Would you rehome a dog snapping at your toddler?(not a knee jerk reaction to events in media...trying to resolve this for months)

(83 Posts)
Louisiasb Sat 09-Nov-13 23:16:33

Hi, I have 7 year old cockatoo and 18 month old dd. dog growls at dd if she walks past crate or sleeping. I have taught dd that she is not allowed to approach dogs when sleeping or in crate.however she has ignored this when I am busy and dog has snapped at her 3 times.

Dog is only allowed to sleep in crate and I know warning signs.however I am nervous that I can't trust dog as dd was very traumatised after incidents. Growling has also progressed to snapping.

I am not sure what to do. House is too small to keep separate unless dog crated all day. Dd very boisterous and don't trust her to leave alone. Have spoken to behaviourists but as house is too small there isn't much i can do.

DeathByLaundry Sun 10-Nov-13 20:14:51

In my fairly broad experience of qualified behaviourists it's unusual for owners to consult more than one, because good ones usually provide pretty much unlimited follow up support. Unless the owner is seeking a quick fix or hasn't properly the advice given, in which case they will often seek second or third opinions in their quest for an effort-free solution.

I've lived with children-fearful dogs in a small house - I still do. It's very much possible. But at 18 months of age your expectations of your child are totally unrealistic. I don't trust my three year old to remember the dog rules, it would have been completely insane to rely on her to follow them at half her age.

A room divider is what you need. And a plan from a behaviourist, which you follow to the letter with their support. A proper APBC counsellor, not some random person who calls themselves a dog whisperer or who has done a vague course on 'dog psychology'.

This is not about whether the problem is surmountable OP. It is about whether you are willing to devote the necessary time and effort. If the first 4 behaviourists were worth their salt and you followed their plans, you would have made progress by now or at least taken steps to better manage the situation.

LEMisafucker Sun 10-Nov-13 20:19:37

But surely if the OP has been able to secure a home, this would be better for the dog?

idirdog Sun 10-Nov-13 20:19:47

To make it clear I do not have an opinion on what the OP should do.

How can I - I have not seen the dog in RL.

What I feel very strongly about is that asking on a forum what someone should do is just ridiculous and no-one can give the correct advice as many people on here do not have the qualifications, experience or can see the situation in RL.

The OP should seek professional advice - although she says this has been done she does not seem to have a plan from a qualified behaviourist to use so I question who she has had advice from.

If the dog does need rehoming the behaviourist would be involved in this.

In my job I have daily phone calls from owners who can not be bothered to help their dogs deal with the situation when a toddler or baby is around - most of these can be sorted out easily but people can just not be arsed.

I do not know if this is the case here but again will say contact a qualified behaviourist they will help with the situation what ever the outcome.

bellasuewow Sun 10-Nov-13 20:21:35

This must be really hard for you sounds like the only solution is the dog staying in the crate until the little one is less clumsy and more aware which could be years or moving to a larger property so the dog can have its own space. Appreciate that you have got expert opinions but seems pretty simple the dog is saying stay away I don't like it. I think you are right and responsible to re home if moving and crating are not an option. Just a thought but can the dog be crated upstairs away from unpredictable toddler. I really wish you the best of luck. Not all dogs suit all homes.

LEMisafucker Sun 10-Nov-13 20:23:38

That is good advice, i agree, I was using a behaviourist to help me with my boy, it was the same behaviourist we used when we got the dog, to help us rehome him i was actually buttering him up to have the dog himself before he passed away. I used him to help because he would have helped me find the right home for my dog as it wouldn't have been straightforward to rehome him (rotweiller with issues). As it was, fate took over and he passed away, am so thankfull that he had his final few years with us, I miss him terribly and his picture still on the wall.

LEMisafucker Sun 10-Nov-13 20:24:31

Has anyone any thoughts regarding crates actually contributing to guarding behaviour?

DeathByLaundry Sun 10-Nov-13 20:29:46

LEM dogs only guard when they feel the resource is threatened. Taking away this haven which is so important to the dog that it will guard it would actually heighten anxiety. I'd put the create behind a room divider so the dog had somewhere it feels truly safe.

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 10-Nov-13 20:42:15

Lem, I don't think Puppy did anything wrong. Her DP was the one who behaved negligently when it came to the dog. It was his dog and instead of dealing with his dog appropriately, it sounds like he made it a "put up with the dog or PTS" thing.sad

I am wondering if the OP is being put in a similar position by her DP.

