Staffie Cross Attacks Children

Staffie Cross Attacks Children

The Perfect Storm
Why dogs are aggressive to children and adults

Staffie cross That Attacked 11 Children
Staffie cross That Attacked 11 Children

Aggression: This attack on 11 children in a playground in Blyth in May 2016 could only be described as The Perfect Storm.

On the left, you are looking at a one-year-old dog that is going to die because it knew no better. It will die because the breeder and owner let it down.

So at which end of the lead does the real problem lie?

Why these attacks happen and how we stop them happening is linked to a number of important and vital factors in the first 16 weeks of a dog’s life.

This dog that attacked these children was a cross-breed Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Not a pure Staffordshire Bull Terrier as reported in the press and media. Once again the poor old Staffie gets the blame.

As an expert witness and banned breed assessor under the dangerous dogs’ act of 1991. I am called upon to define the breed or cross-breed of the dog I am assessing.

Therefore, I have some experience in categorising breeds or crossbreeds of dogs. To the trained eye, (though I cannot see the whole dog), this dog looks very much like a Pit Bull x Staffie.

This dog was apparently bought at the tender age of 4.5 weeks. There’s in lies the first one of the first big mistakes.

At that age that the puppy is still learning discipline and control from its mother. Without that discipline, we often end up with a difficult and unruly dog that is extremely difficult to control.  

It is an offence in the UK  for breeders or anyone else to sell puppies under the age of 8 weeks. Having said that recent research now points to 7 weeks being possibly the best time to re-home a puppy. I think that requires looking by government legislators. Probably DEFRA?

However, selling and buying a puppy at 4.5 weeks is ludicrous. The person that sold this dog and the person that bought it, clearly have no knowledge or understanding whatsoever of puppies or dogs. We have to take a test to drive a car? Why shouldn’t first-time breeders and owners be required to take at least a short course on the requirements of how dogs learn and how to work and train a dog.  You would only have to take it once.

Early Socialisation: This dog had bitten before, even though it was only about 12 months old. Because it specifically attacked children, points to the second big mistake. The fact that it had almost certainly not been socialised with children and possibly adults between one of the major critical periods in a puppy’s life which is between 0 and 12 weeks. This is known as the Human Socialisation Period.

Young puppies must be introduced to, and handled by at least a 100 people, including children and adults before the pup reaches 12 weeks of age. This sounds onerous, but the reality is really not that difficult. 

All you have to do is take it to your local pub, cafe, shopping centre or school gates where there are plenty of people about. Take treats with you that you can be handed out to people to treat the puppy whilst gently stroking and petting it. In fact, my daughter has recently opened a doggy-themed cafe in Hampton Hill called Paws for Coffee which is ideal to take young puppies and of course older dogs. They even have a doggy menu.

If puppies do not get this vital socialisation during this short period they can become fearful, reactive, and sometimes aggressively stimulated to attack. It is the main reason for aggression to children and adults. These dogs as they mature can start to show signs of fear, reactivity and aggression to people. BTW neutering makes it worse.

The vast majority of aggressive canines that end up attacking people and dogs are created between this 0 to16 window of social opportunity.

Puppies socialising in their critical period
Puppies socialising in their critical period

Canine Socialisation: We all know that socialisation at an early age is crucial for dogs well being. 

But are we all aware of the time limits of what we need to put in place for the new puppy, and more importantly why? 

The canine socialisation period is between 0 to16 weeks. Puppies must mix with other dogs, but more importantly pups of a similar age.

If they do not get this input they can lead a life of aggression and fear that is extremely difficult to cure.

It is no good just socialising your puppy with just adult dogs. Adult dogs do not do boisterous play fighting that pups always seem to do. It is through this play that they learn bite inhibition, body language, communication, socialisation and the acceptance of other dog and people outside of its own family or pack.

Children Can Act Irrationally:  Because children often act erratically, Running around screaming and jumping about which can stimulate either fear or predatory chase aggression in dogs that have not been socialised. This attack on the 11 children was an accident just waiting to happen.

It is because people do not research the requirements to socialise their puppies that lead to these unfortunate and dangerous incidents. Will live in a society where the mantra is “I want it and I want it now”.

Lack of control, training and socialisation causes major problems as the puppy matures. No training in the world can put in what was not put in through careful and gentle handling in the first place.

Humans Require Social Involvement: If we isolated a child from all human contact for the first five and a half years of its life then that child would be unable to ever communicate or feel comfortable around people. If speech and the understanding of language are not activated when the opportunity arises, then that opportunity if not stimulated will close down and cannot be reopened. Therefore, communication cannot be learned afterwards.

What we put into our children from the day they are born to 5.5 years old creates the personality and person that the child will grow into. Everything after this time in just adding knowledge and experience to that personality. 

Why do we imagine it is any different for our closest animal companions. For dogs, that is the first 16 weeks. ignore those simple requirements at your peril. There are other critical periods during this time. These are shown below along with other important information.

So this poor dog had the perfect storm. A useless breeder that was probably breeding trophy dogs, the owner that bought it far too young not understanding the consequences. Then failed to socialise it with people and especially children during that critical 12 week period. Who almost certainly never took it to the all-important puppy classes and never socialised it properly with other dogs. It was probably never trained or walked regularly and started aggressing at about 7 months. From then on in it was an accident waiting to happen. There were 12 victims in this tragedy. The 11 children and this one dog, let down by ignorant breeders and mindless owners who think it is their god-given right to own a dog without understanding that they had to invest time and effort to get a well-behaved dog.

