Wedding Woes

My IL's menace dogs ruin the holidays

mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its First Comment
edited December 2014 in Wedding Woes

Dear Prudence,
My husband and I have a happy marriage of more than a decade, two kids, two cats, and a lovely home. We have a large extended family we enjoy bringing together for holidays and celebrations. The problem is my father-in-law and his wife. They are wealthy people with several homes and we rarely see them except for the holidays. When they come to our house they bring their German shepherd dogs, which they leave in their car with the windows slightly open. Over Thanksgiving anyone walking by the car, including our guests, was greeted by the dogs barking aggressively and shaking the car. On the rare occasion that we have been invited to one of their homes, the dogs have gotten aggressive with the children. My niece was bitten on her thigh, and my then 5-year-old son was barked into a creek by one of the dogs, and I had to rescue him. No one seemed to care. We’ve invited the in-laws to our home for Christmas to avoid any confrontation with the dogs. But now they bring the dogs with them! My husband hands me a cocktail and tells me to ignore them. We have argued about it, and my husband says I don’t want him to have a relationship with his father. Of course I do or I wouldn’t put up with their nonsense for all these years! I can’t drink away their visits. I want to insist that they don’t bring the dogs. Any suggestions?

—Dog Gone

Re: My IL's menace dogs ruin the holidays

  • BIL's dog is an asshole.  He doesn't hurt the kids or anything.  He's a food asshole (he will climb on counters to get to food and if you try to discipline him when he's foraging, he snaps) and an escapist (beagle/cocker spaniel mix).   I think he could be better behaved, but SIL babies the shit out of the dog. 

    BIL has stopped bringing his dogs home for the most part, opting to send them to the kennel at their vet's office. Everyone is so much happier when his dogs aren't here. 
  • Our dogs are excitable. They will not hurt people- they just want attention. But this means they will jump on people and we realize that it is not acceptable. So when we have people over, they are in our bedroom. It's also cruel to keep dogs in the car. I don't care if the window is cracked, it can still get hot or cold. It sounds like these people probably do not exercise and socialize their dogs enough and they have behavior issues. Also, if the niece got bit then why isn't the other sibling putting their foot down and saying "NO". Because if a dog bit my child, that dog would never be near my kid again.
  • I love dogs, but I hate people who do not train their dogs and let them do what they want. Especially with breeds that are commonly perceived as aggressive. Individual dogs may not be but if the breed is known for it like German Shepherds. My mom was bit by one as a kid and is skiddish around them. When her neighbors across the street got a couple of them she was nervous. But they are the sweetest dogs on the block (for a block with like 2 dogs per household) because they were trained properly.
  • VarunaTT said:
    I'm a dog person and I'd say "Hell no."  I would've made them bring the dogs in the first time, but aggression issues on a big dog is not something to mess with as the non-owners.  The people and their dogs wouldn't have been allowed back.  If the people were going to try and leave the dogs in the cars, I wouldn't invite them.

    I allow friends to bring their dogs over to our house, but we have to be able to do a walk around the block first with new dog, Zelda, and Bennett and have to do a proper introduction.  Zelda is an alpha dog and it's her territory.  I do this so that accidents are less likely to happen and Zelda knows that her alpha (us, her owners) want this dog there.  There is no way in hell I'd allow a dog that showed any signs of aggression in my house, even if I didn't have a 65 pound alpha female already.  Dogs work in and DH are the leaders of our pack. I cannot stand it when people don't work with their dogs.  They're animals, not toys.  New studies being done show that dogs love us more than they love other dogs, but they're still animals and they'll still respond like dogs, not mini-humans.  I'm judging all over the damn place; this is a serious issue and I have lots of thoughts about it.

    These are assholes owning dogs.  The worst part is they're owning a high energy, territorial, and big dog.

    This is such a great idea! We have a 60 pound alpha female. She does not allow most other dogs into our house.

    My inlaws have 5 untrained dogs. Luckily all of them are under 30 pounds, but the chihuaha drives me crazy! He bites people if they take "his" food, move him off the couch, or generally get near him. MIL doesn't see a problem with this.

    It is very hard to bite my tongue at their house. When I treat the dogs like animals instead of humans, the inlaws get upset. I asked them to please not give our dogs special treats or human food like they do with the other dogs. They see this as punishing our dogs.


  • BIL's dog is an asshole.  He doesn't hurt the kids or anything.  He's a food asshole (he will climb on counters to get to food and if you try to discipline him when he's foraging, he snaps) and an escapist (beagle/cocker spaniel mix).  
    I wasn't there, but I heard my dad's dog ate all the yams on Thanksgiving.  I would have gone for the turkey, but I guess the yams were all he could reach.
  • @penguin44, there's a whole methodology to it.  I can't find the one that I used specifically, but this is a good overview:

    It's actually interesting to watch in action, b/c Zelda, to us, is a very sweet, gentle dog who is perfectly behaved on the leash.  But when we start hanging back to let the "new" dog to take lead, I have to put her into "heel" position, b/c she becomes agitated and starts barking and pulling.  It's obvious she doesn't like it.  She settles down pretty quickly once she gets to sniff and once she realizes that we're relaxed and that nothing is changing b/c of her insistence.
  • That makes a lot of sense
    (not in our house, Dawg is leash-aggressive/protective.  She's fine if she's loose, she'll submit and play and be fine.  But if she's leashed, she walks fine for us, but gets growly toward other dogs.)