LEMisafucker Sun 10-Nov-13 20:50:50

I hope not Dione sad

I get what you are saying about the resource thing, i think that certainly was the case with our dog - he came with food/toy possession issues (an a few more we wasn't told about!) which he got over with time, he never really got over kennel guarding and became the spawn of satan on the occasions i had to kennel him at work (vets) I remember one day he was there (i can't remember why he was in) and they called me to go fetch him because everytime someone went in the kennel room he was launching himself at the cage door and they were scared to let him out, as soon as I got there and opened the door he was back to his "hello everyone, who's gonna play then" self. He had clear issues as you describe though so i can see this - he was also like this in the car, we would put him in the car ready for walks and it became "his" and he would be terrifying, he actually had his head in my mouth like a circus lion once! The thing is though, we would see this with lots of the dogs that came into the vets with the kennel gaurding, i wonder if them being in an enclosed space made them feel more vulnerable? Also i had a chihuahua when i was a teenager and he was a bastard about his basket. I have never given any of my dogs (as an adult) its own bed, so nothing to guard - i have two JRTs now and they just sleep on the sofa or on the bed, but have no where that is "theirs" so no place to get possesive of, my DD is 8 though and respects the let sleeping dogs lie rule.

DeathByLaundry Sun 10-Nov-13 20:57:45

Kennel guarding when hospitalised is a very particular thing. Many dogs have a fear of vets but once they're kennelled they are left alone. The door being opened often signals handling or treatments they resent. So they will fiercely defend their haven. In the case of your dog it sounds like a more generalised resource guarding issue. I think wards are actually horribly stressful for dogs. We're looking at a new building just now and it's something I'm really keen to build into the design (not just because kennel guarders are a nightmare!).

LEMisafucker Sun 10-Nov-13 21:02:23

Our kennels were bloody awful to be fair DBL smile I think because my dog had been in battersea for a long period of time contributed to his behaviour but yes, i was always shock at how the loveliest of dogs would turn into Damien once they got into the kennel. I don't work at the vets anymore, however they are looking into a new building..........!

Mattissy Sun 10-Nov-13 22:36:48

I'd be devastated but yes I would.

boyshouse22 Mon 11-Nov-13 10:25:43

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

bellasuewow Mon 11-Nov-13 13:33:45

have thought about this post overnight and i am concerned about the amount of dogs in rescue due to a new baby or child. Please consider exhausting all options before getting rid becasue when you get a dog it is a 10-15 year committment come children or whatever. me and DH have really prioritised the dogs in our home as there is no way we will get rid of them and they would be very difficult to rehome plus we adore them. We have rearranged the house/lives costing a considerable amount of money to give them the space and time they need. I know many folk who have also gone to considerable lengths to keep or accomodate a dog. Perhaps you and DH can sit down and write a list of all the things you could really try like heated kennel for her to have some alone sleep time, upstairs room for dog, putting a wall up so you are not open plan, DH making sure dog is walked and has quality time to keep her happy, dog daycare, friend or family member day care, telling baby no i assume you tell her no to touching hot drinks etc really be strict. If you really want to keep this dog then there is a way and you can get through it. Also be totally honest if you feel you do not want to cope with a dog now that you have a child but in that case dont blame the dog or try and create a situation where you can say it is the dogs fault so you feel less guilty as you will label the dog as a baby killer when she is not and make it more difficult to rehome. Agree that is is strange to have consulted 4 experts perhaps they were not telling you what you wanted to hear. Sorry to sound harsh i dont know your situation at all i really wish you the best.

bobbybearmummy Mon 11-Nov-13 16:51:35

OMG the world has gone mad,dogs put down,dogs rehomed and for what a natural behaviour growling.We were brought up with numerous dogs,some working,some lap dogs.Yes I got snapped at as a toddler,but I learnt a healthy respect for the animal.It is very,very rare that a dog will take a situation any further as they wish to avoid confrontation,hence the growl.
Do you not think we now blow situations out of proportion due to all the media on dog attacks?
I feel sorry for these dogs,its often the owners that really need to see a behaviourist.
Some people are just not "dog" people and they do not know how to keep a dog properly.Lack of exercise,mental stimulation and a crap diet are a recipie for disastor.

idirdog Mon 11-Nov-13 17:00:55

bobbybearmummy grin

sonlypuppyfat Mon 11-Nov-13 17:12:55

When I was a girl most dogs were cross breeds now they are pedigrees and I think so inbred they are half mad.

Tillypo Mon 11-Nov-13 17:15:51

Can' t believe that people are trying to condone the fact they get their dogs put down for no reason when they could go to other homes with no little people. As for vets putting healthy dogs down is even worse surely vets have contact numbers for rescue centers to come and collect the dog and have them signed over from the owners.

Booboostoo Mon 11-Nov-13 17:23:03

OP did you say you have consulted 4 behaviourists? Did they visit you in your home to assess the dog? If not then you need a fifth one.