Critical Periods part 1

Critical Periods part 2

Puppy Socialisation

The History of The Staffordshire Bull Terrier

My Thanks to The Daily Mail Article

image courtesy of the Mail and  ncjMedia Ltd

Comments (8)

  • dfc77_249455

    Such a shame that this has happened and hence the reason staffies have a bad name I myself have a 6 year old female staffie and she is so timid and friendly I have had her since she was 11 months she was abused by her previous owner and I really can’t understand why as she is really placid I spend all my time with her and love her to bits and I am a sensible dog owner I just can’t get my head around the fact that people let this happen with their dogs it beggars belief that poor dog has been put to sleep because of some irresponsible person it’s just a shame such a gorgeous dog!!!

    April 24, 2017 at 2:23 am
    • Doglistener

      Staffies and Bad name

      I did write an article about the Staffie and why the bad name they have got is totally wrong it is really worth a read as it will open the eyes of people that do not understand just how good these dogs are,  The History of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier 

      May 11, 2017 at 7:57 pm
  • garylongmuir_251501

    staffie cross
    I also have a staffie and she is crossed with a collie.
    I got her from a country cottage and her life revolved around the house and the garden. She had never been out of the garden in her 11 months of life.
    When we first got her home she was very friendly to all my family but very submissive and peed whenever someone stroked her. She was very nervous of strangers and other dogs on her walks and tried to nip a few times through fear not aggression.
    We worked through this and she now has long walks 3 times a day on playing fields and on busy streets.
    3 months on and she now has an excellent recall and loves everyone and their dogs.
    It just shows that if you are prepared to put in the hours and give your dog a routine to follow you can have a faithful, loving and happy friend.

    September 15, 2017 at 2:06 pm
    • mhawkesford7_254390

      Staffie dogs
      I have read many articles on the Staffie Cross. I have never own one, and had no prejudice toward the Staffie breed. Unfortunately that has changed since I was taking my small terrier on her daily walk. A Staffie Cross ran into my driveway and for no apparent reason grabbed my dog by her neck and wouldn’t let go. The son of the owner came and had to try and open its jaws to free my dog (she was on her lead) neighbours came to help but the dog hung on. The owner couldn’t understand why their dog showed aggression as she is to quote “so good with people”. Sorry all who love the Staffie I have now changed my view of this breed. I have read expert reasons on why some of these dogs turn, but Ibelieve the reason for originally breeding the Staffie sometimes come out in them. Ps the family of the dog are lovely people and their dog is has been treated very well.

      March 8, 2018 at 1:40 am
      • Doglistener

        Staffie Dogs

        The article explains that the Purebred Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a very good dog but the Staffie Cross is not anywhere near as stable as the Purebred. The family may be nice people but they must have known this dog was aggressive to dogs and that is related to lack of socialisation which is required from between the age of 3 to 16 weeks of age and they must allow the young pup to play with other puppies as that is how they learn body language and communication skills.

        July 17, 2018 at 11:07 am
    • Doglistener

      Staffie Cross Collie

      Well done Gary for persevering with this dog. It is sometimes very difficult to pick up the pieces of people that do no research and buy a dog and then do not socialise it during those vital critical periods of the dogs first 16 weeks.  Read this article. Critical Periods in a Puppies Life 

      July 17, 2018 at 10:27 am
  • actiondefence_258240

    We had a staffy before and he
    We had a staffy before and he was attacked by other dogs when he was a pup. Both times he was on a lead and the or dog wasn’t. (One of my biggest pet hates. Some people are safe to drive at 100mph but not everyone so for everyone’s safety, no one is).
    As a result my dog became dog aggressive. He came to me when he was 8 years old and no work has been done to help him be more relaxed . I managed to help him to some degree but the were still incidents (him on a lead and other dogs of lead approaching. The owner would say “it’s alright, he only wants to say hello”, I’d tell them to put their dog on a lead and Jake would think “Oh hello, my dinner is being delivered”….
    During his 17 years Jake was approached by many other dogs which ended in trouble (including me arguing with other dog owners who don’t leash their dog). They included but we not limited to labradors, shepherds, Dalmatian, spaniels but NEVER another staffy.
    So in my experience staffies have been the least likely to attack.
    Any dog can attack and even the best dog trainer/behaviourist must admit that ultimately it is all guess work based on experience because the human brain and canine brain are different. If we can’t always figure out what other people are thinking and feeling, we can’t possibly be certain about dogs minds and emotions.

    And yes, we now have another staffy, 13 week old pup.

    November 18, 2018 at 9:34 am
  • Doglistener

    Sorry I do not agree with your analogy

    Interdog aggression can be caused by early attacks, but that is often a smokescreen for lack of early socialisation with other puppies in particular and adult dogs. The majority of inter-dog aggression is fear based up to 90%. You have got until 16 2weks of age to really mix your dogs with other dogs and once again I will stress puppies in particular.  Critical Periods in a Puppies Life 

    November 28, 2018 at 7:48 pm

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