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Topic : 03/30 Is This Normal?

Number of Replies: 1000
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Created on : Friday, January 20, 2006, 03:07:28 pm
Author : DrPhilBoard1

(Original Air Date: 01/25/06) Have you ever found yourself in a bizarre situation? Do you think the people around you are acting unusual, and you want to know why? Dr. Phil helps his guests distinguish what's normal and what's not. First up, Lynette doesn't think it's normal for her 78-year-old father, Forrest, to want to be a country music star. Forrest feels like his daughter is discriminating against him because he's old. Then, Suzie says her husband, Steve, won't get rid of the family dog -- even though it recently bit their baby girl in the face, and she had to be rushed to the hospital! Steve wants to know if he's crazy for wanting the dog back in the house. Plus, a guest says she's able to see into the future and wants to know if she should alert her friends to the visions she has about them. Share your thoughts.

 

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January 24, 2006, 4:15 pm CST

my daughter comes first

 My daughter is 11 and the dog a mastiff was almost 3. This was my daughters buddy, she loved that dog very much. The dog had snapped at her a couple of times over the year. I don't know why he did and it didn't scary my daughter away from him so we did some behavior training, had the dog seem by 2 behavior specialist who told me it was a puppy thing and he would grow out of it.They said the dog was just trying to see who he could dominate, as my daughter was the only one he snapped at. In December he bit her on her hand and drew blood. That was it for me No need to wait and see how much further he would go with his domanation. It took me 10 minutes to get dressed and take that dog to the shelter. This was a family dog who was loved and well taken care of, He stayed in the house and was always at our side. I got lucky it was just my daughters hand. I don't think I could live with myself If he would have scarred her face. I know I made the right decision getting that dog out of our home. We told my daughter he was going to find another home without kids but that is not really the truth. I wouldn't have wanted that dog to go to another home where he could bite again.  

Suzy,  put your foot down and keep your child safe, tell your husband the dog goes or he goes. 

 
January 24, 2006, 4:27 pm CST

01/25 Is This Normal?

i am actually a little surprised there are responses to this before the show has even aired and all the details are given.  

  

each bite incident needs to be judged on its own merits. you cannot say just because the dog bit the child once that it would ever even happen again. there are dogs that are just not good with kids and then there are dogs who are perfectly fine with children but may have reacted to a certain situation the only way a dog can communicate ... with its mouth.  

  

i had a dog who did bite my son when he was 3. my dog was older and arthritic and my son thought it was great fun to try and ride him. the dog didnt find it amusing and gave my son several growls before he turned around and bit him. my son learned a very valuable lesson that day. he didnt listen to me to get off the dog, he didnt know what to watch out for in dog language, but he certainly learned what was appropriate behavior around animals from that day forward. my dog had never done anything like that before or afterwards.  

 
January 24, 2006, 6:09 pm CST

Dog Bites?

I have a 90 pound German Shepherd and no children.  There were a number of small children in my neighborhood and from the start the dog was trained that children were special and were to be protected.  Every child on the block participated in her initial training and all loved her.  She was taught and knows that a child is not allowed to pet her unless she sits down.  Having said that - Would I leave her alone unattended with a child, NO.  People and families have responsibilites when it comes to their children and their pets.  They both need to be taught to respect the other.  That does not mean that  all dogs can be allowed near children, other pets, or some people and no family should keep a pet that has been proven to be untrustworthy around their child.  On the other hand many children are bitten daily because their parents have not taken the time to teach them to respect the family pet or other animals.  A dog can not be expected to repeatedly accept Little Billy's fingers in it's eyes or pulling it's tail.  Responsibly owning a pet is a life-time commitment, they are not throw-aways.  Most families should wait until children are old enough to accept the responsibility of having a pet before getting one.  Young couples who have had a pet and treated it as a surrogate child, before having children are probably too immature to have either.  My dog is my companion, she shares my home, she is more than "just a dog," but I have taken every measure available to me to make sure that she has acceptable social behaviors and does not overtly show aggression.  She happily accepts anyone I welcome into my home, but that does not mean that she would not attack someone who threatened me.  The bottom line is that if my dog, unprovoked, did as much damage to any child as the Dalmation in the upcoming show did, I would have her put down.  If she was provoked (i.e., repeatedly teased or hit by a child that she could not get away from) I would take into to consideration the actions of the chlld and make sure there was no chance of further interaction between the dog and the child.
 