If yes, what did they advise? Did they all advise the same thing? If yes how long have you been implementing their training ideas? If not which ideas did you chose to implement and how long for?

No one should advise on a potentially aggressive dog on the internet but what you describe does not, in principle, sound insurmountable.

LEMisafucker Mon 11-Nov-13 17:35:38

Surely if the dog is unhappy enough to be growling at the child then the best thing FOR THE DOG, is to rehome him/her? Obviously not PTS, that is ridiculous but if this were my dog i would probaby re home.

The flaw in my argument is that new homes are not readily available.

I agree that inbreeding and irresponsible breeding has alot to answer for. Most of the breeders of these designer dogs tend to be backyard breeders - by the very definition of the fact that the dogs will not be registered there will be no garuntee that the pedigree can be followed and therefore no sure way of knowing that inbreeding hasn't taken place which is a major concern. Google "cocker rage" this is something that a good cocker spaniel breeder will be aware of especially with the fawn colour ones and will select against, im not sure how this is followed with designer dogs that are bred because they have a comical sounding name.

SleepyFish Mon 11-Nov-13 17:36:18

Tillypo A pet is considered an owners property in the eyes of the law so a vet cannot rehome without an owners permission. They can refuse to euthanize on ethical grounds but usually don't due to the possibility of what would happen to the animal if they did.

LEMisafucker Mon 11-Nov-13 17:38:04

Sleepyfish is exactly right, have had to PTS some lovely healthy dogs "on owners request" sad

Tillypo Mon 11-Nov-13 17:42:34

Surely you can say to the owners have you considered rehoming the dog instead of putting him/her to sleep. Here is a number of the center that can come to collect or you can drop it off.

LEMisafucker Mon 11-Nov-13 17:45:18

But tilly, it just isn't that simple, often the owners are adamant that they want PTS and sadly it isn't always a case of ringing the rescue centre and they will rush out to collect the dog, even if they do have room. Once an owner has come to that decision they wont change their minds.

Frettchen Mon 11-Nov-13 17:45:24

Hi OP -I hope you're still reading this. Sorry you're in this horrid position.

I can't really advise/opine on what you should do - I don't know enough of the details. However, here's what I would do;

(Disclaimer: I'm in the 'keep the dog and fix the problem' camp)

Give the dog his own space. All depends on your house layout; is there anywhere your daughter is already not allowed to go? The kitchen? Utility? A spare bedroom? Somewhere with a single access point. Get a dog flap; install it in a sheet of MDF cut to fit the lower part of the doorway; hinge it so you and your husband can get in. This should effectively create a babygate which the dog can pass through but the children cannot. This room is now a child-free zone; leave the crate in there, door open, as it's the source of the threat. Now dog can keep out of the way when the children are awake/active. Make sure you use the room - coming and going and basically reinforcing that it is your space and he is using it, rather than it being just his space.

I'm not sure what crate you have/where and how it's set up; but the crates I use are the metal barred ones - if you have a fearful dog, a crate like this might be too open. If you can't do the above, then my first action would be to cover the crate with throws/dog blankets - make it dark inside so he can't see the kids. Also you'd have to be very proactive about teaching your daughter not to go close to the crate if the dog's in it and the door is open, this means being constantly vigilant and acting before your daughter has got too close. Bloody hard work, but it will reassure your dog that you are protecting him, not just shouting when he is scared and protecting himself.

Also, as a PP says, it might be worth looking at your dog's energy levels. Talk to your husband and explain that he is going to have to take the dog out for an extra walk in the early morning/evening (or whenever timewise it fits) as it's good for the dog to have that exercise time, and also it's a calming/rewarding activity for the dog.

Finally - my main soap-boxy/opinion-stating bit, and my reason for advocating going to all the above effort is two-fold;
1 - I do believe that when you take a dog into your family that dog is your responsibility and that all possible solutions should be attempted before rehoming (or destroying as another PP mentioned)
2 - Whilst it is good that your breed rescue would put your dog into a foster home, he might not settle in that foster home and end up being stressed and uprooted a good many times - it's impossible to know how that will affect him. Not to mention that most people aren't looking to rehome a 7 year old dog. So I'd just want you to understand what it would mean to rehome him - he might live out another 6-8 years in a myriad of foster homes, stressed and scared. He might take to it really well and just accept it without issue - so I'm not trying to put an emotional spin on things. I just think it's important to be aware of the potential consequences of rehoming. Just as it's important to be aware that if you do keep the dog and not make any changes then there could be some very real consequences of keeping a frightened/uncomfortable/territorial dog with a toddler.

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