A 28-year-old Redditor’s dog gave her 3-year-old niece a warning growl. Then her 31-year-old brother demanded the dog be put down before he’ll speak to her again.
Now the woman is looking for feedback from the Relationship Advice subReddit.
Redditor throwra_toddlerdog posted:
“My dog growled at my niece after she spent an entire evening harassing him. Now my brother wants me to put the dog down.”
“I have fostered a multitude of dogs in my life, and dealt with a lot of behavioral problems—dog aggression, cat aggression, food aggression, separation anxiety, super high prey drives…I’ve seen it all, and I’ve certainly encountered my fair share of dogs who weren’t safe around small children.”
“So I feel extremely confident in saying my current 5 year-old lab mix is safe for kids. He’s basically a gigantic teddy bear, and loves everyone.”
“However, it’s always been my personal philosophy that dogs (and any other animal, really) should never be left alone with young kids, even if it’s the sweetest, most mild-mannered dog in the world. The kids don’t understand when they’re pushing the dog past its limits, and the dog cannot reasonably be expected to put up with being harassed long after it’s signaled that it would like to be left alone.”
The Original Poster (OP) then detailed her niece’s abusive behavior towards her dog.
“My niece has never been good with my dog. She pulls his tail, climbs on/lays on him, hits him, pulls his ears, gets in his face and yells at him, and never gives him a second to himself unless she’s forced to.”
“He is basically a saint with her, but every dog has its limits. I stay as on-top of this behavior as I can, forcing her to leave him alone when it starts to seem like too much, and locking him away in a bedroom if she won’t.”
Instead of correcting their child’s inappropriate behavior, her brother and sister-in-law minimized the risk the abuse creates for their daughter and the dog.
“My brother and [30-year-old sister-in-law] (SIL) really just don’t get it, though. I’ve tried to talk to them about this behavior a bunch of times, and they know it’s wrong, but they think it’s wrong in the same way that her refusing to share or not picking up her toys is wrong.”
“They don’t understand that it’s dangerous, and that if she was left alone long enough, my dog might lose it and attack her. This has been going on for over a year, I’ve tried to have this conversation with my brother over and over, but he always acts like I’m criticizing his parenting.”
“Which is not the case; I don’t think my niece is especially bratty or out of control for a kid that age, it’s just that this behavior is dangerous to both her and my dog, and it needs constant intervention. The same way that a small kid playing with the stove isn’t especially bratty, it’s just especially dangerous, and needs to be curbed ASAP.”
The OP has gone out of her way to try to educate her brother.
“I even tried having a dog trainer friend explain this to him, and he still didn’t get it.”
Then after a year of constant abuse from the toddler, the dog finally warned her to back off.
“I’ve tried to come up with excuses for why we can never meet at my house for our family hangouts, but I couldn’t think of one the other day, and my brother and niece came over. I was cooking dinner and not paying enough attention to make sure my dog was okay (which was absolutely my fault, and I accept responsibility).”
“I asked my brother a few times to keep her away from my dog, but he kept saying she was fine. I did move my niece away from him a few times, but I wasn’t vigilant enough, and my dog ended up getting to the end of his rope and growling at my niece.”
Once again, the OP had to handle the situation while her brother spectated.
“I immediately grabbed my dog and brought him into my bedroom. I did not punish him at all; frankly, I’m glad that he signaled loud and clear that he was uncomfortable.”
“I would never want to discourage him from doing that, because then next time, he’d skip the growling and go straight to attacking. I came out of the room, ready to talk to my brother about how this is what I’ve been talking about.”
Instead of finally taking his sister’s repeated warnings seriously, her brother demanded she kill her dog.
“But he was furious, yelled that my dog is a menace who should be put down and left.”
The OP said she understood her brother’s knee-jerk reaction, but hoped to make him see reason when he calmed down.
“I completely understood his reaction. That’s his daughter, and he was afraid for her, and nothing else mattered to him.”
“But he hasn’t calmed down at all since this happened, and won’t talk to me except to say my dog needs to be put down and he won’t be speaking to me until it’s done.”
“He’s also tried to involve our parents, who said they will absolutely not be getting involved (they know my niece’s behavior with my dog has been a problem in the past).”
“I have not heard from my SIL at all, which makes me think she might agree with me. Knowing her personality type, I don’t really think she’d sit out a fight like this if she thought my dog was dangerous.”
The OP took some responsibility for what happened.
“The way I see it, this is solely my fault and my brother’s fault.”
