A Rotten Dog that Bites Doesn’t Like Kids?

I was reading through some blog posts when I found a post about a friend’s rotten dog.  She determined that her friend has a rotten dog because it bit… and based on two biting incidents (I don’t know the details of the first), she seems to have come to the conclusion that the dog has decided that it doesn’t like children.

Rotten Dog Hates Children? (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

Can’t you just see the murderous intent in his eyes?

I’m no stranger to a rotten dog.  Winston the Wonder Chihuahua is a terrible little dog, but oh, how I love him.  And Norton loves him.  And really, he loves Norton.  However, he’s also nipped Norton.  I’ve said that each and every time it was not the dog’s fault.  It was not Norton’s fault.  It was my fault for not separating them fast enough.  And I have very passionate viewsabout the decision to bring a loving family pet into your home: it’s for a lifetime.  Sure, sometimes a pet can be successfully rehomed, but there are times when a loving family pet is so devoted to a family member that rehoming is not an option.  If you’ve ever seen a dog pine for its master, then you know it’s a sad, sad thing.

Here’s the thing, though: Winston will bite Norton if I don’t prevent Norton from hurting him with his aggressive toddler behavior.  And that’s my fault for not protecting Winston fast enough so that Winston felt the need to do it himself.  There is no creature in the world that will sit back and take being pinched and hit and just plain hurt.

And you know what else?  Winston still loves children.  He loves Norton and has gone back to wanting to play with him… especially when we’re outside.  He’s more wary of Norton, but he still really wants to love Norton, and he really wants to feel like Norton loves him back.  When our friend stops by with her little girl, Winston cries and cries until I let him upstairs.  Yes, her mother knows that Winston has nipped because Norton hurt him.  She also knows that we’re right there supervising and that her daughter knows that she can’t pinch the puppy.  When there are groups of little kids, he’s okay if a couple of them pet him, but when they swarm, he gets nervous.  And when he gets nervous, he comes to me.  That’s not a dog that hates children.  That’s a dog that hates being hurt.

Which tells me that my rotten dog is actually a pretty reasonable small family dog.  Have you ever had a rotten dog?

Originally written September 5, 2011.  Update: Winston has nipped Norton since then… and I have to say that generally, Norton deserves it by doing mean things like headbutting him or the like.  Winston still loves Norton, but is very wary of him because of how rough Norton can be.  I will say, though, that Winston nipped me the other day when he was going for Norton… and it hurt.  It was meant to hurt, I think, because Norton was not respecting Winston’s repeatedly telling him “No!”  However, it didn’t break the skin.  Eudora is much gentler with Winston and pets him nicely.  Winston has never shown her the slightest hint of irritation, even though Eudora is the same age now as Norton was when I originally wrote this.  In fact, he just plain adores her.

T’akaya the Brilliant Border Collie has even nipped at Norton.  Considering the amount of his garbage that she puts up with before even growling, I can’t blame her.  And she’s nipped me before when going for Norton.  I was actually relieved to know how she’ll nip: she’s the bigger dog and the one that I’d have worried more about hurting him.  Fortunately, her nips are border collie nips: designed to keep the herd in line.  She’s far from a rotten dog.

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. I was already laughing before I even read a word of this post. The look on his face rivals even my famous mama evil eye!
    Anne Sweden recently posted…Green Toys Help Keep Toddlers Happy During School (Plus a Giveaway!)My Profile

  2. Guess I’m super lucky that our beagle has never bitten! She’s 11 years old, but very patient… hopefully that lasts!
    Ashley S recently posted…Congrats to the Boston Red Sox for Making Postseason 2013! ~ #MLB #GetBeardMy Profile

    • Beagles are phenomenally patient. In fact, the top three dogs for children are Beagles, Pugs, and Puggles (Beagle/Pug cross). If I were to ever deliberately shop for a mixed breed dog (as opposed to rescuing one from a shelter like we did our T’akaya), it would be a Beagle/Pug cross.

  3. This is such a cute dog. Reminds of my dog growing up.
    Sabrina Dix recently posted…Coupon: $1.25 off Tazo Chocolate Chai Latte ConcentrateMy Profile

  4. Can’t say I blame dogs for nipping a little when toddlers are yanking their ears/fur/tail, or poking their eyes..
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  5. I’ve never had a pup (ever!), so this is a general fear of mine when it comes to pets of any kind. I wish that I had had a pet growing up so I didn’t have such a fear of them. I can’t wait to buy my girls a dog so they can grow to love them unlike me 🙂
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  6. He looks fierce 🙂 I agree with you, when you get a pet it should be forever. I understand that sometimes circumstances change, but 99% of the time a pet is forever. I have always had cats but for the past 8 years I haven’t had one because as a renter I couldn’t guarantee that I would be able to give a cat a home forever. When we bought our house a few months ago one of the first things I did when we were unpacked was run down to the shelter to get that kitty that I missed having so much.
    Regan recently posted…I Think It Might Be Time to Buy a Potty Seat. Nooooo!My Profile

  7. I’m not into pets really especially dogs. Got trauma when I was a kid a dog bitten me. That was a traumatic experience though your dog looks cute still I won’t dare to have my own! Haha
    lalalapatricia recently posted…Beach bumMy Profile

    • Oh, no! I’m so sorry that you had that experience. Not all dogs are little nippers eagerly awaiting the opportunity to rip your face off. I promise.

