Border collie bite issues

Discussion in 'Working and Companion Animals' started by beorning, May 18, 2006.

  1. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    606
    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I've got a seven year old border collie. Yesterday afternoon he bit a three year old child and gashed open her eyebrow. Everything has turned out OK. The child wasn't seriously hurt. Her parents are being civil about the matter, and the police visit was uneventful.

    Nothing would have led me to believe the dog would bite a child. We have a seven year old that has grown up with this dog. Her friends have played with him, there have been hoardes of screaming kids around him at birthday parties, never gave any inclination he would do something like this. He's been dressed up, attempts have been made to ride him, etcetera. He's reacted to all of them very happily.

    There weren't any witnesses.I was on my way home from work. The kids mom and my wife were in the kitchen, around the corner where it happened, and didn't see anything. He was the only dog loose at the time, and the hospital confirmed it was a dog bite.

    I'm guessing, at this point, that the child did something to aggravate the dog. It goes without saying that he'll never be around children unsupervised again. I am looking for some feedback as to what steps I can take to further insure that this never occurs again. ( short of putting the dog down) Training tips, etcetera. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    So far, I'm planning on beefing up my backyard fence, buying a harness for walking him ( he'll slip his collar, then sit down and grin at me, just to let me know he can do it), and stepping up his obedience work. He'll also be going to the vet today or tommorow for a check-up.
     
  2. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,910
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2003
    Location:
    tn
    sounds to me like you are a responsible dog owner. thank you!
     

  3. crystalniche

    crystalniche Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    880
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I know that I might get flamed for this one as no dog should ever be excused for biting but here goes. I've seen this happen~a child is alone with a dog and pushes that dog beyond its endurance so the dog goes to nip and instead makes contact. I had a friend who had a Shepherd cross who was a very beautiful and delightful dog, bright sparkling personality. She was nipping at the kids. What the adults did not see was what those kids were doing to that poor dog. After a warning from animal control that poor dog was taken away to jail. Her "Grandparents" felt very bad and rescued her from death row. As soon as she was away from the kids who were tormenting her she was fine~even with properly behaved kids. No more nipping~ever.

    Your dog seems to have proven his temperament over and over again. After a good physical with watching quite possibly he will be fine again.

    As a kid we lost our pet dog due to a bite~our insurance company made us have him PTS. An 8 year old girl went into our yard while we were not at home. This was way back in 1963 so things were different then. It was very hot out and we had to go out for the day so Mom chained the dog out under the trees so he would be cool & comfortable, gave him water & a bone and off we went. It was a Sunday in July, we were on a family picnic. A neighbor's child went into our yard, behind the barn and over to the dog. She picked up a stick (broken rake handle) and took it over to the dog. She whacked the dog a few times with it then she hauled off and hit him on top of his head with it. A neighbor saw this and came running to make her stop as his yelling at her to stop went unnoticed by her. The child then saw the neighbor, heard him yelling and said "I'm not hurting him." and stepped up to him with the stick still in her hand. As she raised her other hand to pet the dog on the head he thought another blow was coming and nipped her hand. (We also heard she was reaching for his bone) She ran home and her mother went ballistic. She got a lawyer and tried to sue my parents for the dog bite. She lost because the neighbor was a police officer and his word was as good as gold. Also the child was considered to be old enough to know right from wrong and admitted that she had been told to stay out of our yard by my Mom because of her behavior. Our poor dog lost as well.
     
  4. kgchis

    kgchis Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    161
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Location:
    Mississippi
    I agree with Crystal. I believe this child very possible did something to the dog. Kids do strange things. I had a friend when I was little (4 or 5) who actually bit a dog. For some reason she decided she had to bite the dog before it bit her. I am not sure why this thought crossed her mind. It wasn't threatening her. Anyway my point is some kids do strange and unpredictable things to dogs. FYI that dog watched her closely whenever she was around until the day it passed years later, and she was in big trouble with her parents for hurting an animal. She grew up to be one of the biggest animal rescue people I know.

