Watch dog advice

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by whodunit, May 10, 2004.

  1. whodunit

    whodunit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Warning, this is long...

    We just moved to our homestead and have a female yellow Lab who is about 3 years old.

    The other day, the dog chased and bit our neighbor's 4 year old on the back of the leg. There was broken skin and a couple teeth marks, but no serious puncture wounds or anything.

    Amazingly, her mother was very calm about the whole thing and explained to the girl that she had probably done something to agitate the dog. We called the dog over and let the girl pet and talk to her.

    I was very nervous about the whole thing and apologized profusely, but the mother assured me that to her it was no big deal and that she was raised on a farm where they were bit numerous times by their dogs, because dogs bite.

    We have two little girls and the dog has never so much as growled at them. They have hit her and taken food from her mouth, all without any response from the dog but a dumb look on her face.

    The only other incident we have had thus far was when a young girl began skipping toward me and my daughters while out for a walk. The dog chased her away and growled, all with her hackles up.

    The mother in this case, was also understanding and told the girl that she should not have approached us like she did.

    My spouse is of the opinion that many people deserve what they get when it comes to dogs, since they usually do something to get bit, such as being rambuncous or loud or walking toward or between the dog and children.

    In the bite case, my spouse witnessed part of the incident. The girl was with our daughters and the neighbor's (the girl's) large male yellow Lab came over. Our dog is nervous about their dog.

    Suddenly the girl screeched or started running or doing something else and our dog already nervous about the other dog in her yard, took offense and the chase was on.

    Additionally, my spouse saw the girl beating their dog with a stick or something and the dog was not happy and kept moving away from her.

    We like the idea of the dog protecting our children. Although they are supervised, we moved to the country in order for them to be able to roam in their own yard while we are in the house and have the dog keeping watch.

    In the past, at our other place, the dog has always just barked when anyone approached and then was fine when she saw they were welcome.

    Now, she seems to be more agressive, with growling, chasing and biting.

    I'm really hoping that its the change of scenery that has our dog on overdrive and that she herself has not had some kind of change.

    I would like advice on how to deal with this situation, with my main concern being over someone (especially a child) getting seriously bitten and us possibly sued.

    I have come across some ideas on this website that I like, such as warning people who might drop by to stay in their cars and honk, and to never approach the children when the dog is out with them, unless we are there to moniter her reactions.

    I also liked the advice about not placing signs because it could be used as an admission that you knew the dog was capable of biting.

    Leaving the dog constantly tied up is not an option since that defeats the whole purpose of her being a watch dog for the children.
    I did have the idea of giving the neighbor girl some dog treats and when she wants to join our daughters in our yard, to calmly call our dog over by name and give her a treat.

    Any thoughts or ideas would be most appreciated!
     
  2. It is extremely upsetting to have your dog bite someone. I was completely shaken when our shepherd bit a neighbor; I don't think I said a word to the dog for a week afterwards, not by plan but just because it was so unsettling.
    But dogs do bite, and as you said, that's why you get them.
    You said that you recently moved. A dog has to reset his sense of boundaries and this may take some time. When we moved from a suburban lot to our farm, our dog was in heaven because finally the area she wanted to protect was suited to her. (Before she was always defending the public street - barking at kids in strollers and everything)
    I wonder if it would be a good idea to help your dog know when she is on her own turf by taking her for walks in which she goes on the leash when she crosses the property line. This helps you to control her and helps her to know what land she is supposed to be watching. It sounds like she's a good dog, but still unsure about her territory and the new surroundings. You do have to move to protect others a bit though until she calms down - even if a dog scares someone and they fall backwards and break a hip, you have hurt someone and you would be held responsible by medical insurance companies, etc. - and of course no one wants anyone to be hurt.
    Just as a final note, be sure she's up on her shots. If there is a bite and shots are overdue it might make the animal control people cranky.
    Good luck and congratulations on your homestead!
     

  3. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    To start with, walk the perimeter of your place with your dog every day, morning and evening if possible. This will teach her where the boundaries are.

