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Kid Safety Concerns with Dog lead to Family Drama... can family peace be restored?

Kids & Pets & Family Dog Drama

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

I am a longtime reader of your blog and advice column! As a fellow boy-mom and special education service provider, you are so, so relevant to my interests! Glad to see your elbow is on the mend. (Anyway, hi and hugs from a friendly internet stranger.)

So here’s the situation:

My sister, who is in her late twenties had her life take a left turn a few years ago, she was living out-of-state, away from family. She made the decision to come back home and move in with her very serious long distance boyfriend. Her employer agreed to let her telecommute. They boyfriend broke up with her as she was boxing up her things. So she temporarily moved back in with my parents, worked from their couch and figured out a new plan. One thing that she did in the name of self-care was volunteer at a local animal shelter, where she fell in love with a one year old pit bull rescue. She got a new job, a new place, fell in love again and she and this dog have been on their way up ever since.

Now, this dog. He’s been through some things. He had a clear startle response that looks very aggressive. Though mostly sweet, and mild-mannered, he has a history of nipping people, growling and other anxious dog behaviors, especially men when he is nervous. He once came over the fence at a neighbor and the neighbor felt so threatened as to call animal control. My sister has done everything under the sun to work through these issues. He’s been to obedience school, a trainer has come to her house and worked one on one with him. The dog is also on a low dose of prozac.

Enter my husband. A large man who has never had a dog, and has his own issues with anxiety, which he is working on and medicated for. This dog has growled at him, bit him and once, growled at my children. From his perspective, this dog is not to be trusted and is not to be unsupervised around our children. Because I have come to this dog’s defense in previous arguments, he does not trust my ability to supervise the children (six and two) around the dog and feels that his concern is not being taken seriously. We’ve revisited this issue a few times, but this is one of his hard limits. He has asked that if my sister’s dog is somewhere, either he be around or we not attend the function.

I was able to finesse this so that it never became a conversation with my sister, and we were able to peacefully attend functions and visit family for almost a year. However, I see now that I have kicked the can down the line too far, and things have come to a head. At one weekend at the family cottage this summer, I disclosed my husband’s request to my sister, who was hurt, frustrated and defensive. This has definitely put a wedge between my sister and my husband, who have already had a tense relationship at best.

A few weeks later, at the next opportunity to gather, my sister called me while I and my boys were en route to my mother’s house to let me know she was bringing her dog. She stated that she wanted to wait to let me know until I was already on my way so that it didn’t cause a fight with my husband, who stayed home. I was frustrated and angry at the situation she put me in, but for the sake of peace and a good weekend, did not turn the car around or alert my husband or make it a big issue with her. Mistake. My not asserting the issue enabled her to assume this would be the status quo. I cannot continue to lie by omission. Further, my children are very young, are not great secret keepers and asking them to lie to their father is unacceptable.

Now, my boys and I were planning to head to my mother’s again this coming weekend. My sister was planning to visit as well. I asked her if she was bringing her dog. She said she wasn’t sure because her fiancé may be staying home and doing other things. I asked her to please let me know, because if she was, my husband would either need to change his plans and come, or we could not attend. And explosion. My sister has stated that she will always plan to bring her dog, and “I guess I’ll see you never.” My mother has stated that she is so upset with my husband that she cannot comment on the situation.

I understand that her dog is her family. I understand that boarding him is an expense. I understand that leaving him home with her fiancé will be less fun for the dog than hanging out with us all weekend. I understand that she and her fiancé would like to come together to future gatherings, and the logistics around arranging for the dog to be somewhere else are very inconvenient. Selfishly, I really look forward to having some quiet time with my mother and my sister, and my husband enjoys the quiet time when I take the boys to visit and he stays home. I understand that I can’t have everything my way, and sometimes, to respect my husband’s wishes, I will have to miss out on some events.

I am thinking that the way forward means we all have to give. My husband needs to spend some more time around this dog and perhaps learn to feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, the relationship between my husband and family is now pretty strained, which complicates this. Sometimes, my sister needs to make arrangements for her dog so that we can enjoy each other’s company without that stress. If neither of these are possible, we may need to opt out of some gatherings.

But man, this just sucks. Am I missing something? Is there a better way forward? Is someone extra in the wrong here? Help!

L

(Update from Editor: I strongly encourage you to read the comments below from our smart readers who have additional and thoughtful opinions and legitimate concerns on this topic.)

Ugh, what a mess.