    One other thought I had was did you check you dog over well. We have a dog that never showed any agression to any other dog or person. Then all of a sudden she started snapping one afternoon. We checked under her thick coat (almost needed a muzzle to do it) and found she had been snake bit. Her leg hurt and she didn't want anyone touching it. In her mind, nipping kept them away.

    I think overall you are doing the right thing by just making sure it won't happen again in the off chance it was the dog's fault.
     
  5. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    606
    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    The dog went in this morning for a vet visit. He's fine, no problems. There has also been no behavior shift, other than the bite incident. My wife tells me that when they went to see why the child was screaming, the dog was standing next to her looking very concerned. He followed them into the bathroom when they were cleaning the injury and continued to appear very concerned about the child. He was more quiet than usual last night and looking pretty upset with himself. He was back to normal this morning.

    I don't plan on calling my insurance company unless the child's parents change her mind and decide to sue, or other issues arise. They have excellent health insurance, so there was no cost incurred to them regarding the incident. ( though I suppose that their insurance company could make an issue of it) They don't seem inclined to pursue the matter further themselves. I need to go over my homeowner's policy and get more clear on the particulars of this, as far as they are concerrned.

    I'm still feeling a bit sick about the whole thing. I'm hoping that the matter is settled, but you never know. The world tends to be a little litigation happy, these days.
     
  6. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    Your dog sounds like a wonderful, caring pup. I do believe that child needs to be taught some manners though. I believe she obviously did something to provoke the poor dog. Shame on her and shame on her parents for not teaching her better!
     
  7. Caprice Acres

    Caprice Acres AKA "mygoat" Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    12,662
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Location:
    MI
    This kinda happened to me, the dog bite. But not because of me...
    We have an apartment attached to our barn. And old apartment; the people lived in that apartment 50 years or so ago when the house was being built. Anywho, a guy moved in there with his english setter and we became friends. He had the most interesting things, animal pelts, skulls, and was always bringing and showing me those big moth cocoons and calling me over when they hatched and stuff. Well, that dog, Snooper, was the main reason the man, Gary, moved. The dog was being abused by the neiborhood kids. They would take his water bowl just out of his reach, hit him with sticks, and kick his bone at/away from him, Chuck the bones at the dog, and throw rocks at it. Me and the dog got along fine. Well, one day I was leaving Gary's house and accidentally kicked the dog's bone a little bit. The dog lunged at me, and my whole face fit in it's mouth. It did no damage, but when my head hit the wall it's top teeth broke skin on my forehead... The dog had it's rabies shot and it was barely a scratch, plus we were friends with the man, who was worried as well... the dog looked so amazed at iself... Curled up next to me and whimpered before Gary dragged it off of me. It knew it made a mistake. I didn't like going over there anymore because I knew that it would disturb the dog and I didn't exactly know what would set it off.
     
  8. wendle

    wendle Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,131
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    Border collies are bred to herd livestock. Part of herding sometimes can involve biting, and action can trigger that bite response. Even though your dog is a very nice dog, something the child did could have triggered what the dog is bred to do. These dogs were not bred to be a socialite, even though many of them are good at that. Never leave your dog unattended with other people's children. Remember a dog is a dog, and will always be even if we think they are like a person. My border collies are great with my kids but I would never put them in a situation with another kid.
    You are fortunate your neighbor didn't report the dog bite. In my area if a person has a dog bite he has to tell the hospital who owns the dog and what dog so they can keep a record of it. Good luck with everything
     
  9. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    606
    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    The bite was reported, by me and by the hospital staff. Wisconsin law makes it mandatory to report because of possible rabies issues, and the little girl needed stitches. She seems like a good kid, and her parents are nice folks, but she's only three. Three year olds aren't noted for common sense, in my experience, but I'm not prepared to pin the blame for the incident on her. Doesn't really matter what she did, my dog shouldn't have bitten her. Period. If I'm going to blame anyone or anything it will be myself for not being around when it happened, not cautioning my wife to put the dog up when other kids came over, etcetera. To be honest, had I been home, the dog wouldn't have been around the kid. My wife isn't quite as paranoid and worrisome as I am though, so... Rest assured that he will never be around strange kids again, and neither will my other dog. I can't afford the stress.

