowed us to home quarantine. Once she met him and realized that the incident was an accident because we thought he was awake, there was no further issue other than doing the home quarantine.

 

We don't allow anyone to pet him unless he's standing up. We don't reach down beside him no matter where he's laying. A few simple rules like this strictly enforced can keep everyone safe, especially if you kids and/or visitors are at an age where they can understand this and follow the rule. We have one of the sweetest hounds in the world, but we follow those rules religiously in order to keep another incident from happening. There are people who have been able to train their hounds in a way to eliminate the startle, but I'm not sure I would still trust 100% after such training. I prefer to follow the "only pet when standing" rule.

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Camp Broodie. The current home of Mark Kay Mark Jack, and Diva Astar Dashindiva.   Always missing my boy Rocket Hi Noon Rocket,  Allie  Phoenix Dynamite, Kate Miss Kate, Starz Under Da Starz, and Petunia MW Neptunia.

 

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Regardless of whether he was awake or asleep, a single snap/bite like this is not an attack, but a reactive response to something that startled or scared him. Dogs feel the most vulnerable when they are lying down. Even if he was awake, he might not have been paying attention, and the sitter 'suddenly' appearing near him, perhaps partly leaning over or toward him as she went to pick up a toy, just startled him. Like someone coming up next to or behind you unexpectedly, and you jump and reflexively swing out an arm in defense, perhaps accidentally hitting your friend who was trying to play a joke on you.

 

Obviously, there is risk of something like this happening again, especially without knowing the full circumstances of this particular incident. And as others have said, if you or your husband are just not comfortable having him in the home anymore, it would be best to return him to the group. Working with a dog who has a bite history takes commitment and understanding, and often long term management. He may always be a dog you need to approach cautiously when he's lying down. It doesn't matter if he's on a dog bed or not - if he's lying down, he's resting and needs his space.

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You are getting some excellent advice above. If I've missed this I'm sorry, but how long has your dog lived with you and how old is he? If he is getting on in years, another consideration is that his health may be subtly declining and a thorough vet exam may be in order. Just another perspective. I'm glad that your sitter is ok. What are her thoughts going forward, is she willing to continue to interact with your pup?

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I don't have anything to add to the excellent advice above, but I just wanted to say I'm sorry you are dealing with this. Good luck with whatever you decide. Although giving up a dog is never easy and there can be a lot of shaming by some people, you can see from the posts above that people understand it's sometimes what is best.

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I'm sorry this happened and agree with most everyone else. Better to say goodbye to him now than wait.

 

He can go to a home like mine--adult, live alone, would be perfectly willing to be extra careful with him.


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I get where a lot of the comments on this thread are coming from, but let's be clear, aggression is aggression. The reasons for a bite can vary and in some cases it may be much easier to manage the triggers and reduce the likelihood that the dog will bite again, but if a dog bit and sent an adult to the hospital for stitches, we shouldn't make light of it, especially in a home with children.

 

To the OP, my advice to you is to either rehome the dog through your group (you could ask them to allow you to foster the dog until placement if you feel comfortable with that to reduce the difficulty on your dog with the transition) or to seek professional help to develop a plan for managing the dog's environment to reduce the likelihood of aggression and use behavior modification to lessen your dog's triggers for aggression. If the dog weren't already in your home, I would never recommend putting him in your home given the bite history. Bite histories and kids just don't mix. Whether you keep him because he's already in your home is your choice, but I would keep in mind that while you can manage and do behavior mod, you may not be able to predict completely what might cause your dog to bite in the future and because we know that he doesn't have a high level of bite inhibition, it's likely he will break skin again if he's triggered.

 

You also have to take your husand's feelings into consideration. If he can't get past this and be comfortable around the dog, you're not doing anyone any favors keeping him.

 

I don't say any of this lightly. I know how difficult of a decision it can be to realize your dog isn't in the best home for him, nor is he necessarily the dog you signed up for, but you need to do what is best for your family. And honestly, what is best for your family will hopefully also be what is best for the dog. He may do very well in a home environment without kids or a lot of activity and never bite again.

 

Until you reach a decision, do muzzle him or keep him separate from your kids when you can't supervise fully and if you have guests over, especially children, please gate him in another room where the kids don't have access to him, or give him a comfy crate to rest in with a stuffed frozen kong or something like a bully stick to keep him occupied.

 

ETA: Also, I don't know where you live, but if you decide you want to do a consult with a behaviorist to help you reach a decision, let me know where you're located and I'm happy to reach out on my trainer listserves to find some good recommendations for you.