This seems like a situation that has snowballed so far out of control that all players involved share part of the blame, especially since everybody is digging their heels in EXTRA MEGA HARD and refusing to even consider some kind of compromise. Probably because there WAS a time for compromise, but now everybody feels lied to/deceived/insulted/frustrated/butthurt that it’s escalated past the point of everybody just CALMING DOWN and BEING REASONABLE and TALKING TO EACH OTHER LIKE ADULTS.

You asked if someone is extra in the wrong here, and that’s honestly hard to say because mistakes were made by pretty much everybody. On the one hand, your husband is 100% not obligated to like this dog, and your husband’s concerns about the dog’s aggressive tendencies and need for attentive adult supervision are not unreasonable. THAT SAID, I very much don’t like this demand that HE ALONE can provide that attentive adult supervision and the suggestion that simply because you DO like the dog (or have defended it in the past) you can’t be trusted to protect your children? What in the what??

Also on one hand, your sister does sound like a very loving and responsible dog owner who has done everything she can to help with the dog’s aggressive tendencies. But…honey, not everybody is going to love your dog, calm down and stop taking it so personally. Just like not everybody is going to love my children, or be happy with me if I bring them to a 5-star fancy restaurant and then insist that the kitchen find a way to serve them chicken nuggets after they’ve thrown food on the floor. She should not have put you in the position of lying by omission, and she also shouldn’t be using her dog as a pawn in the weird power struggle she and your husband are now locked in. “I’m ALWAYS bringing the dog JUST to PISS HIM OFF and I guess I’ll SEE YOU NEVER” is just…frankly pretty childish. And I have to wonder if this poor dog really IS happier being dragged to all these family gatherings rather than staying home with a familiar human/the fiance, or is being unnecessarily triggered by unfamiliar people and places.

(Full disclosure to anyone having a kneejerk reaction to the fact that the dog is a pit bull. I have a rescue pittie mix myself and am a huge lover/advocate for the breed. They are wonderful, wonderful dogs and if the husband here was/is overreacting out of pure breed prejudice, I would smack him down to next Sunday. But no matter what the breed, any dog with abuse/neglect in his past and nervous behavior issues in the present is not going to be well-served by being dragged into triggering situations out of spite.)

But if the dog is going to be there, and everybody else is okay with the fact that the dog is going to be there, I do think your husband needs to quit with the insistence that HE and HE ALONE can be trusted to be the responsible adult/lone protector of your children. That’s…really kind of insulting, seeing that you are THEIR MOTHER. He obviously feels like everybody else thinks he’s overreacting to the dog’s behavior (and maybe he is in general, but he is the person who did actually get bit by the dog) and nobody is taking this four-legged threat to his children’s safety seriously, but…that’s probably anxiety talking. His children are surrounded by adults who love them at these gatherings and presumably watch them closely at all times. What does HE do, in particular, that keeps them safe that no one else is doing already, other than obsess/fixate on the dog situation the entire time?

(Second full disclosure: I also have terrible anxiety! I know me some anxiety! I have absolutely made similar mental deals with myself over triggering situations! And surprise! THEY ARE NOT ACTUALLY REASONABLE OR HELPFUL.)

You do owe him an apology (if you haven’t given him one already) by letting your sister pull you into a deceitful situation, which yeah, was 1,000% going to end with him finding out and making everything so much worse. (I get that your sister put you in a tough spot, as did he, but unfortunately  the way you handled it just further entrenched his beliefs about your judgment, so it’s best to own that one.) What SHOULD have happened, if we’re looking at 20/20 hindsight here: You should have pushed back on the “I have to be there if the dog is there because I question your judgment” rule, and insisted that yes, you are aware the dog has some behavior quirks/issues and are fully capable of both liking the dog and PROTECTING YOUR OWN CHILDREN. You also should have spoken more honestly with your sister about your husband’s fears and brought her in as an ally — i.e. “Does your trainer have any specific suggestions on how we can get them to have some successful interactions, given Fido’s mistrust of men?” — rather than “finesse” the situation.

(I bet you five bucks that an actual dog trainer would suggest something gradual and controlled [and involving lots of treats], and would absolutely NOT suggest “oh just keep bringing the dog to a ton of big family gatherings until the adult male with dog anxiety and the dog with adult male anxiety just magically get used to each other.” That’s a bad plan!!)