  8. Both of my small dogs have nipped my daughter. But I would bite her too if she sneaked up on me and grabbed my tail or ears. She also taunts both dogs and then tries to get them in trouble. She is the little stinker in this baby-dog relationship.
    Heather Johnson recently posted…Tasty Bite ReviewMy Profile

  9. We have an amazing older border collie/black lab cross. I trust him completely but I still am only just starting to let my 3.5 year old play with him unsupervised. I know that my dog would always flee before biting but I also WILL NOT let my children abuse him. We work very hard to teach the kids how to treat the dog nicely and with respect because another dog may not be so patient with them. It is so adorable to watch Rundle (my dog) get excited when he sees my boys and he gets his ball to play fetch. Surprisingly he actually listens and obeys my 2 year old when he is told to sit or stay or lay down!

    • Our border collie cross is actually used as a baby-sitter when Norton plays outside in the fenced in backyard. She “tattles” when Norton does something he shouldn’t by using a specific bark, and I check outside through the window every five minutes (or unless I hear a noise).

  10. I know that some dogs don’t like it when little kids play rough with them. I have two smaller dogs and they are okay with my youngest son as long as he isn’t too rough. I feel that if you have a dog who bites when they are scared that you carefully watch your children around them. You also should take the time to teach your child to be gentle with the puppy. This is what we have done with our dogs and so far it has worked out fairly well.
    Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families recently posted…Godly Home: Teaching Your Child To Accept Our DifferencesMy Profile

  11. We don’t have a dog but we don’t want our son growing up afraid of animals, so we have our friend bring over his dog on occasion. The dog gets to play in our pool and our son gets to play with a dog, so it’s win win. Our son is a little rough with the dog, but we try really hard to make our son realize he has to be gentle. It’s tough with a seven month old though, so I’m surprised that our friend’s dog has been as patient with our son as she has.

  12. There is a difference between nipping and biting. A lot of dogs nip for herding purposes or to warn. We need to train dogs and teach kids to be respectful Not always easy I know lol. My Australian Shepherd nipped if he thought were were being dangerous lol.
    Ashleigh Swerdfeger recently posted…My Bubz 17-18 MonthsMy Profile

  13. My mom used to watch this little boy who was a little terror to one of our dogs (she ran a daycare out of our home). Separating them did not work because this boy would hunt our dog down no matter where she was. I only remember her actually biting him once. That was when he unlocked our family room door where she was taking a nap on a recliner and threw himself on her. Yeah, she bit him in the face. Only one puncture, but she nearly got him in the eye. I was a little too slow chasing him to stop him.
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  14. Jessica Long says:

    I have had lots and lots of Chihuahuas and for the most part they are NOT child friendly dogs. THey are very very small and vulnerable and children often grab them or intimidate them. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Chihuahuas but Not for families with small children

    • It’s that whole “we had the dog first” thing. He does, however, absolutely love Eudora. She’s at the same age now that Norton was when he started getting too rough, and she’s still sweet and gentle with him. The problem is that Norton just does not learn.

  15. We have 2 cats and our toddler has started to seek them out just to smack them. :/ Our 4 year old cat will just run away since she is faster than him but our 9 year old cat tends to just sit there and sorta takes it. The last time on toddlers attacks, our 9 year old nipped him to warn him but im sure he would have bit him harder if our son would have kept going. I will never punish our cat if he bites him because our son needs to learn and if that is what it takes (since clearly yelling at him or telling him to be gentle does not) then so be it.

  16. Our dog is like this, he does not tolerate toddler abuse… and why should he? He’s a little dog, it’s not fair to expect him to tolerate being hit, pushed, yelled at, chased, pinched… *insert your toddlers favorite habit here*

    We had to keep him separate from my niece for the longest time, because she LOVED him and wouldn’t leave him alone, and he was genuinely terrified of her squeaky little voice and her hyper toddler movements. Now that she’s 4, she knows how to treat our dog with kindness and he’s learned that she’s a person too (Not a scary monster) and she sometimes hands out treats 🙂

    Its important to recognize that pets shouldn’t get punished for growling or warning bites… This is how they communicate they feel unsafe. If we punished them for warning behaviors, we won’t stop the fear they have, instead we’ll teach them to hide their fear until they explode.

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