Dog aggression and baby

(89 Posts)
WorriedMummy2013 Mon 01-Jul-13 14:03:45

I'm worried sick. I posted in parenting before I noticed this bit of the forum. Can anyone offer any suggestions on what I should do? Here's my original thread:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/parenting/1792652-Dog-aggression-what-do-I-do

HoneyDragon Mon 01-Jul-13 14:09:24

Ops op

We have an 8 year old terrier and a 12 week old baby. They are never left alone together and I thought everything was working out fine. The dog seemed to be a bit scared of the baby and kept away most of the time. The closest he got was occasionally coming over and sniffing the baby's feet while I was holding him, then retreating to the safety of the other end of the sofa.

My mum was over the other day and made a terrible mistake. She sat down with the baby and put him over her shoulder to wind him failing to notice that the dog was asleep on the back of the sofa behind her. She basically stuck the baby's head in the dog's face. The dog freaked out and did that loud, terrifying, air-snapping that dogs do in warning before they attack. I think my heart may have actually stopped beating for the seconds it took to establish that the baby was fine.

Since then the dog has been much more bothered by the baby and is curling his lips and showing his teeth even if the baby is being held at the opposite end of the sofa. Today he started snarling at the baby when someone else came into the room with food.

What do I do? How do I address this behaviour other than ensuring he never gets near the baby again?

HoneyDragon Mon 01-Jul-13 14:12:23

Hope you don't mind but I've c&p'd your op as you'll get good advice in here.

First of all, focus on the positive. The dog was asleep and then frightened. He snapped. He didn't bite. Nor did you punish him for snapping, so he is still more than capable of warning his distress.

People will have much better advice than me, but you can manage this situation and have a safe baby and content dog. smile

LEMisdisappointed Mon 01-Jul-13 14:20:43

Oh, how scary for you OP.

You have time on your hands because the baby is tiny and not yet mobile so you can police the dog being close to baby.

At the moment the dogs experience of the baby has been negative, he is probably jealous and then the baby made him jump. How did people react when this happened? Was the dog punished? Was there lots of shouting? I think you should try and establish lots of positive associations with the dog and baby, so if you can fuss the dog while the baby is on your lap, let him sniff baby and try not to push him away. I know its hard, I had this with our rotweiller when i brought DD home from the hospital. We used to let him sniff at her and say "nicely" and try not to push him away. In the end he pretty much ignored her. He died before she was mobile though.

Someone else will be along with more experience soon. But yes, do get a dog behaviourist if you can afford it. Make sure it is a bonefide behaviourist though as there are a lot of cowboys out there.

How old is your dog?

MedicalWriter Mon 01-Jul-13 15:21:52

Ok I know I'm going to get flamed for this BUT.....if it was me I'm afraid I would rehome the dog. I would just not take a chance with a baby's life. A baby was recently killed by a JR. All it took was one bite (the dog had not previously been aggressive). I know some on here will say get a behaviourist, do training etc etc, but could you really live with yourself if your dog bit your baby (or worse).

Millions of parents manage to safely combine dog ownership and parenthood.

The good news is that even though the dog was startled, it gave a warning rather than biting - a couple of suggestions. Make sure dog has a designated place for sleeping/resting and ALL family members (including visiting GPs) know not to disturb dog while he is in this area.

Secondly, gradually accustom dog to associating postive things with baby. The Dogs Trust have published some excellent and very sensible advice on adjusting to a new baby with a dog - see here for link. I'd also endorse one of the points raised which is to make sure as a JR he is getting plenty of exercise and stimulation e.g. clicker training. Terriers thrive on being busy and occupied.

LEMisdisappointed Mon 01-Jul-13 15:45:04

By the logic you employ there medical writer - nobody should have a dog with a small baby.

<hijacks> How did you become a medical writer by the way? genuine question. Do you work from home? Can you work from home and do this?

as you were smile

MedicalWriter Mon 01-Jul-13 15:47:13

I have a PhD and yes I work from home. Your point?

I could barely function when I had a newborn. Expecting a mother to train a potentially dangerous dog at the same time is asking a lot. As I said I expected to get flamed. Some people on here will always put the dog first over the human.

LEMisdisappointed Mon 01-Jul-13 15:48:41

Oh, don't worry about it - i was genuinely interested as its something i have considered doing myself hmm

MedicalWriter Mon 01-Jul-13 15:50:57

Oops sorry. I thought you were having a go. Apologies. Degree in Life Science and some writing experience is generally what is need. Got some experience at a pharmaceutical company before going freelance.

Sorry again blush

LEMisdisappointed Mon 01-Jul-13 15:52:38

It oks

LEMisdisappointed Mon 01-Jul-13 15:59:52

Have PM'd you MW smile

I do think you can manage dog and baby - I managed a rotweiller with previous aggression issues and a baby up to 18m. So it is doable. I do have to say though that I was actually in the process of trying to get him rehomed when he died as i didn't comfortable when DD got mobile (she was a late walker) and he did give us reasons for concern. Had there not been previous issues with thiss dog then I would not have been considering rehoming. He was absolutely fine with DD as a baby, showed minmal interest. Baby was a huge surprise later in life so he was the baby of the family!

frissonpink Mon 01-Jul-13 16:05:00

Ok I know I'm going to get flamed for this BUT.....if it was me I'm afraid I would rehome the dog. I would just not take a chance with a baby's life. A baby was recently killed by a JR. All it took was one bite (the dog had not previously been aggressive). I know some on here will say get a behaviourist, do training etc etc, but could you really live with yourself if your dog bit your baby (or worse).