But what’s done is done, and honestly I DON’T know how to easily fix things, since the two people who are actually capable of fixing things don’t want anything to do with each other, and are far too entrenched in Being Right About This. I do think you can (and should) push back on your husband’s rule/belief that you can’t be trusted around both the dog and your children. Ask him what it is, exactly, that you think he does around the dog that keeps them safe and that you do not. (Be prepared to hear a justification for obsessing/fixating.) Offer to join him for a therapy session or two to work through the situation there. (I am hoping he is in therapy in addition to medication? If not, this situation is worth moving in that direction, both as a couple and him individually.) Try to make peace with your sister, explain that your husband is working through things and really didn’t intend for her to take everything so personally, but you understand now why she did, you should have spoken to her sooner, blah blah.

And then make it VERY VERY CLEAR to BOTH OF THEM that you are no longer getting put in the middle of their crap. You are no longer Switzerland here. If you believe the dog does not pose a threat to your children and that you are capable of ensuring their safety in the dog’s presence, then you are going to whatever family gathering you want to go to. If you believe your sister is being irresponsible and bringing the dog into situations she shouldn’t, then you are going to stay home. If she’s mad at your husband and he’s mad at her, they can fix their own damn relationship. If the situation continues to put strain on your marriage because of your husband’s anxiety or refusal to budge on anything, go to therapy, because that’s the relationship you CAN do something about.

And of course, continue to teach, demonstrate and reinforce how to safely interact with dogs — including familiar ones like your sister’s — with your children.

 

Photo source: Depositphotos/graphicphoto

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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Kerry
Guest
Kerry

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the husband to expect to be included in any decisions about how much exposure his two year old, who does not live in a household with dogs and may not be particularly savvy around them, is going to have to a pit bull who occasionally bites people. It also doesn’t seem unreasonable of the husband to be worried that, if he’s not personally present, the wife’s family is going to ignore his concerns about the dog and pressure the wife into ignoring them too….evidence is pretty strong that that’s exactly what will happen. For… Read more »

Carolyn Russell
Guest

“my biggest pet peeve is dog owners who assure me that their dog will “be fine” around my little kids.” <– THIS! We are not a dog family but my kids are generally cautiously interested in dogs. We have a neighbor with some little dogs and they always encourage the kids to come pet them and play with them because they're "great with kids!" . . . and then the dog lunges and tries to nip their hands and the kids freak out and then the dog freaks out and then the kids are terrified of all dogs for 6… Read more »

CKD1
Guest
CKD1

I’m the opposite of that type of dog owner. We have a very cute, sweet-natured dog and people are drawn to her. Which is fine! But parents are constantly trying to get their kids who aren’t so sure or are straight-up afraid to “pet her!” or “say hi!” I am fine with that and teach the kids to let her smell a hand, don’t just lunge at her or try to grab her face, etc. IF THE KID WANTS TO ENGAGE. I don’t like seeing kids being forced to interact with dogs, and don’t want MY dog to be part… Read more »

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

Nope. A dog who bites once is a dog who bites. The husband is not being unreasonable and the sister needs to back off and grow up. And I LOVE dogs, grew up with dogs, volunteer with dogs. But the husband (not unreasonably) feels that the dog threatens him and his children, and the letter writer’s family seems to not get that, at all, in making excuses for the sister and her dog. The sister pretty much forced the letter writer to lie to her husband and seems to want to put the letter writer in the postion of choosing… Read more »

SL
Guest
SL

As the owner of three (rescue) dogs and the foster dog mom of about 12 more, I think the sister is being irresponsible, and the husband is being irrational. Sister is NOT setting dog up for success by bringing an anxious dog with a history of fear issue to large family gatherings full of (basically) strangers. It’s not fair to the dog. Leave him home. As far as husband thinking that his wife and MOTHER OF THE KIDS won’t keep them safe, that sounds like a much bigger personal issue that needs to be dealt with.

Ashley
Guest
Ashley

Oh my. I think Amy makes some really great points here, but I really have to side with the husband here a little more. These kids are really small and this dog dig actually BITE him—I think that was a little too glossed over. At the end of the day, it is a dog and I would be fairly livid if I had to continue to be exposed to a dog that has literally attacked me. I would be especially enraged if my kids had to be exposed to it. Add in some marital trust issues and anxiety and I… Read more »

hayesmary
Guest
hayesmary

Wow. The dog “has a history of nipping people, growling and other anxious dog behaviors, especially men when he is nervous. He once came over the fence at a neighbor and the neighbor felt so threatened as to call animal control.” “This dog has growled at (the husband), bit him and once, growled at my children.” I’m going to put on my yelling pants here: THIS DOG SHOULD NOT BE AROUND YOUR CHILDREN, LETTER WRITER. YOU NEED TO STAND UP TO YOUR DIFFICULT SISTER. THIS DOG IS A THREAT TO YOUR CHILDREN. This is not the fault of the dog.… Read more »

Kerry
Guest
Kerry

I missed that the dog growled at the children. That’s the dog letting you know how much it enjoys having the children around. Respect its wishes.