Edited by NeylasMom

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I have no helpful suggestions, but I want to add that there is no shame in not feeling comfortable with working with a dog who has a bite history. when I was in high school, we adopted a grey who ended up biting me about a week later. I was familiar with dogs and knew enough about their behavior to know when they wanted to be left alone. We had just come home, I came inside, grabbed a milkbone, and went to give it to him. He was standing in front of the kitchen door (he was so new that we were letting him come to us for attention and not forcing it on him, so when he was up I wanted to treat and pet him). I reached down, offered him the treat, and he bit my arm. He would have broken the skin had I not been wearing a coat. No warning, no provocation, nothing. I can only assume that he was afraid of my coat, perhaps the noise it made startled him, or maybe there was something going on in his head that led him to bite. Regardless of the reason, he didn't give any warning. My parents (in full "must protect our child" mode) called the group and brought him back that day. He was put in foster care with someone in another city and later adopted.

 

There are people out there who are comfortable with and capable of working with a dog with a bite history, so if you do decide to return him, know that the group will find the best place for him.

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thank you to all who have responded and given me your kind advice. I live in CA, and he has been with us for 1 year. I consider myself a very dedicated animal and dog person, and have always had dogs living with me, all the way from before kids, to babies up to elementary school kids today. I have never been confronted with such a difficult situation so thank you for the comments back to my post...they are immensely helpful as I work though this and not rush into any decision.

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  • 1 year later...

I would love to hear how things are going in this situation. I just wrote a long post myself about dealing with a new adoptee and tragic biting situations. I am in the struggle of the decision of what to do myself. I have contacted my group and my husband and I are discussing options. It is so hard. I am not one to give up either, but the comments above are so true. And I want to also thank those who commented and who gave "permission" to re-surrender. To many of us, I know this is just a horrible thought. It does feel shameful. It does feel like failure. We are rescuers...not surrenders. So hard.....

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It is NOT a failure to not have the experience, home layout or family makeup (other pets, children, even adults) to be able to take care of a dog who has bitten (especially when they show little control of their bite strength). There are people out there that have the ability to work with such a situation, and thank heaven for them! Keeping everyone as safe as possible is the most important thing we as adopters can do. Sometimes that means accepting that our life situation doesn't work with a particular pet, as hard as that may be.

 

It is heartbreaking that the two of you are going through this situation.

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Regardless of whether he was awake or asleep, a single snap/bite like this is not an attack, but a reactive response to something that startled or scared him. Dogs feel the most vulnerable when they are lying down. Even if he was awake, he might not have been paying attention, and the sitter 'suddenly' appearing near him, perhaps partly leaning over or toward him as she went to pick up a toy, just startled him. Like someone coming up next to or behind you unexpectedly, and you jump and reflexively swing out an arm in defense, perhaps accidentally hitting your friend who was trying to play a joke on you.

 

Obviously, there is risk of something like this happening again, especially without knowing the full circumstances of this particular incident. And as others have said, if you or your husband are just not comfortable having him in the home anymore, it would be best to return him to the group. Working with a dog who has a bite history takes commitment and understanding, and often long term management. He may always be a dog you need to approach cautiously when he's lying down. It doesn't matter if he's on a dog bed or not - if he's lying down, he's resting and needs his space.

"Regardless of whether he was awake or asleep, a single snap/bite like this is not an attack, but a reactive response to something that startled or scared him." This.

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Guest DarkHorse

I'm pretty tolerant of most behaviours. We've had resource guarders, thieves, markers, illnesses, etc.

 

But the one thing I will not tolerate is unprovoked biting, especially when it comes to my priority animals (the two senior animals in the house, who are both over 10 and have been with us for 7+ years) or my niece.

 

Now, it's up to you to determine if the bite was provoked, and if the provocation is something you can guard against. I've been nipped before, and always been able to explain why and then avoid doing the same thing. In some situations, the solution is muzzling (like biting during nail trims). In others, it's just changing the general behaviour of the house (like not being near the dog when he's on his bed). Some of those can be feasible and some aren't.

 

I would suggest talking to the babysitter and getting a play-by-play of what exactly happened leading up to the bite. At the very least, you can pass that information along to the group, so they know what to warn any future adopters about. But you might find out that the babysitter omitted/forgot some important detail that you think was the cause and can be prevented in the future. For instance, if she accidentally kicked your pup while walking around him (even if it wasn't at all hard), or bent right over top of him, rather than crouching down beside him.

 

But at the end of the day, if it's an unprovoked bite or one you don't feel you can 100% prevent the circumstances of, I would strongly suggest rehoming. Your kids have to be your priority, and what is an upsetting injury on an adult would be even more serious on a kid.

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