    Second, teach her what you expect her to do when people drive up. If she barks praise her. If you want her to stand on the porch, escort her there when someone arrives...EVERY TIME.

    Teach her how to behave around children. Make sure she will lie down on command.

    Have a "safe" place for her to retreat to where you can explain to children that they are not allowed to go and mess with her.
     
  4. Sunny Days Farm

    Sunny Days Farm Member

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    I take it that the bite occured in your yard. I have 2 Full grown English Mastiffs, 2 Mastiff pups...and 4 children. We have just moved also, about 3 months ago, and my dogs are getting used to some running room. However, they are not allowed to "roam" for several reasons. We only have 2 acres, and there are neighbors "close by", we are on a "country" road...but cars still FLY driving down it. Our immediate yard is completely fenced in, and we built a large kennel with a very large fenced in "play area" for the dogs. (the goat will go in with them also) These dogs are extememely gentle and friendly...HOWEVER, if they were to feel that one of us were being "threatened" it would be different. We have NEVER had anything "happen' until this past weekend. A neighbor who had been here several times, but always at least 3 weeks between visits, was playing with my 8 yr. old. the older boy started chasing my son, and my son was screaming,,,Maggie ran after them and nipped the older boy on the butt. Not enough to hurt him..but to scare him. We made them stop immediately and later that evening when all of the kids wanted to play a running/chasing game we put Maggie in a secure location so that she couldn't chase. When a pet in on your property, it has the right to protect, you have to keep a careful eye out. I don't understand why you wouldn't be able to put out a "beware of Dog sign" From what I have heard...you are WARNING people BEFORE they enter your property that you have a guard dog and it may act accordingly. I have actually none someone who was required by his ladlord to purchase insurance to cover the possiblilty of dog bits, when he bought a doberman. The insurance company issued a lower rate if you DID post signs.
    Hope this helps....good luck.
    DeAnn
     
  5. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just be careful. While I agree and whole heartedly endorse the concept of your family dogs protecting your property and your family, people need to be made aware of the fact. Many, many people think that all dogs are nice, or are of the opinion that all dogs love them.
    We have a comical sign at our first gate about the dogs, but none at the gate to our yard. I'd caution against posting beware of dog signs, as your insurance company will tell you that those are an invitation for a lawsuit.
    We have German Shepherds, and the 3 girls will stop anyone at the yard gate (as they're supposed to) and we let word out not to enter the yard if the dogs are loose.
    Sadly, I had to put our male shepherd down this year, as he became more and more protective of me as he got older, mauling my schnauzer almost to death, and biting my mother when she walked up and hugged me. It got to the point that anyone or anything that came near me was in danger, as I was unable to control him in his need to protect me. He obeyed all other commands beautifully, and would "down" immediately for my husband if someone came near me, but no longer for myself.
    So again, be careful. I'd hate for anyone to have to lose their pet.
     
  6. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    .............Children , need to be Trained , about HOW to treat the Dog as much as training the Dog about the children. The other situation concerning bites of neighbor children will become very important when they decide to sue for damages. That would be the reason that you should carry a million dollar general liability policy as it usually only runs about 10 to 12 dollars amonth. Then , you're financially protected if and when the lawsuit results in a judgement FOR the neighbor and Against you. .........fordy... :eek: :)
     
  7. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    > "The other day, the dog chased and bit our neighbor's 4 year old on the back of the leg. "


    Then if the dog is out, you will have to be out also, to keep an eye on it. Dogs OFTEN want to chase whoever is running, but it CANNOT be allowed in a dog that has bitten. Also, since the dog has just been moved, your presence will help to calm her so she is less nervous until she adapts to her new surroundings.

    .......................................................................................




    > Amazingly, her mother was very calm about the whole thing and explained to the girl that she had probably done something to agitate the dog.


    If the dog bites agin this year, she won't be so calm. A dog that has just moved CAN be nervous. The next time, she may not be so forgiving.
    ..........................................................................


    > "The dog chased her away and growled, all with her hackles up."