Audrey
Guest
Audrey

Fellow large dog owner (GSD) – Keeping kids away from dogs isn’t a good answer (they are everywhere and husband won’t always be there to intervene) and dragging a dog to an uncomfortable situation that triggers aggressive behavior isn’t good for anyone either. Is it possible for the husband, kids, mom, and sister to attend a dog training seminar together? Preferably in a familiar environment to the dog? I’d bet dollars to donuts that the dog isn’t being introduced to people properly, and as an owner of a large, dominant dog I can tell you that one of my biggest… Read more »

Carolyn
Guest
Carolyn

This would be my reaction too, if this dog hadn’t ALREADY BITTEN THE HUSBAND. I don’t think it is reasonable to ask the husband to attend a training seminar with this dog or try to force the husband to interact with this dog. I think the sister is unreasonable in thinking that her dog, WHICH HAS BITTEN HER BROTHER-IN-LAW, has any right to interact with him or her nieces/nephews. I also take issue with “most of the time the cues that a dog is uncomfortable with a situation show up well before any incidents occur.” The key phrase there is… Read more »

Audrey
Guest
Audrey

Carolyn – I certainly didn’t mean for you to take issue with my comment. My intent was merely to provide a possible solution. Most of the comments I read were concentrated on assigning blame, and while I can certainly understand their points (and even agree with them to some extent) the OP has made it clear in her letter that assigning blame to one person isn’t going to fix the problem. The sister isn’t willing to leave the dog at home (this would be the solution I would personally use if it were my dog). The husband isn’t willing to… Read more »

Anne
Guest
Anne

I actually am going to side with the husband. If there was a dog in our family that had ALREADY BITTEN me, I would actually question everyone else’s judgement as well – no matter the breed, a dog that has these issues should not be around little kids. You never know – they are animals after all. And it’s no fault of the dogs, either. That poor thing probably has no desire to be in situations in which it feels threatened. That whole family needs to take a step back and reevaluate – why would you risk a dog bite… Read more »

Lily
Guest
Lily

Commenters are spot on today! Amy, you dispense great advice, and I agree that there’s a lot of interpersonal drama here that needs to be dealt with. But a dog that has bitten someone, of any breed, should never be around children. Children don’t always know how to act around dogs, or might accidentally trigger something distressing for the dog. I love dogs, but if a dog has bitten me I would never allow it near my children. Letter writer, please protect your kids!

cupcakemuffin
Guest
cupcakemuffin

LW, I’m sorry but I do think your perspective here is a little warped. Yes, your sister may think of her dog as family…but at the end of the day, the dog is an animal and your husband//kids are human beings…and they are human beings who have ALREADY been harmed/threatened by the animal in question. This is not in any way a statement on all dogs or all pitbulls, but it sounds like this particular dog has already demonstrated quite dangerous behavior, and training has not been entirely successful. Frankly, given your attitude in the letter, I don’t think I’d… Read more »

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

I have a dear friend who has rescued two dogs, both with histories of abuse. These are large dogs, both easily over 75 pounds. My friend has had both in obedience classes and refreshers from the day she adopted them. She is constantly posting adorable pictures of them cuddled up with her, her husband, or their toys. These dogs love my friend and her husband. Other people–not so much, to the point that when there is a guest in the house, one of the dogs needs to be muzzled at all times and both need to be kept on short… Read more »

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

Not necessarily. My SIL got bitten on the face by a tiny dog (not sure of the breed) and had to have something like 4 surgeries and could barely eat. Affected her life in a huge way. I think people are naturally more wary around larger dogs but small dogs can be even more aggressive to make up for their (lack of) size and can absolutely be just as dangerous, especially to small children.

