My in-laws had bought a puppy, of the breed Staffordshire Bull Terrier, to replace an elderly Staffordshire that died some 6 months before. They never had a puppy before and had little dog training experience. The dog, now about 6 months old, has some problematic behaviours which are largely because the my in-laws whole household (3 adults and a child) haven't dealt with the behaviour in the right way from a young age. I think they liked the idea of having a puppy, but didn't do the research before they got her and failed to apply consistent training.

I'm no dog training guru myself but I have adopted a problem dog from the dog's home in the past which had behavioural issues which I had to overcome and I have assisted in training dogs when I was a child.

My in-laws have reached the point that they are seriously considering giving up the dog for to its behaviour.

The dog's issues I believe are centered around play aggression that they have inadvertently encouraged by rewarding the behaviour with attention. This had led to some situations with my own children and the 11 year old becoming scared of the dog, she bites and jumps at their faces. Unfortunately this behaviour is then re-enforced through her getting attention, or being lured away with dog treats. It hasn't yet turned into any dominance type aggression, it is mostly just over exuberant play at this stage.

I feel like the issues are easily solved so long as disciplined and consistent dog training practices are employed, they are going on holiday for two weeks soon and I'm considering looking after the dog for that time to try and make some improvement with training while they are away, but I have some worries as follows.

  1. I have a dog, mentioned above, he is now a docile 8 year old, Collie Beagle cross. The staffy puppy would be coming into our house for two weeks and while the two dogs have met on a few occasions, it could cause tension between the two dogs if they are living in the same house.

  2. A lot of the puppies play aggression comes out when my young (2 and 5 year) kids are around, so bringing her into our house would place her into that trigger environment every day.

  3. I'm used to dog training and being the assertive alpha male, if I was able to make an improvement after two weeks, I'm worried that her then going back to her home may just confuse her, make her behaviour worse and she may just instantly revert to her old ways once under the charge of the in-laws again.

In short, I have one question. Is adopting her for two weeks and trying to 'fix' her behaviour in that period a terrible idea and could it result in more behavioural issues? Or is it worth while to prevent them giving up the dog permanently?

  • Many adoption agencies place dogs with foster care during the week.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 13, 2018 at 22:50
  • 2
    Remember that you don't train dogs, you train their humans and since they're the ones going on holidays, I doubt it will change anything significant. Secondly don't bring a "strange" problem dog near your children. Their high energy and sometimes unpredictable behavior towards the dog who doesn't know them, can end very badly, especially with a stafford. Jun 25, 2018 at 15:10
  • Thanks for the comments guys. I tried it for one day, it did not go well. Primarily because she wasn't as socialised with other dogs as I had thought. So once she was in the house with my dog, she couldn't focus because she was just trying to get to my dog all the time, even if he was in another room, and so I couldn't work with her. I agree with what @MarcellodiSimone said, my hope was this would demonstrate to them how they need to handle the dog, so that they can continue it rather than just give her up. I'll just put it down as a failed experiment.
    – 3urdoch
    Jun 28, 2018 at 9:55
  • Sad to hear it didn’t work out. If you still want to give it a try, I would recommend you to go for a extended walk together with your dogs first. So he knows your dog and he’ll feel more as a part of your pack. This will reduce his interest in your dog and lessen its overall excitement which helps him to be more focused. Jun 28, 2018 at 10:35

2 Answers 2


Yes, bringing this dog into your home is a terrible idea, though possibly not for the reasons you suggest.

Bringing a dog into your home that has a history of biting children's faces is not okay, no matter what the dog's motivation for biting. Your first responsibility is to protect your children from harm. Allowing a dog to play so rough as to bite a child's face is to risk a lethal injury to your child. You didn't ask, but I'm telling you, do not allow your children to visit their grandparents so long as that dog lives there. I doubt they will ever gain control of that dog if they have allowed things to come to this pass.

If they return the dog to the shelter, at least it stands a chance of being retrained. If you do bring it into your home, separate it from your children and dogs with a solid wall and door--not just a pet gate that the animals can see through. You will need to walk, feed, and train it separately from your own dogs.

I have no experience with a multi-dog household so I cannot advise how to arrange for joint playtime or training. Nor do I know if this is advisable under the circumstances. My experience is controlling my aggressive dog while walking on the same street as elementary school children. The dog and children must be kept apart for everyone's safety.


I think it's worth trying, dogs are intelligent sensitive creatures and they would suffer more emotional damage being taken from an owner then whatever is causing the bad behavior.

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