My baby is due early September, I've been gradually reducing the amount of time I spend with my dogs, DH has been taking on the walking, it's not as frequent as they are used to & the times they go are mixed up due to his schedule. They are spending more time in a room separate to us, and I've been playing a crying baby sound effect to try & introduce it to the house! Set up the Moses basket downstairs so it's not a strange object introduced to them. We've got 12 y/o springer who is sound around children & a 5 y/o staff x rescue who is not. He's a nervous dog, but we've really tried to work hard with his training, he's shown some aggression towards a child who came into our home, he'd never met her before & he was the other side of the the patio door, she looked out at him & he started growling & snapping at the window. It's made me very nervous. We've had two trainers out to him in the time we've had him (16 months) one trainer told us to rehome. I just don't know what to do for the best, I was thinking having a newborn would give him chance to get used to having a child around, but can't help but worry he's going to be a risk. I know i will need to be super careful, but never having had a child before I don't know how to best prepare. Please don't flame me, I don't want to give him up, I love him to bits & really wanted to do the best for him, the rescue did not provide much background to him, we didn't know when we got him we were going to have a baby, and we've tried our hardest with training. WWYD? Persevere? I can't help but think he would be PTS if he goes back to the home, do you think my preparations with them are suitable? We plan to baby gate all over the house, already started with their area (dining room) Advice welcome
Only you can answer this. Newborn babies are easy because they will not approach or threaten a dog (most incidents when a newborn has been hurt or killed by a dog have been due to predatory actions - dogs do not identify babies as human because they smell, look, sound and behave so differently to the humans they know, and so may view them as prey). As babies become mobile and start to toddle this is a really high risk, high stress period. It is imperative that the dog has a safe haven the baby cannot access and that you are very familiar with the subtle signs of stress and anxiety which a dog will show before resorting to aggression. Once children reach 5 or 6 years of age (IME anyway) they are more trustworthy and build their own positive relationship with the dog, but remember by then your dog will be elderly and so things like deafness, pain and other illness may be factors which affect their feelings about children.
You will need to be extremely vigilant, but you know this. If you don't feel you can be vigilant enough the you need to rehome now. If you think it is within your abilities then you need to make it easy for your dog by getting them used to being alone more (as you have) and providing quiet stimulation away from where the baby will be, so for example feed from Kongs instead of a bowl, and feed in a crate, or use treat balls in a gated room.
He's a nervous dog, but we've really tried to work hard with his training, he's shown some aggression towards a child who came into our home, he'd never met her before & he was the other side of the the patio door, she looked out at him & he started growling & snapping at the window
Was this the only incident with children? Just wondering if he saw a sudden movement through the glass, plus a reflection of himself and felt confused/stressed out by this? Had he met the child before the incident when child was the other side of the patio door, or had he been out in the garden and child suddenly appeared? This could confuse him, make him think he needed to guard etc. Just pondering...
Time with your newborn should be a happy (and tiring) time so you don't want to be worrying about the dog. However, the baby will be in a moses basket, in your arms or in a cot, not toddling around like the other child. As you said, you can easily put measures in place to ensure safety of everyone and the least stress for your dog. Would just be interested to hear more about circumstances of incident you mentioned. Congratulations, by the way
Thank you for your replies. He had never met this child. I put the dogs outside before she came in the house. She toddled up to the glass to look at the doggy he saw her & immediately began to growl & 'air bite' I walked her away from the glass. He has met another little girl before, she stood in front if him staring at him, he stared back, I noticed he'd gone stiff so removed him from the room. I didn't shout at him, just quietly took him away. I know dogs give warnings but on two occasions he hasn't. He bit my friend on her hand once. Not badly. I knew where we had slipped up though. It had been thundering, he was already worked up, my friend knocked at the door, I opened it & he followed me to the door she put her hand out to stroke him & he bit her. Another occasion he was behind the baby gate, my brother in law leaned over to stroke him & he growled & snapped. Didn't catch him but both instances have rattled me. I don't know whether to tell him off or send him to bed or just kick myself for putting him in a position that he's uncomfortable in. Both times he seemed to 'know' he'd done wrong, he took himself off to bed and stayed there. He sounds like a monster but he's really not, he loves to be stroked and lights up when he sees us. I'm just scared his 'guarding' is getting worse.
My first port of call would be an APBC behaviourist, rather than a general trainer, who is unlikely to be equipped to deal with this. Do not tell him off. He is most likely reacting through fear and telling him off would only make him more stressed.
I would have them out for a full assessment, with full and frank disclosure of all incidents and his character. Of course he is not a monster, he is most likely quite a frightened boy. However, with a baby on the way you need to have a management and behavioural modification plan in place.
Where did he come from - you mention he is at risk if returned? Not to bash you at all but these types of things are why I always recommend people go to a rescue that does not pts and will give a lifelong commitment to take the dog back.
He came from a local shelter, he'd been there for two years & returned once before. When we asked why he was returned with much scorn we were just told the family didn't give him enough time & let him down. They didn't say if he had done anything wrong. They said no one wanted him because he's just another black staffie. So worried if he did go back they would want to know why & PTS. I can't do that to my boy. We had a trainer from ADBT is that different?
I see - I'm involved in rescue and have a staffie myself and it makes me really cross when rescues aren't open and honest.
APDT is the organisation for dog trainers. Training and behaviour work are somewhat different, although some people are qualified to do both. Trainers will generally be able to help with teaching desirable behaviours - calm greetings, general obedience, maybe minor guarding issues - but are not usually equipped to deal with serious behavioural issues stemming from the underlying emotional state of the dog. In this case, where a dog is displaying aggressive behaviours, you really need a qualified behaviourist rather than a dog trainer.