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Mum's new dog and dc's, AIBU?

(44 Posts)
minifingerz Thu 07-Apr-16 11:11:14

Gah, big strops going down all over the place because db and I have raised concerns about my elderly mum's new rescue dog and it's reliability around children. It's a beagle/jack russell cross, four years old, and it's behaviour is quite concerning (at least me and db think so). Mum and sister (who live together) describe the dog as 'nervous' and just needs time to settle in (they've had it for six weeks) but its behaviour is actually more complex than that. Things which it does:
- constant, bold thieving, including sticking its snout into your tea cup while you're holding it and slurping your tea
- walking around the kitchen on its hind legs looking for food to snaffle off the side (note - it's not underfed)
- jumping on your lap when you sit down and staring into your face
- staring at you in a concentrated manner
- jumping up onto the back of the sofa when you're sitting there so its standing above you
- growling at the children when they're on the other side of the room and not doing anything more than looking at it (doesn't do this all the time but has done it 4 or 5 times)
- running after and nipping the elbow of two of the children as they were walking away from it.
- hurling itself at smaller dogs on walks who come anywhere near it and trying to savage them.

To me that says 'aggressive dog' and I'm concerned about having it around my children. However, my mum is elderly and would be very upset if I didn't bring the children around, so under strict instruction to LEAVE THE DOG ALONE we are still going around. DCs are 10, 12 and 16, so not tiny. However, brother's dc's are younger - 6 and 8, and he is massively reluctant to take them around to my mum's.

After this first all came up mum went and got a cage, and has kept the dog in it when my kids come around, but as I knew she would, she ends up letting it out after a few hours because she feels sorry for it. Sure enough, within 5 minutes it's sitting on ds's lap staring at him, while he looks frozen with fear.

Sister and mum are angry with me for 'making a fuss' about it. They think the dog just needs time to settle in. I think the dog needs to see a behaviourist, and after pissing them off by mentioning this every time I've been round, they've now reluctantly made an appointment with one, five weeks after I first suggested it, and only after it had nipped two of the children on two separate occasions..

My sister is really quite angry with my brother and me for talking about it behind hers and mums backs, but they both get so wound up about it - mum in particular is HUGELY over sensitive to any criticism of the dog, that you can't have a sensible conversation with them. This morning my sister got cross with me and insisted that she would 'monitor the dog constantly' while the children were round, to which I responded that unless she's standing over it 100% of the time with her hand on its collar every time it comes near a child then she can't guarantee it's not going to bite their faces.

So, am I being a fuss pot about the dog, and is my brother being unreasonable not to bring his children even if my mum promises to crate it while they're there, because my mum can't be trusted to keep it in the crate, and because both dsis and dm are trivialising the risk to the children because its inconvenient and annoying to them to have to deal with the dog's difficult behaviour around kids?

Stanky Thu 07-Apr-16 11:27:07

The dog would worry me too. Hopefully the behaviourist will be able to help, because the situation sounds stressful for all concerned. It will be beneficial to your mum and sister for the dog to be better behaved any way.

My dm's dog is a bit of an ASBO dog as well. She's bitten loads of people, and the dc have learned a healthy respect for dogs, and steer well clear. It upsets my dm when people talk badly about the dog, but she won't address the problems. We've all just learned to live with it now.

SalemSaberhagen Thu 07-Apr-16 11:35:30

Stanky your DM is incredibly selfish. That dog should be put down.

OP YANBU. I would refuse to go there.

NeedACleverNN Thu 07-Apr-16 11:43:00

Well the dog is not agressive but it does have issues

A behaviourist probably would aid them but your dm is right that it needs time to settle.

They are both finding their feet and seeing what works and what doesn't.

The least she can do during the settlement period is shut the dog away when your children are around and when there is food about

Sunnybitch Thu 07-Apr-16 11:44:16


It's far to late when it bites one of them on the face and they are scared for life....or worse!!!
How many stories have you heard In the news where it was the grandparents (or another family member's) dog that mauled a child!
It's not worth the risk and you and your brother areally definitely right to be concerned and cautious around this animal

Sunnybitch Thu 07-Apr-16 11:46:11

bloody auto correct!

MyKingdomForBrie Thu 07-Apr-16 11:46:18

Jack Russell's are notorious for terrier like behaviours like this. Never let the children be in the room with the dog when there is food around and clearly never leave them unsupervised (as you wouldn't).

I agree that training is needed, with professional advice.

minifingerz Thu 07-Apr-16 11:47:37

"your DM is incredibly selfish"

She's very much caught up in wishful thinking about the dog.