    Sounds like nerves. But, if you don't get after her sharply for this, she won't realize that you don't want her to do this.
    ...................................................................................

    > "My spouse is of the opinion that many people deserve what they get when it comes to dogs, since they usually do something to get bit, such as being rambuncous or loud or walking toward or between the dog and children."

    It doesn't matter. You won't be able to train all of the little kids that come over, you can only work with the dog. The dog carries weapons and the children do not: a very unequal fight.

    ............................................

    > "Suddenly the girl screeched or started running or doing something else and our dog already nervous about the other dog in her yard, took offense and the chase was on."

    Again, it doesn't matter. All pre-schoolers will do this, dog present or not. They forget and run. You won't be able to train the kids, you can only work on the dog.
    ......................................................................................



    > "We like the idea of the dog protecting our children. Although they are supervised, we moved to the country in order for them to be able to roam in their own yard while we are in the house and have the dog keeping watch."

    NOT with this dog, not yet, not unless the yard is fenced. The next time the dog bites, it may not be a nip. You need to be present to enforce her manners.

    Obedience lessons might help the dog to put people into perspective. I realize that it was a well-behaved dog in it's own home but thingsd have changed, and it would help the dog to realize that her good manners CANNOT change!
    ...........................................................

    > "In the past, at our other place, the dog has always just barked when anyone approached and then was fine when she saw they were welcome.

    > Now, she seems to be more agressive, with growling, chasing and biting."


    Classic signs of a nervous dog, but she CANNOT be allowed to do this now or she will think it is OK. Do NOT reassure her, speak sharply so she knows that you will not allow this.
    ...............................................................

    > "I'm really hoping that its the change of scenery that has our dog on overdrive and that she herself has not had some kind of change."

    I think you are correct, and also the dog does NOT realize she must NOT do this! It would be too easy for her to get bad habits at this time.
    .........................................................

    > "I would like advice on how to deal with this situation, with my main concern being over someone (especially a child) getting seriously bitten and us possibly sued."

    A real danger to you.
    ...................................................................

    > "I have come across some ideas on this website that I like, such as warning people who might drop by to stay in their cars and honk, and to never approach the children when the dog is out with them, unless we are there to moniter her reactions."

    This WON'T work with your childrens FRIENDS!
    .....................................................


    > "Leaving the dog constantly tied up is not an option since that defeats the whole purpose of her being a watch dog for the children. "

    AT THIS TIME, I see NO OTHER OPTION. This may change after your dog has been at your new home for a few months. Also, if your dog chases the livestock in the area, she may be shot. I do NOT think that she is ready to run free, not yet anyways. ..............................................................
    > "I did have the idea of giving the neighbor girl some dog treats and when she wants to join our daughters in our yard, to calmly call our dog over by name and give her a treat."

    A very good idea, but not enough. Giving treats is a submissive act, not a dominant one. It might help your dog to remember that it must be submissive to kids if YOUR DAUGHTER starts walking the dog on a leash. Obedience lessons might help here, also.
     
  8. chickflick

    chickflick Well-Known Member

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    Gee....... for some reason the word "FENCE" comes to mind.
     
  9. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Your responsibility is to protect children from your dog.I doubt the law would see it differently.She has bitten once.Next time you will be in serious doodoo.The dog must never again have the opportunity to bite a child.EVER!The consequences may be disastrous to you and a child.My Shih tzu bit a grandchild ONCE.Never again have we allowed kid and dog together.Or any child near the dog.Cant trust him,and Im not putting anything at risk again based on a dogs brain.We make no excuses for our dogs actions here.We are responsible for eveything he does.IMHO
    BooBoo
     
  10. RAC

    RAC Guest

    "I was very nervous about the whole thing and apologized profusely, but the mother assured me that to her it was no big deal and that she was raised on a farm where they were bit numerous times by their dogs, because dogs bite."

    "numerous times"????? Hunh?????How badly behaved were THEIR dogs?

    You were very lucky. Hardly anyone is so blase about that sort of thing these days.