January 24, 2006, 11:52 pm CST

I can relate

Quote From: sansan

 My daughter is 11 and the dog a mastiff was almost 3. This was my daughters buddy, she loved that dog very much. The dog had snapped at her a couple of times over the year. I don't know why he did and it didn't scary my daughter away from him so we did some behavior training, had the dog seem by 2 behavior specialist who told me it was a puppy thing and he would grow out of it.They said the dog was just trying to see who he could dominate, as my daughter was the only one he snapped at. In December he bit her on her hand and drew blood. That was it for me No need to wait and see how much further he would go with his domanation. It took me 10 minutes to get dressed and take that dog to the shelter. This was a family dog who was loved and well taken care of, He stayed in the house and was always at our side. I got lucky it was just my daughters hand. I don't think I could live with myself If he would have scarred her face. I know I made the right decision getting that dog out of our home. We told my daughter he was going to find another home without kids but that is not really the truth. I wouldn't have wanted that dog to go to another home where he could bite again.  

Suzy,  put your foot down and keep your child safe, tell your husband the dog goes or he goes. 

 
January 25, 2006, 1:57 am CST

01/25 Is This Normal?

I can relate to stephanie who is afraid of being alone.  I was watching the show with my husband and he said 'honey you are on tv'.  I felt like I was.  I find myself doing a lot of the same thing she does like locking the doors at night and jumping at every noise I hear.  If my husband leaves for work in the morning before I take a shower I will bring the phone in the bathroom with me and lock the door.  I will also look out of the shower every minute or two to make sure the lock hasn't moved so I know no one is trying to get in there to hurt me.  My husband tells me we live in a very safe gated community gaurded by people with guns....we live on a military base.  That doesn't make me feel safer cause I know that just cause people are in the military doesn't mean they can't snap and there are civilians that have access to base.  What is worse is the my husband is military and sometimes he has to leave for work.  When he does it's really tough for me.  I won't sleep upstairs in our bed.  I sleep on the couch with the tv on, the kitchen light on and the phone by my side.  My husband is very against sleeping pills so instead I usually have a couple of drinks to help me fall asleep.  I know that's not good, but after a few restless nights I'll take what I need to to get some sleep even if it's not the best thing for me.  Being so far away from home makes is difficult too ( we are in the UK ).  When my husband is gone I can't just have my mother come over and 'babysit'.  I will call her though and talk to her for hours until we have nothing left to talk about.  Then I'll call my sister.  I don't have a strong fear when my husband is home, we can have the windows open and the doors unlocked, but when we go to bed everything must be closed and locked.   I get scared at night probably because he is sleeping and I feel sort of alone when I can't fall asleep.  I thought I would just outgrow this, that it was just a phase, but I'm finally starting to think I need some help.  I don't know what I'm going to do when my husband has to leave for 3-4 months.  Please help.  I don't know what the root of my worries are.  Unlike Stephanie's upbringing my family never locked the doors.  My mother was never paranoid.  I don't know what to do or where to go.  If anyone can help please let me know.  Thanks.
 
January 25, 2006, 2:51 am CST

Dr. Phil, If he is good, Use your contacts, to help Forrest.

Ask him to donate 25%  to The Dr Phil.  Fund.  If/ when he makes money... 

  

  

  

  

TC  John 

 
January 25, 2006, 4:01 am CST

Ouch my nose.

Hey all, 

  

New here. Just wanted to comment that I was bitten by our family dog at age 15 -- talk about social awkwardness at the time, I had to go to school with a bandage on my nose for weeks, compounded with a black eye, and puffy lip. My father never got rid of the dog, and I was always glad for that. Following advice from our vet, she recommended isolation for our 2-year-old English Setter, since the bite had been one strike then immediate recoil. He was merely protecting himself when I startled him by attempting to play with him. Had he continued to bite, or attack again, he would have been too big a threat to consider keeping. The decision was ours. 

  

I still have the scar on my nose. Not very big, but noticeable to everyone who's ever been in close contact with me. However, it's never affected me even on a career level with modeling or performing. I also love that dog to this day, and I even want to think he's felt sorry for the incident ever since, as we became fast friends the day after the incident nine years ago. It never marred my social life in any way, nor my mental stability, or security around dogs. To those of you concerned about scarring in such a way, I suggest letting go -- the brain's cure-all. 

  

I can't agree more with Dr. Phil's suggestion to the family. As someone who lived it, I think I've earned the right to applaud him. 

  

 
January 25, 2006, 4:47 am CST

Father's Selfish

If the mother loves the child correctly, after discussing the child's safety with the father, if he refuses to consider the child's safety 1st, then the mother should immediately leave the father to protect the child.  That is the right & only choice the mother has because that child depends on parents to correctly care for the child.  Obviously, the father only thinks of himself, selfishly!
 