    Mine is sometimes a food asshole.  Not counter-surfing, but "hey, Buffy, look at that *steal her doughnut*" way.
    On the plus side, she's terrified of hard floors, so if you walk to the middle of the kitchen, you can get away from her ;-P

  • I have so much issue with this post! Like one PP said there are stigmas associated with different breeds and when someone does not control their dog of that particular breed it really does not help. Also, one of the dogs BIT one of the kids? I would be freaking out! I love dogs but this is not okay. That is a huge lawsuit waiting to happen if that dog bites someone not in the family AND that dog is a possible danger to others. I feel so sorry for OP that her husband will not recognize her concerns. I would be very upset.

    I have a pitbull and she is the cutest thing. I try my best to make sure she is on her best behavior because I recognize that there is a stigma associated with her breed. These people need to do the same. Also, who brings dogs to someone else's house and leaves them in the car? That does not sound right at all.
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers
  • @gbck, we've debated putting the yellow ribbon on Zelda's leash b/c of similar behavior.  As long as she's in "sit" position, she's totally fine with meeting other leashed dogs at a park or another area where we're not working to bring the dog into the house.  There is one huge "but" though and that's if she thinks the dog she's meeting is attacking us.  We've had issues with someone else's dog jumping on us, not out of aggression but just ill controlled behavioral greeting, and Zelda doesn't like it.  We can still control her and she listens, but there's a lot of barking and territorial behavior displayed.  Sometimes, it's just not worth it.

    I love Zelda dearly, but I've never had a really territorial dog breed before (she's a red heeler/lab mix) and it's been a real learning experience on how I influence her behavior and what I need to do for her to signal the correct behavior.  I really think it's the heeler, since they're trained as herders, so she wants us together in her pack and she wants non-packs things out and she's an alpha.  But, she's terribly sweet to those that she considers her pack, ridiculously gentle with children, and she smiles so hard, she can make her lips curl and her eyes squint.
  • We never took our dogs to someone's house unless specifically invited to do so (ILs, my parents, and ySIL - she dogsat while we were on our honeymoon). ILs were the only ones with a dog, and she knew our dogs (Wiggles more than Rogue).  I can't imagine taking aggressive dogs to other people's homes. I also can't imagine taking your dogs somewhere and leaving them alone in the car for an extended period of time. 

    I wouldn't want others to bring their dogs to our house because Wiggles can be dog aggressive. (With strange dogs.) He can also be people aggressive if he feels threatened (he's snapped at a few strangers when they tried to pet him.) (Common sense, people - if a dog is growling at you, and the owner is saying, "don't try and pet him" it's probably not a good idea to stick your hand in his face.) He's generally very sweet (sometimes excitable) - but I'll keep him locked up if we have guests unless they know him and are fine with him being loose. 
  • People don't speak 'pet' well.
    I don't get it.

    Hell, I can't get people to stop trying to pet my cat. (the younger, healthier, evil-er one)

    I mean, I greet people at the door with "please don't touch the cat".  He comes out and is all hisses and puffy (I try to have him locked up but he's tricky and good at escaping--and obviously the mail carrier doesn't know that there is a ball of angry gray claws waiting just inside the door (well, at least he didn't the first time--he does now)).
    Cat comes out later, and acts all friendly and will roll over so you can give him tummy rubs, and no matter HOW MANY TIMES I tell people not to touch him, they feel the overwhelming NEED to pet the kitty tummy...and then he attacks them.

    I swear, he was an anglerfish in another life "look at the fuzzy tummy.  is'nt it pretty, look pet it.  let your guard, fuzzy kitty tummy....*CLAW CLAW CLAW BITE BITE BITE* *Saunter away, unperturbed as guest starts bleeding profusely*"
  • My new dog must be weird, she actually behaves better when we're not at home. She was a perfect little lady at Thanksgiving, aside from thinking all the laps on the couch are perches for her 63 pound butt. At home we're still working with her on containing her excitement when new people come over or when coming inside. She used to just bowl over the other dogs and people. Now she tries so hard to restrain herself, you can see the effort she's making, almost as if she's saying "gotta be good, gotta be good, gotta- CAAAAAAN'T!!!!!!!" She's trying, and she's so much better, but we still work on improving. Luckily she's a sweetheart, but she's big and enthusiastic, so teaching proper ways to vent that energy is so important to us and the safety of our future children. Plus she's part Pitbull, so having her trained is important because of the breed stigma. She's seriously the sweetest creature in the world, just clueless. These people are a-holes. And so is the husband. I can understand if the child maybe provoked the dog by being rough, being forgiving then, but it sounds like the dogs are plain out of control. I can't imagine willingly putting my children in danger just to soothe daddy and mommy's feelings. 
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