    My border herded cattle for the first four years I owned him (minus training and early puppyhood) He's not terribly social with adults that he doesn't know, but he's always been very good around children and other animals. I guess I can scratch children off that list now.
     
  10. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    Bristol, ny
    My older male border bit my son two years ago when my son was five. He also is totally in love with my kids and all kids. What happened is that Chester was really excited trying to herd the lawn mower and my son grabbed his tail and tried to pull him when he was "working". Chester just reached back and his open mouth brushed my sons head but it broke skin on his ear. He was totally focused on the mower. It wasn't intentional or malicious. Even my five year old knew it was his own fault.
     
  11. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Messages:
    13,086
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Ontario
    I think someone else suggested that if you blow in a dogs face even the nicest dog will snap at you or at least they'll snap at people they don't consider as leader. It's easily done by a 3 yr old. Blow in his face they either make a funny face or paw at you, do it again and again, and that funny face connects meaning to or not. My BC is a kids best friend, but make a squeeky noise at her and she becomes excited very quickly. That excitability makes them great working dogs, but it includes a degree of nipping (that boosts a dog packs excitment, all for the greater good of working, or its roots, ... hunting). No dog is 100% reliable, and its unrealistic to expect that from any dog. I hope things continue to work out for you. Wisc does seem to be one of those few places left with sane people, and its not just your experience I've noticed.
     
  12. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

    Messages:
    3,736
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    VT
    Incidents like this one are the reason we don't place Rescues in households with children age four and under. Some parents find this mortally insulting (their child is perfect around dogs and would never torture one...) but the only problems we've ever had with an adoption happened in households with a kid four or under... and we've taken badly shaken dogs out of homes with a four year old in them. So now, for our own peace of mind, we have an ironclad rule: no sprouts.

    While you'll never know what happened, my guess is the kid did something inappropriate. True, your dog shouldn't have bitten, but you don't know if your dog felt it couldn't escape, or was startled, or in pain. The real lesson here is to never leave your dog in a space with a young child unattended. Unless the child is strapped to a chair and suspended from a ceiling beam, well out of reach.
     
  13. coalroadcabin

    coalroadcabin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,435
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2004
    Don't mean to sound mean, but what in the world was a three year old doing playing with the dog unsupervised?!! :nono: Jeez, the kid did what kids do and the dog did what dogs do..........sounds like the Mom needs to pay a bit more attention to her kid!!
     
  14. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    9,569
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2003
    Location:
    CHINA
    My 5yo(adopted) daughter has cruel tendancies with the animals if given the chance....we are vigilant about watching her....our Border Collie nips(a pinch really) at kids when playing...but will knock the 5yo down on purpose when she's had enough of her crap....and I let her do it because 5yo needs to learn respect the hard way....the goats butt her when she pulls tails...the cat scratches her when she pulls his tail...and she is the only one the roosters flap wings at (not attacking just showing). There are kids out there that have to learn their lessons the hard way...

    My son always says "I cant understand why the animals always forgive her!" :p
     
  15. yuvgotmel

    yuvgotmel Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    160
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2005
    I had a dog in my childhood that was perfect except for one thing. She disliked young children and would nip at them. This behaviour was brought on by neighboring children abusing her. In fact she ended up being stolen and tied to a tree without food and water to die. We found her half-dead and she lived an additional five years. Behavior like that which you desribe (especially since it sounds like you have a very nice dog) I think had to been caused by previous child-abuse.

    Good Luck