January 25, 2006, 6:25 am CST

I agree

Quote From: ttmania

i am actually a little surprised there are responses to this before the show has even aired and all the details are given.  

  

each bite incident needs to be judged on its own merits. you cannot say just because the dog bit the child once that it would ever even happen again. there are dogs that are just not good with kids and then there are dogs who are perfectly fine with children but may have reacted to a certain situation the only way a dog can communicate ... with its mouth.  

  

i had a dog who did bite my son when he was 3. my dog was older and arthritic and my son thought it was great fun to try and ride him. the dog didnt find it amusing and gave my son several growls before he turned around and bit him. my son learned a very valuable lesson that day. he didnt listen to me to get off the dog, he didnt know what to watch out for in dog language, but he certainly learned what was appropriate behavior around animals from that day forward. my dog had never done anything like that before or afterwards.  

I agree with you completely.  If the dog is acting out because of a natural reaction you can not punish the dog. 

  

 
January 25, 2006, 6:26 am CST

Re-training aggressive dogs

I'm quite surprised by some of the responses regarding dog bites.  As an expert in several dog-related fields, I can offer some insight into this issue. 

  

First and foremost, aggressive dogs are made, not born.  No puppy is born behaving aggressively.  They learn that behaviour through both desire to control their environments, and as a response to feeling threatened.  They learn what works. 

  

In a responsible and competent home, aggressive behaviours don't work.  They're never successful in controlling the humans in the house (and simply aren't tolerated, at all!) and, in such homes, the dogs are protected from any situations where they might justifiably feel threatened.  Along those same lines, in a responsible and competent home, dogs are taught that nearly every situation they'll encounter in life is not actually a threat to them in any way.  We call this "socialization".  No dog has ever been harmed by the mailman or girl guides selling cookies door to door.  Therefore, no dog should perceive these situations as threatening.  No dog, on the face of this planet, has ever lost even one square inch of territory, simply because another dog has walked by its yard.  This means that every owner who witnesses his/her dog's aggressive behaviour in that kind of situation, is failing to do the right thing if they don't help the dog realize this is not a threatening situation. 

  

(My own perfectly-socialized dogs, for example, are absolutely jumping out of their skin when they see people walk their dogs past my unfenced yard.  It is irresponsible, in most cases, to leave one's dog outside the home unsupervised.  I am always supervising my dogs when they're outside.  My dogs desperately WANT other dogs to come into my yard, for play.  As a responsible dog owner, my dogs have been taught not to step over the curb, and they've been taught to sit whenever they see other dogs approaching.  So, when they see a dog and owner approaching, they sit there, all excited; clearly hoping the other dogs WILL COME ONTO MY PROPERTY for play.  Most of my neighbours know that I welcome this, and usually do come over, much to the delight of my dogs.  I give them a release command once the other dog owner is ready, and off they run and play in my yard.  You see, it is not "natural" for dogs to feel threatened by strange people and dogs.  It is "natural" that both dogs and people will will develop anti-social behaviours if kept from normal socialization experiences, though.) 

  

As far as dog bite statistics are concerned, I am an expert in this area.  Most bites take place inside the home, or on, or directly adjacent to, the owner's property.  In the majority of cases, the dog was inadequately supervised when the bite took place.  Most bite victims are children and most are bitten by a dog they know.  The most common encounters the public has with strange dogs (meeting supervised dogs in public places) accounts for the absolute least number of bites (less than 1%). 

 

**THIS IS KEY:  

 

Every dog attack case I've researched has involved dogs with known histories of aggressive behaviour.  Meaning, as soon as your dog demonstrates it is trying to get its own way through behaviours like stiffened body posture, staring, raised hackles, curled lips, lowered head, growling, snapping, or biting, it is behaving aggressively and will continue to do so (and probably escalate) unless you take active steps to redirect its behaviour.  By allowing the behaviour to continue, a future bite is highly likely.   

  

A dog that has bitten in the past is in the highest category for probability of future bites!   

  

Even when a bite was the first against a human, all the dogs I've researched had prior histories of aggressive behaviour, either towards human, other animals, or both.  Even when it was the first aggressive behaviour towards a human, all the dogs had behaved aggressively towards other animals in the past...usually other dogs.  I wish I had a nickel for every time the owner of a dog involved in an attack said, 'We couldn't have known he'd bite because he'd never behaved aggressively towards people before, only other dogs.' 