    You can also crate and/or keep the dog in the house when people visit, too. Always a good idea, imho.
     
  11. countrygirl26

    countrygirl26 Active Member

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    A while back my husband and I went to buy some chickens off of an older couple. They had a doberman mix. she was an older dog. We waited until the man came outside to get out of our car, because we did not know the dog. We all petted it and my son was playing fetch with the dog. My son came over to me and asked me to pick him up as we were walking to the mans barn. As soon as I reached down to pick him up the dogs grabbed my upper leg and bit down hard. It ripped a hole in my short and barely broke the skin, but it hurt bad enough to bring tears to my eyes and an instant welt and bruise. I was very upset with the owners because they did not apologise one single time. They did not correct the dog or even say anything to the dog. The only thing they said is Did she bite you? No I was yelling while sitting on the ground for no apparent reason. What made me more upset than anything is that it could've been my son it bit and could have really hurt him cause he was only 3 years old. With no apology of the dog biting or them even putting the dog up we left and didn't say another word.

    We used to have a male St. Bernard named GOliath. He was a very huge st. bernard. He was nice to all our family my son and friends kids could climb all over him take food from his mouth and anything. We moved to the country and he became very protective of my son and of us. We tried to muzzle him and do some training with him ,but it didn't help. What we had to do is when we walked hiim we had to muzzle him, because everyone saw him and thought" BEETHOVEN" but I could only visualize "KUJO". It is like he just turned different over night. We would always tell strangers not to pet them when they approached, because I was afraid he may bite them. We just eventually fenced in our property and put a sign up for people to honk when they pulled up and we would chain him up when we had people come to our door. I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.

    I really think some dogs are just very protective of their family and sometimes they don't realize someone is playing they think that they are hurting you and it upsets them.

    Just be careful and if necessary fence in a part of your yard for your dog. My friend had a rottweiler and she bit someone, but the animal controll said that it was the other peoples fault, because they had warning signs up - BEWARE OF DOG- NO TRESPASSING- and that they should've not gone onto the property. The dog had all of her shots so they didn't do anything about it. We now have 2 St. Bernards. They are both loving dogs, but I still have beware of dogs signs up just so people knopw I have 2 huge dogs so be careful.
     
  12. whodunit

    whodunit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for all the advice thus far.

    We are closely monitering the situation and she seems to be adapting.

    I heard her barking at people in the area several times today and watched to see what she did. She stayed on the property and made no attempts to pursue anyone, although they were well off our property.

    We have also noticed she seems very aware of our property lines, and has rarely ventured off unless we were there with her. She was chasing off some deer the other day and stopped at the barbed wire fence (which is the property line), even though she could have easily kept going.

    In thinking through all this and reading all your responses, its amazing how times have changed and people have differing opinions.

    I remember a dog back in my childhood that was skittish with strangers in the yard. She would not activley bother them when we were with them, and we always told them not to touch her since would probably bite. Even though, several people still tried to touch her and got snapped at. So, I can see where many people cause what happens with dogs, but when it comes to young children, I have to agree that they need extra special attention around dogs.

    I also really like the idea of telling people that will be frequent visitors to our place to honk the horn and stay until we come outside and to never approach the children when the dog is outside unless we are there.

    I'm still torn on signs and such, unless I can come up with something that does not sound like an admission that you suspect your dog is Cujo's kin!
     
  13. deb

    deb Well-Known Member

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    Your taking this calmly, too calmy. A dog generally gets only one chance at biting anyone. Your neighbor might be cool with the situation, but if your dog were to bite someone else and that person called the sheriff, you would find the sheriff would hold that first bite against the dog and treat her as a repeat offender. It could mean that you get fined or the dog gets put down...it depends on your county. Around here if your dog followed someone off your property and then bite them, you would also get $150 ticket for letting your dog roam. Besides the legal fees and fines, you may find the next dog bite will also cancel your home owners insurance. You might not find anyone willing to insure your house after that cancellation.