“I shouldn’t have allowed my niece to harass my dog; I knew what could happen, and I was more concerned about how upset my brother got when I tried to bring it up, than I was about my niece’s safety. I should’ve just said my niece wasn’t allowed around my dog until she got a bit older, and dealt with whatever fallout there was within my family.”
“Similarly, my brother should’ve kept a better eye on his kid, and not been so defensive when I tried to explain the problem.”
However the dog was not at fault and did not deserve to die.
“My dog, on the other hand, put up with being harassed for over a year, and when he was finally pushed to his limits, signaled very loudly (and harmlessly) that he needed to be removed from the situation. He is not dangerous, and I will not put him down.”
“My brother is now saying that the entire family has sided with a dog over his child, which is not the case. It’s just that there are lots of other solutions to this problem.”
I am perfectly happy to crate my dog when they come over, or leave him in another room, or just never have them over again and hang out somewhere else. There’s no reason for my niece to ever see my dog again, and I’d be happy to talk over a solution with him.”
“It’s just that he won’t talk to me at all, and I don’t know what to do.”
“Should I give him more time to cool off? Should I go over to his house and try to talk?”
“I don’t want to ruin this relationship, we are very close, but I’m just not putting my dog down over this.”
Redditors were united in their opinions, although they varied in their advice.
“Your brother is being an a**, and I’m sorry. I’d let him pout it out.”
“You going to him to talk it over is only giving him what he wants: attention.”
“It’s not his daughter’s fault or the dog’s fault: it’s his and his wife’s fault for not teaching their daughter how to play with your dog and when to leave your dog alone.”
“If they want to be this ridiculous and ruin your relationship with them over it, that’s on them.” ~ Radiant_University
“If this is Op’s brother’s idea of parenting, then this isn’t going to be the last situation where the niece is responsible for a bad occurrence but ‘of course it’s never her fault, she’s a little angel!’ Smh.
“I see a lot of parent teacher conferences in that little girl’s future.” ~ whisky_biscuit
People couldn’t believe the brother thought animal abuse was OK.
“I am shocked. Pulling the ears and hitting the dog, and your brother does nothing and wants you to put down the dog?!”
“Is he completely mental or just the same age as his daughter? No, really. He’s being childish.”
“Let him cool off. His behaviour suggests he has mediocre parenting skills, and he is aware of that but not able to admit it.”
“I’d let him cool off but also probably give him a bit of his own medicine – just inform him very calmly (don’t be mean) that until he improves his supervisory skills and learns how to teach his daughter to be kind to animals, she is not allowed anywhere near the dog.”
“He has to demonstrate that he is able to do it. Maybe if she annoys someone else’s dog he’ll learn.”
“Don’t even discuss putting it down. That’s totally unreasonable and a really cruel and stupid way of repairing his hurt ego.”
“Stand up for your dog, he did nothing wrong. He’s a living being, not a children’s toy.” ~ iampola
OP was clear she didn’t want to criticize her brother’s parenting, but no one else had that problem.
“OP said that the brother acts like OP is criticizing his parenting and OP doesn’t want it to seem that way but like, so what?”
“I’m a teacher and parents are always on about ‘are you criticizing my parenting?’”
“Like, yes. Your kid is a menace and you should do something about it. Your ego isn’t worth more than the damage this behavior does, and getting butthurt at getting called out for the effects of your shitty parenting does nothing.”
“Grow up and move forward.”
“OP’s brother is a sh*tty dad doing his child a disservice by not teaching her how to deal with animals. Maybe one day some animals might not be so nice, they aren’t stuffed animals.” ~ superthotty
“You may not be criticizing your brother’s parenting, but I am.”
“His stubbornness or ignorance puts his child in serious danger. He has taught his daughter it is OK to torment and abuse animals.”
“That behavior could get her maimed for life or killed if she does it with the wrong dog. Or it could get his family sued if she injures someone’s pet.”
“That’s the only conversation that needs to be had with any family that want to insert themselves.”
“You’re concerned for the safety, health and welfare of your niece which is jeopardized because of her behavior with animals who can be dangerous when antagonized or abused.”
“Why your brother and his wife don’t care about their kid is their question to answer.”
“Ball is in your brother’s court. Aside from killing your dog because your brother is irresponsible, there’s nothing you can do at this point.”
“He can either extract his head from his backside or not. You can’t make him not act like an a$$.”~ LakotaGrl
The OP hasn’t provided an update, so it’s unclear what she plans to do. But it’s clear there’s no chance she’ll kill her dog to satisfy her brother’s demands.