 

There are countless cases of dogs whose first bite against a human led to the death of that person, yet they'd attacked (sometimes even having killed) other dogs, in the past. 

  

Aggressive behaviour is aggressive behaviour.  It is not species-specific, as much as many inexpert individuals want to believe it is.  Again, every dog involved in an attack case I've researched, where it was the dog's first aggression incident towards a human, had behaved aggressively towards other animals in the past...and usually those other animals were other dogs.  Statistics simply don't support that idea that dogs won't bite people based merely on who their past victims have been.** 

  

As an adult, it is unlikely you will suffer serious injury caused by a dog.  If you do, it will most likely be your own dog or a dog you know (i.e. a neighbour's dog).  If you have children, your child will most likely be bitten by your own dog, or that of a friend, relative, or neighbour. 

  

The owners of a dog involved in an attack are typcially also the parent, relative, friend, or neighbour of the bite victim.  99% of dogs involved in human fatalities were unneutered males.  When children are killed by dogs, the overwhelming majority were killed by their own dogs. 

  

There are, however, easy ways to prevent the vast majority of dog bites. 

  

  1. Avoid unsupervised dogs.
  2. Never leave children unsupervised with dogs.
  3. Ensure our own dogs are properly trained and adequately supervised at all times outside the home and with children.

 If we took these three, simple steps, we could virtually eliminate unprovoked dog bites in society. 

  

One caution:  The advice to relegate this dog to a "dog run" is absolutely the worst advice ever.  Dogs are pack animals, and it is unnatural for them to be alone.  Dogs that are regularly left alone for long periods of time are likely to develop all sorts of unacceptable behaviours, including aggression.  Many, many of the aggressive dogs I've (successfully!) re-trained, over the years, have come from environments where they were isolated in dog runs most of the time.   

  

Given that dogs are pack animals, and absoultely need social interaction and contact; keeping them isolated is cruel and unethical.  Some shelters/resuces do this out of necessity (to avoid squabbles between dogs, and cut down on the potential for disease transmission, somewhat).  But I can't say this any more succinctly or harshly:  

  

"Anyone who chooses to keep his/her dogs in isolation (such as locked in a cage for long periods of time or living in "runs") should not own dogs, period.  Dogs look to their pack leaders to know when it's time to eat, sleep, play, or feel threatened.  Without their leaders to look to, dogs simply don't know what to do.  When left to their own devices, dogs often make very bad choices. 

  

 

Simply put, dogs belong inside the home, with the ability to be in physical contact with their owners/pack members, and should have all outdoor activities supervised by the owner.  Dog owners are required to provide adequate food, shelter, training, exercise, play, and mental stimulation for their dogs, or they're failing them in the most inhumane way.  A dog is not a toy.  It has needs and rights that supercede the owner's 'convenience.' " 

  

Aggressive behaviour doesn't just go away, and will likely get worse with isolation.  Aggressive dogs require re-training and re-socialization, or they will not be safe to live in human society tomorrow, next year, or ten years from now.  Muzzling, for example, will not prevent dog bites because nearly all bites occur at the precise times when owners are unlikely to have their dogs muzzled, in the first place (i.e. inside the home or in the yard, not in public).  Furthermore, I can guarantee one thing: If we do nothing but isolate or muzzle an aggressive dog, one year from now it will be no less aggressive, and may even be worse. 

  

Owners bear the blame for allowing aggressive behaviours to develop in their dogs.  Having a 100% success rate in re-training aggressive dogs myself, I know that the home environment is key.  However, I am so skeptical about an owner being substantially able to change his/her behaviour (that led to the aggressive behaviour in the first place) that I refuse to work with privately-owned dogs.  I only work with dogs that are to be euthanized in shelters or rescue organizations.   

  

I strongly believe that dogs should be given the opportunity to be properly trained.  If the negligent owner can change his/her ways, then great!  If he/she can't or won't, then the dog must go to a competent trainer, who specializes in working with aggression issues, or the dog must be humanely destroyed.  Dumping an aggressive dog off at a shelter almost guarantees another family will suffer from its dangerous behaviour.  Merely getting rid of the dog and acquiring another also increases the likelihood the new dog will be as incompetently reared as the last one. 

  

Keeping a dog for "guarding" or "protection" is a recipe for encouraging inappropriate aggressive behaviour. 

  

Properly raising dogs is not rocket science, but it is hard, daily work, and it is a life-long commitment.  If you aren't prepared to make sacrifices to ensure your dog isn't a danger or a nuisance to anyone in the community, or if you think a dog is a good form of security, then you should re-think the decision to acquire a dog.  

 
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