    First of all should install a tall fence around your main yard to keep your kids and dog inside and everyone else outside. If you really think that visitors should honk their horn and stay in their car when they arrive at your house, then you should add a lock to your gate and a cordless doorbell. It isn't reasonable to expect visitors to honk and stay in their car and it isn't enforcible so you are opening yourself up to future trouble.

    If you are going to encourage your dog to be protective, then you should take your dog to obedience classes now. You need to be able to call your dog off someone in any and all situations and I seriously doubt that you have that kind of control of her at this point.

    You can put up beware of dog signs, but it won't protect you from being sued or prosecuted. Those signs will actually work against you in court because they prove that you knew your dog was dangerous.

    You can read this and discount it, but if your dog bites another child there is a very good chance it will be put down.

    deb
     
  14. RAC

    RAC Guest

    Laws have really changed on "beware of dog" signs--you practically have to have videotape evidence of someone baiting or hurting your dog first now (then getting bitten) to win in court, but even then, the courts seem to hold that children under 16 can't read, and also don't know that tresspassing and stealing is wrong, so of course they don't know that hurting an animal is wrong too.

    The other thing is that you can't talk to a dog/cat and find out why it bit today, but not last week. An overheated animal is always more prone to biting. An animal might have a sore paw or an unknown sore, and someone just happens to touch it wrong.

    Either confine your dog, or confine your guests--or entertain somewhere other than home.
     
  15. RAC

    RAC Guest

    Forgot to add that most courts would hold that people have a common courtesy right to go to your door or in your yard for say, emergency help, to ask for directions if they're lost, to deliver packages both expected and unexpected--say you're sick and someone sends you flowers, that sort of thing. That would be regardless of No Tresspassing/No Soliciting signs, by the way.

    So, unless you have unlimited funds with which to fence your entire property, it's easier to keep the dog confined to a smaller area.

    Insurance is an issue, but only for people with mortgages, I think. Homeowner insurance is not a requirement like car insurance.
     
  16. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    RAC is correct, I am afraid.
     
  17. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Ok,let me put it this way if it will make my point.If your dog bit my child once,I MAY let it slide.If he bit him a second time, unleashed, unsupervised I would OWN YOU.That is the fact of the matter,and lots of people feel that way.I urge you to fence the dog in for your and others safety,you got real lucky this time.I would NEVER give you a free pass a second time.It says to me you have ZERO regard for the safety of children or neighbors KNOWING FULL WELL your animal is capable of biting children.Your dog is a threat to the children as his aggresive actions have clearly demonstrated to you more than once,yet you STILL allow him to run free,and you are well aware of his propensity to respond with violence.Thats how I see it,and lots of others will see it that way too.Why risk it?Thats what I dont understand,makes no sense to me.I'd nail you big time if it happened to me,sorry!Dont know how else to respond or sugar coat it so it sounds friendly,I'd freak,period! :confused:
    BooBoo
     
  18. whodunit

    whodunit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Again, thanks for all the response. I am reading each and every one.

    Let me say that as far the belief that I am acting too calmly to the situation, I disagree. I would have never sought advice on the matter had that been the case.

    What you are likely NOT seeing is the typical knee-jerk reaction that most people have these days about anything that happens in their lives and that is being perceived as calmness.

    What I am looking for are solutions with which we can live, specifically ones that fall in with our philosophy of protecting our family and property. That is why keeping the dog tied up or fenced would not be a solution. The dog is there for self-protection, as are the other “items” we keep in hand.

    At any given time, we are likely 12 miles from the nearest law enforcement (depending where they happen to be patrolling when we call), so self-protection in this area is a way of life.

    If you are thinking that crime rarely happens in rural areas, think again. There was a recent incident in a nearby town of about 500 people, where three men came to and INTO someone’s house to seek revenge over a fight in which their son had been involved. Members of the family were injured in the ensuing scuffle. It is a miracle nobody was shot, since the family did have guns during the incident, but they were afraid to shoot at anyone and fired warning shots into the air. They would have likely been justified in shooting, since there were young children and babies inside the house, as well as pregnant women.

