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Topic : 03/30 Is This Normal?

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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 25, 2006, 7:39 am CST

01/25 Is This Normal?

Quote From: lamulins

Although not our family dog, Caine belonged to my cousin. My daughter and I drove from N.C. to M.D. for a visit, we were in the house for about 4 hours before the accident happened. My daughter and Caine had been playing together the entire time we had been there. After an outside visit Caine ran full steam into the house, my daughter was holding a stuffed animal and Caine jumped up to get the toy from her which she jerked to the other side of her chest to protect the stuffed animal. So needless to say Caine's bite landed on my daughter's face. He ripped her lip in two spots, gashed an inch long spot just below her eye and barley punctured her chin. This is a nightmare that no parent should have to go through. I completely agree with the mother about not having the dog in the house with her daughter!!!! My daughter has grown up with her grandfather having a large huskie that stays in his yard so every visit she is the first to greet you, it took over 6 months for my daughter not to scream to be carried through the yard and she still does not want the dog to lick her face. She is does see a therapist  that works with a dog and for Christmas we got her a chihuahua. Her scares are not to bad but the plastic surgeon said that we should wait until she is sixteen to do the corrective surgery so that her face is completely through growing. Hopefully the father will understand and side with his families safely.
Although we own a dog who is very much a part of our family - sleeps in our bed, not crated, etc. I was shocked at Dr. Phil's reply to this couple.  Pets are wonderful and I've always had a combination of 1-3 cats/dogs in my household.  However, I think that in general people have become too obsessed with treating pets as humans.  We need to respect that they are animals, however "domesticated" they may be and the health of a child should never be compromised by even the slightest possibility of injury by a pet.  That pet could very well be placed in the home of a childless family.  We need to keep our priorities straight. 
January 25, 2006, 7:43 am CST

Dog should go

 I have to disagree with Dr. Phil on this one. To put that dog in isolation in the kennel isn't the correct way to socialize the dog. Plus, sooner or later the paths of the dog and child will cross. The little girl must be terrified.
The dog needs to go to a  childless home that understands the breed and the disability. Or, he should be put down. He won't be trustworthy again.
January 25, 2006, 7:44 am CST

It's a dog!

What ever happened to his "the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior"?  My dad would tell me stories of his dogs.  The dogs would get old and sick and growing up in the depression wouldn't have money to put them out of their misery so they would shoot them.  I don't even remotely put dogs and children on the same level.  Children are so much more.  I don't think we should be mean at all to any animals.  We should treat them with kindness.  Not spoil them. We will get a dog which will be after the kids are much older and understand how to treat animals.  However, if our children are ever attacked by a dog the dog will die that day!  I won't let the dog hurt any other children EVER. 


And Dr. Phil you might be right about a lot.  But, that dog needs to be taken out of the home! 

January 25, 2006, 7:47 am CST

Dog vs. Child - unbelievable

I am so angry at this idiotic father I can't see straight.  I cannot believe he is choosing his dogs over his child and for him to say that these dogs were his "children" before Jenna is ridiculous.  I am a dog lover and have two myself, but believe me, the first time one of those dogs bites my daughter, no matter how hard, that dog will be put down.  Does he even see the damage that dog did to his daughter?  Did he see the blood spurting from her face?  Did he even care????  The picture of her with the bandages on her face is heartbreaking.  Does he realize that she is scarred for life?  People are constantly going to be asking her what happened to her face and her only answer is going to be, "My dad's dog attacked me."  That should make him feel like the lowest of the low.  I"m not even sure he loves his daughter as much as he loves his dogs.  Very sad. 


Honestly, grow up.  A dog is a dog, but this child is your daughter for life.  She is defenseless and you have a duty to protect her.  Grow up and do it or get out....and take the dogs with you! 

January 25, 2006, 7:50 am CST

Responsible dog ownership

Quote From: mvanbrugge

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%). 




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.  

 You sound like a very knowledgable and devoted dog owner. It is unfortunate that most owners don't realize or care about the responsibility they have to their dogs and other people.  They don't want to put in the time and effort it takes to properly socialize and train their dogs.
But then, people don't want to take the time and effort to socialize their kids. Why should pets be any different? Dogs of course, they can easily dump if they don't behave.
This dog needs to be with someone who understand the breed and this dog's disability. Someone with no children. Or, he needs to be put down.
January 25, 2006, 7:52 am CST

01/25 Is This Normal?

Quote From: roseygoat

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!
 I'd alter that response just a bit. If it were my child, there would be no discussion. I'd have shot that dog on the spot!
January 25, 2006, 7:54 am CST


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.  

The dog bit a baby's face, A BABY'S FACE!   a BABY can't provoke a dog.  a baby?  come on.  We're not talking about some kids messing with a dog and provoking it to act that way.  Even still there are dogs who don't need to be provoked to do something like that.  I've seen it before.  And I've been chased by my share of dogs BY NO FAULT OF MY OWN.  Some things don't need but one fact, thee fact.  The dog bit the BABY'S FACE.  Give the dog away to the SPCA or to someone on a farm where there are no kids.  I can't believe you actually belive what you're saying.  Do you hear it coming out of your mouth.  You choose a dog over a child, a dog over a child's safety or life.  The child don't even have to be yours to make that decision.
January 25, 2006, 7:54 am CST


I also have a deaf dalmatian, Lindsay, that bit my 2 yr old granddaughter, Jasmine.  Lindsay was startled from a dead sleep & came up w/mouth open which is very typical of ANY deaf dog.  For the most part, Dalmatians are most certainly not aggressive. They are wonderful, loving, energetic pets. Jasmine has a small scar on her cheek.  Between the age of 2 & 3, she was bitten a couple of more times by 2 other dogs, none aggressive. As Dr. Phil explained, the height of a 2 yr old subjects them to being bitten in the face. Even though we told her many, many times not to grab them around the neck & hug, she evidently could not resist. Jasmine is now 4 & she & the Dal are best buddies. In dog rescue, we see way too many dogs who have been abandoned because the owner is not responsible and/or caring enough to gain the knowledge to deal with the situation.  A dog is forever, not just until you have a child.   

January 25, 2006, 7:57 am CST

It can happen if u dont care

This happened to my younger sister when she was around 6 years of age.Our dog was a fearsome one but very loving ,obedient and cared all the house members a lot.....was  like a brother to  us.The incident happened only because of my sister's fault, to go near the dog when he usually wanted some privacy like eating food.The thing is my sister was not aware of the situation and it can happen if the kids' ages becomes lower .So its always good not to keep dogs if the kids age is very low and they cannot understand the facts as much as elders.No dog is more understanding than a human being.And as every animal, dogs can be unpredictable sometimes.
January 25, 2006, 8:04 am CST

Stephanie's fears

Dear Dr. Phil, 

       I hope that you will arrange for Stephanie to take an Impact Safety Self-defense class in addition to helping her with controlling her anxiety.  The personal power and self confidence that I gained from my experience in this program has changed my life.  I know it would be very beneficial to Stephanie, as well.  Thanks for listening,  Cheryl Morse  

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