Angie Gaul
Guest
Angie Gaul

I’ve known some wonderful pitbulls and had a part-Rottweiler rescue (who was a flower girl in my wedding!) for 14 wonderful years. The truth is that a pitbull is a muscular breed with strong jaws. It’s in their physiology. One of our favorite pitbull buddies at a dog beach where we used to live in Florida LOVED to swim out into the waves to fetch tossed toys. She was famous for snapping sticks and Chuck-its and plastic toys with a high “Chew-o-meter” rating when she’d swim with them, just because her jaws were so strong when she had her chin… Read more »

Caroline Bowman
Guest
Caroline Bowman

this completely. ”my sister is hurt and so is my mom”. How hurt would they be when you strangled them with your bare hands because your two year old got his face ripped off? More or less hurt? Seriously. The dog, through no fault of its own, is not a good mix with small children. It just isn’t. Prioritising sister having a tantrum over her grandchildren’s safety? Nope.

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

My aunt and uncle have a puppy. Turns out that puppy has temperament issues that were not apparent when they got him, and Uncle is working hard (and investing money) to train puppy to be a safe pet. I 100% do not trust ANYONE other than Uncle to control puppy when he is around my toddler. Aunt is too permissive and even my DH and I, who love dogs and would happily play with puppy on our own, do not know puppy and his issues well enough to control him around our curious, active and unpredictable toddler. And this is… Read more »

Daisy
Guest
Daisy

If the dog has bitten someone (sounds like it has, if I’m reading correctly) then I am 100% in agreement that the dog should never be around children. This shouldn’t be a question. I know it is hard, and it feels personal, but it isn’t. Ultimatums are not good things in a marriage, but on this, I side 100% with the husband. I’d put my foot down on this as well, and I’m confused why a whole lot of other adults don’t see the issue with a dog who has bitten being around children.

CKD1
Guest
CKD1

Yeah, that’s the part that I find craziest, honestly. Your dog is more important than your brother-in-law and nephews? WHAT? Even the grandma/mom to OP and dog owner seems more concerned about not hurting her daughter’s feelings than her grandbabies’ safety. I’m a crazy dog person and if someone tells me “I’m not super comfortable around dogs” I don’t bring her or force interactions and the most my dog will do is try to lick you!

Lauren E
Guest
Lauren E

I totally agree! I have a teeny 5lb Morkie and when anyone new comes to our house the first thing I ask is if they are ok with my dog. If they aren’t, we move his pen to our bedroom and shut the door. Part of being a responsible, respectful pet owner is understanding that there are many people in this world who are afraid of dogs or simply do not like them. I would never want to make someone in my home uncomfortable.

Kat
Guest
Kat

So, a good friend has a 2 year old grandson. Grandson was at a different relative’s house. Grandson walked near a large rescue dog that was eating. Dog had no previous history of aggression. Dog turned and bit the child on the head. Child had to be life-flighted to a trauma center with major facial and neck wounds. Grandson nearly lost his eye and had to get over 50 stitches. The dog had to be put down. It’s not fair to either the dog or the children to expose them to situations that are dangerous to both.

deislily
Guest
deislily

Can we not make the charitable assumption here that Dad is saying that he has to be the supervisor at least in part because he’s a big dude who might actually stand a chance at pulling a pitbull off of a child?? And then there’s the reality that someone who’s sanguine about a dog that’s actually dangerous (. . . which this one is; it bites people) might leave the dog unattended for a moment, and honestly, a moment is all it takes. When my firstborn was such a little baby that he could sit up but not move, I… Read more »

EmilyG
Guest
EmilyG

I’m on the husband’s side here, too. Our family dog attacked our son– it only takes a moment. She was 75 lbs and he was 3 years old. Luckily I was able to pull her off of him and he just has a few scars on his head (mainly in his hair), but I will ALWAYS live with the guilt of not rehoming her when she first snapped at him. We thought we could watch them closely enough that they would both be ok, but they weren’t. A dog who has already bitten your husband and who growls at your… Read more »

Becca
Guest
Becca

This one legitimately scares me … I worked with a woman whose granddaughter was dragged off by a dog with known aggression issues (the child did not survive). My husband was bitten by his grandfathers dog and my MIL did nothing because she didn’t want to cause a fuss … suffice it to say I have feelings about this issue. Dogs are awesome, we’ve had dogs (right now we have been adopted by two cats😊) … but no dog who had bitten me (and growled at my kids) would -ever- be allowed near my kids. Full stop and no further… Read more »

Maggie
Guest
Maggie

I think it’s unfair of the letter writers sister to put her dog in this situation in the first place. I have a young, but fully grown German Shepherd and he’s been known to nip. I would never want him around children, especially children of someone who is uncomfortable around dogs to begin with. Children are unpredictable and I would never want a child to be in a position to antagonize my dog. That’s a recipe for the dog to feel attacked and defensive which puts him at risk! Parents, especially if they’re already uncomfortable with dogs, are less likely… Read more »

Maggie
Guest
Maggie

If I were the letter writer’s sister, I’d be more uncomfortable with strange children around my dog, and want to keep my dog home for his own safety and peace of mind.