    The first law enforcement to arrive to the area took about 12 minutes, since he had to respond from about 15 miles away. Even then, he ended up not going to the house, but chased the suspects who chose to flee. The units that arrived at the house took about 20 minutes or so.

    Additionally, wild animals are a concern as well where we live. We have heard coyotes nearby and our wonderful neighbors once saw their daughter perilously close to a badger! If you are not sure what a badger is, picture an animal the size of a large cat, with the claws of a bear, the teeth of a dog, and the disposition of a wet hen! Cougars are also a possibility and even deer can be dangerous under the right circumstances.

    As well as lawsuits, there is almost nothing anyone can do to avoid them these days. Anyone can sue you for anything, warranted or not. You will be forced to go to the expense and time of defending yourself, even when the suit is bogus as are many.

    What is lacking is personal responsibility. Yes, if we invite someone onto the property and do not take some type of measures to ensure their safety, then I can see where we might be responsible. But if an unsupervised child comes onto the property or an adult who should know that all dogs are not friendly, and both are uninvited and get bitten, where does the responsibility lay? Should the parents of the child take some responsibility? Should the UPS driver take some responsibility for not watching out for his own safety?

    If the responsibility falls onto the property owner in all cases, then everyone who has written on this subject should take the time to tie up or fence their cats and chickens, since they can attack too.

    You also better drain that stock tank or pond, or at least place a flotation device inside them, so that nobody can drown.

    Do not forget any potholes in your yard (broken ankles), any sharp edges or protruding nails in your out buildings.

    Have you checked the safety of your trees? Being crushed by a limb can ruin someone’s day!

    Enough said. I think my point has been made.
     
  19. RAC

    RAC Guest

    It's very difficult, if not impossible to prove ownership of a cat, unless one has a collar.... Dogs, on the other hand, are very obvious in their behaviors, collar or no.

    Just because that woman told you not to worry about it that day, doesn't mean she can't or won't come after you later if for example her child becomes terrified of all dogs. People change their minds all the time.

    Mightybooboo has a point, and he/she is not talking just about owning you (general you here) via civil court. Owners can be put in jail, on criminal charges for having known vicious dogs. If your dog bites someone in the future, animal control will be interviewing all your neighbors as part of the investigation, and your neighbor may or may not discuss her recent experience with your dog.

    And yes, there is a difference between taking reasonable precautions and being paranoid over it. The way I read your last post, it sounds like you are going to leave the situation as it is. Like I said, you might go up to some strange house asking to use the phone because there's been an accident, and not only is there not always evidence that a dog lives on a property, not all dogs warn you they're coming....
     
  20. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    "What I am looking for are solutions with which we can live, specifically ones that fall in with our philosophy of protecting our family and property. That is why keeping the dog tied up or fenced would not be a solution. The dog is there for self-protection, as are the other “items” we keep in hand."
    .......................................................................................

    Self protection is fine, but it sounds like your dog has had more changes than she can bear, just now. Keeping your dog with you right now would be like a parent taking a child home when he gets hyper and the parent just KNOWS that he will start hitting if he isn't taken home.

    A big difference is, if someone complains of a dog bite the animal is often court ordered to be put down.

    I am not saying that the dog has to be monitored always, just until she has a chance to settle in better. Right now, your dog is barely able to control herself, which is why she bit a child. The next bite could easily end up in her death, eather by court order or by a family who decides to take things into their own hands. It happens all of the time.

    24 hours is NOT enough down time for a dog after an incident like this. She bit yesterday, she could bite again tommorrow because she does NOT feel secure in her new surroundings. She is not ready to fly alone. She needs more from you than you are giving her. You are the alpha female: she will feel calmer when you are present. Your child cannot do this for her because your dog knows that your child IS a child!

    If you cannot be present to give her confidence, your DOG NEEDS YOU to limit her choices by controlling her until she is ready to control herself.

    What more can she do to tell you that you are expecting more than she can give you at this time?

    Let her be a watch dog NEXT month, when she has adjusted and is ready to work.

    Because I DO love dogs, and if she bites again it could cost her her life. :(