I agree 100% and find it sad that you feel you would get flamed for this.

I love dogs to bits, ours died 2 years ago before dd arrived. Beautiful golden retriever. Dozy as hell and wouldn't harm a fly.

But I tell you what, since having a baby, I now realise I would never put a dog and a baby in the same house. Why? Because dogs are your babies too, and used to being your no1 priority, but are ultimately wild, unpredictable animals. All it takes is the one time.

Really? Could you forgive yourself? As a mum, your priority is to the baby, not the dog. What the dog did does not sound good at all.

idirdog Mon 01-Jul-13 16:06:19

*MedicalWriter seems to have only one way of bringing up dogs. This is the second thread today she advised to get rid of the dog.

OP this does need some careful managing HOWEVER your dog is not aggressive. If it was you would not have got a lip curl and a growl. Your dog is acutally very polite and very clearly telling you that the baby close to him is too much.

Give your dog a crate or get a stair gate and let the dog have a place to relax well away from the baby. If you are concerned contact the APDC , or APDT member for 1-1 advice. They will all be qualified and be able to offer safe and reliable advice. It is very important that you get qualified professional advice as you will be offered a lot by people that know nothing smile

This website may help you dogs and Babies and how to get along

You will get a lot of non dog educated people panicking saying your dog has turned into a child eating monster - take a deep breath, keep them separated and get advice from the professionals

frissonpink Mon 01-Jul-13 16:12:29

The dog freaked out and did that loud, terrifying, air-snapping that dogs do in warning before they attack.

That's not aggressive?! Really? Pretty sure my dozy retriever wouldn't have done anything (except try to lick the baby!) You're right though about the dog not liking the baby too close, and right about keeping them separate.

I personally would just wonder if the OP has the time with a new baby to invest in training an older dog.

HoneyDragon Mon 01-Jul-13 16:12:38

I believe the op asked for help in how to address her dogs behaviour.

Just sayin'

idirdog Mon 01-Jul-13 16:16:45

Air snapping is a warning, why did the dog not bite? because it is not aggressive. However if pushed and if the situation does not change the dog may be pushed over threshold.

A dog cannot politely say "excuse me but you jigging that baby in my face is scaring me"

Actually I expect he has been trying to communicate this but the owners have not picked up on the body language so his only choice is to air snap and growl. It worked the owner is now taking notice. A sensible owner will take professional advice as already linked to above.

OP I think your dog was actually v well behaved! Consistent positive reinforcement with the guidance of a good trainer could def help you resolve this situation.

I have 2 jack Russell's and certainly will not be removing them from my house when my baby comes. Yes they mean more work than if I didn't have a dog but that comes with animal ownership - accept that or don't get one in the first place. Good luck OP

MedicalWriter Mon 01-Jul-13 16:51:56

idirdog : *MedicalWriter seems to have only one way of bringing up dogs. This is the second thread today she advised to get rid of the dog.

Bit of a silly comment. Having a dog PTS if they are a danger to a baby is a responsible thing to do. Having a dog rehomed if they are causing you extreme stress and unhappiness is a sensible thing to do.

CHUMMUM Mon 01-Jul-13 17:07:17

Our Boxer dog was 3 when I came home from hospital with our dd1. We let him smell a blanket that had been wrapped around me and dd to get him used to her smell, then let him smell dd feet when I was carrying her in my arms and stroking him too. He quickly got very protective over her although after a while he left the room when she cried!
We did the same with our ds 3 years later, he was brilliant with the kids and wasn't happy if we told them off! He passed away a few years ago sad

Chummum - boxers are amazing family dogs smile

I know nearly exactly what my two will do with a baby in the house. Be v excited, have a sniff, wonder what on earth all the racket is and take themselves off to bed!

EspressoMonkey Mon 01-Jul-13 17:17:39

OP if it helps, we had some problems with our dog too. When DD1 was a toddler she was forever grabbing is fur and he didn't like it at all. He would growl and moan. He never did try to bite but i was very uncomfortable with the situation. It is impossible to separate them entirely, certainly in our circumstances it seemed impossible because our dog was always a very close dog. DD1 is 3 now and they get along very well. He performs tricks for her for treats, they play with balls in the garden etc. He enjoys her company now, whereas 18 months ago he was terrified of her.

I just wanted to say, work at their relationship and it will get better. And goodluck!

Ilovehistory Mon 01-Jul-13 17:36:59

I'm with MedicalWriter on this one. I think some common sense is needed here. It only takes a split second for a tragedy. Don't let sentimentality get in the way of doing the right thing. At the end of the day a dog is just that...a dog and we should put the safety of children first.

Booboostoo Mon 01-Jul-13 17:42:08

Please get a qualified behaviourist to see the dog in your own home, assess him and advise you whether training might help or whether you should consider rehoming. This is not an issue that can be resolved over the internet. You need a trained professional to correctly read the dog's reaction and help you.

D0oinMeCleanin Mon 01-Jul-13 17:45:09

OP I posted on your thread, but will post again here, for support. I agree totally with Scuttle and idridog.

My terrier was not fond of children when he first came to us, with some patience and time and lots of treats and supervision he accepts them, he'll never love them, but he can tolerate them being close to him without growling or snarling and he very occasionally looks for attention from the younger child. He has learned over time that she is a source of games and treats and not a threat to his well being.

Training a dog to fit into family life is generally done along with day to day tasks and does not take huge chunks of your time, so please ignore the posters who are telling you that you won't have time, they're talking out of their arses.

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