Caroline Bowman
Guest
Caroline Bowman

Thing is… the dog has already had animal control called on it once because – incredibly – a neighbour felt all twitchy when a raging pitbull jumped a fence and came for him. Go figure. I have witnessed a pitbull tear the throat out of my labrador while she lay there and wailed. This dog was previously very friendly, great with kids and never a known problem. They, as with most other breeds of dog, are unpredictable, and are naturally somewhat aggressive and built to win fights. This particular dog has a very sad history and is obviously basically a… Read more »

Lauren E
Guest
Lauren E

NO NO and NO. If the dog bites, your HUSBAND is right here. My sister’s now-husband had a dog when they were dating and sounded just like this one–aggressive with men and occasionally nips/bites–and one night the dog snapped and attacked my sister. Thankfully she was able to run and lock herself in the bathroom, but not before ending up needing 47 stitches and permanent nerve damage in her arm. I wouldn’t let my children anywhere near your sister’s dog. Your husband may be approaching it in the wrong way by seeming he doesn’t trust you, but mostly I question… Read more »

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

Hoo, boy. What a giant mess. I’m a dog lover. We currently have three rescued greyhounds–who all have some history of mistreatment at the least, and very likely were abused (the industry is deplorable). We’ve had large dogs (60 pounds and larger) for more than 20 years. While greyhounds are generally not aggressive with people, I am very cautious and watchful of my dogs when there are young children around. Especially children who are not comfortable or familiar with dogs. You just never know what will trigger a reaction, doubly so with a rescued dog who has a history of… Read more »

Annie
Guest
Annie

I have a pit mix who we rescued and is adorable and loving with us, but also anxious and protective. She was definitely abused before we got her. We also have a one year old, who the dog tolerates and sometimes likes. We did training and bootcamp and she is on meds, but she still has outbursts and gets really stressed out, especially when she is in a new place or when there are a lot of people around. My family doesn’t have any other children or dogs, but some members have some dog anxiety in the first place. We… Read more »

Bast2112
Guest
Bast2112

Trazadone is great for anxious dogs. It’s great because you can give it to them 2 hours before a stressful situation and they are good for about 8 hours.

Tiffany
Guest
Tiffany

My initial reaction is that I tend to side with the husband, too, for a few reasons: – Other people in this family (sister, mom) who in other circumstances could be trusted to watch the dog have had what sounds like unreasonable pro-dog reactions. So can they really be trusted to be that viligant? Are they able or willing to admit fault in the dog? – The writer, and her sister, haven’t always been completely honest with him. I’m not sure I could be comfortable at this point either. Lying about the dogs presence can slide to lying about its… Read more »

Kerry2
Guest
Kerry2

This whole situation (and tragic stories in the comments) make me sick to my stomach. Husband is 100% in the right here. I can’t help but feel like there is some sort of weird bias (perhaps sexism?) towards the husband, both in sister and mom’s reaction and in Amy’s response to OP. This dog fucking jumped a fence to go after a neighbor, growled at the children and fucking BIT the husband. He questions OP’s ability to protect the kids. Geez, what a controlling jerk! How offensive! /s Suppose the dad was the one with questionable judgment, and did something… Read more »

K
Guest
K

Wow. I’m super surprised at Amy’s stance on this. I’ve read posts from her in the past about kid and dog interactions and they’ve been much more “unsafe dog? No kids, full stop” – this sounds a lot more like “I don’t care that her husband is concerned for their childrens’ safety, and I don’t care about united front when it comes to dealing with family issues”. For what it’s worth, I agree with almost every single commenter – this dog BIT someone. It has growled at children, and has a history of nervous and unpredictable behavior that displays as… Read more »

Leslie
Guest
Leslie

What’s missing from your letter is YOUR gut instinct about this poor dog, and I think you know what it is. I came to this column to search for advice about my sister, who has also put me in a very similar situation in the past. Even though I was always confident that I was a smart, independent person, several years of weekly therapy have given me the ability to recognize how I was actually NOT standing up for myself in the past, particularly in family situations. Getting to that point for yourself is life-changing. I can’t recommend good therapy… Read more »