She so wants everything to be ok that she is convincing herself it is.

itshappenedagain Thu 07-Apr-16 11:51:21

If it's nipping at dc as they walk away it needs to be returned to the rejoining centre for more work. It is showing very territorial behaviour and as your dm and DS are doing nothing about it I would call the rehoming centre myself before it does actually cause serious harm to someone.

minifingerz Thu 07-Apr-16 11:54:30

The sad thing is, I love dogs, and have a beautiful well-socialised labrador of my own, and my mum's dog is really cute. It looks like dobby from Harry Potter (if you can imagine Dobby as a dog). But it's just such an odd animal, and my mum has got form for having poorly socialised dogs and making them worse by the way she treats them (example: do you want your dog to bark hysterically every time you come in and then jump all over you and claw holes in your tights? No? Then stop bloody giving them biscuits and massively fussing them each and every blessed time you enter the house!)

Farahilda Thu 07-Apr-16 11:55:52

They've only had the dog 6 weeks, so I don't think it's only wishful thinking that some improvements in behaviour might be achieved.

But they are totally wrong not to keep it reliably away from visitors, and their failure to do that would lead me to suspend visits except for when I could accompany them throughout.

aginghippy Thu 07-Apr-16 11:59:37

YANBU and neither is your brother.

Yes the dog needs time to settle, but it also needs training. If your mother wants everything to be ok, she needs to put time and effort into training the dog.

Floralnomad Thu 07-Apr-16 12:00:54

Didn't you ask this exact question a few weeks ago ?

getyourfingeroutyournose Thu 07-Apr-16 12:02:38

I wonder if they rehomed the dog with your DM and DSis based on the fact that they have no children of their own? Sounds like the dog has behavioural issues and isn't okay around kids (which should have been tested before they rehomed the dog). Not only is this dangerous for children but it's not good for the dog. Dogs act like this normally when stressed etc. Could you imagine being frightened of something and your owner insisting that multiple things that you are scared of came round often and nothing was done about it other than being put in a cage whilst the scary things roamed free??
The dog needs a behaviourist and the rehoming centre needs to be made aware of this. Your DM needs to tell them they are making an effort with a professional regarding this behaviour but if the dog needs to not be around kids and other dogs then the poor thing needs a home without both of those things so he doesn't go crazy trying to defend himself from things that terrify him all the time.

HerbieRidesAgain Thu 07-Apr-16 12:05:45

How long does a dog take to settle in?
I wouldn't be going round myself, I don't like dogs much - I tolerate them but a dog such as this would keep me away

PhilPhilConnors Thu 07-Apr-16 12:07:25

YANBU, but in your list in the op, the only things that I think are concerning are growling at the DC and nipping them, but this is probably lack of socialising around DC rather than out and out aggression.
The others in the list sound like things that need to be trained out (if they are a problem to your DM), antisocial dog behaviour but not necessarily aggressive. Unless accompanied with aggressive body language.

If your DM won't address the growling or snapping, or at least make sure the dog is kept away from where the DC are, I wouldn't take the DC round.

KindDogsTail Thu 07-Apr-16 12:08:22

I am an experienced dog owner and sympathetic to your Mum having rescued the dog but I definitely think that it will not settle down on its own and urgently needs to have a behaviourist work with it extensively.

The behaviourist would need to see how dominatingly it is behaving, especially towards the children, or hear about it from you, as it sounds as though your Mum and sister are denying everything.

Stealing food should be stopped. I don't know if he 'guards' and snarls about food too, but that is potentially dangerous especially with the children.

Also what you said here is very worrying:

*^growling at the children when they're on the other side of the room and not doing anything more than looking at it (doesn't do this all the time but has done it 4 or 5 times)
- running after and nipping the elbow of two of the children as they were walking away from it.
- hurling itself at smaller dogs on walks who come anywhere near it and trying to savage them^*

You could telephone a behaviourist or dog trainer and tell them what you have said here. Someone who runs your local Dogs Trust might speak to you too. They probably would not charge you just for this. They would certainly confirm that your Mum's dog needs special assessment/training and maybe then she will listen to you.

Cage This may not be enough of a solution. A dog cannot be left on a cage too long. I think it is about three hours maximum - if it has had enough exercise, been fed etc. Muzzle
It sounds as though it should wear a muzzle on walks, and maybe too when the children come.

CatchIt Thu 07-Apr-16 12:09:12

I'm not surprised you & your db are worried. I'm a dog person but I don't have any illusions about what dogs are capable of, including my own (and she's a large breed).

IMHO, a beagle/jack Russell cross would be one of the worst combinations, neither are particularly easy to train and JR's are renowned for being nippy so I would be concerned that the rescue didn't question your mum & sister in regards to whether children are present.

I hope it works out for you and that the behaviourist can help the dog.

mouldycheesefan Thu 07-Apr-16 12:09:33

I wouldn't go round there with an annoying dog in the loose. Especially with the "nipping". However I don't like dogs /pets.

Rainbowlou1 Thu 07-Apr-16 12:13:43

I have (had) a friend with 2 dogs exactly like this and when they're jumping on my lap sticking their noses in my tea and trying to lick my face she says ahh do you love your auntie rainbow hmm
They growled at my son constantly and nipped his hand and she excused it by saying hey were nervous around men (he was 5!!)
We don't go there anymore...grin

KindDogsTail Thu 07-Apr-16 12:13:55

A lot of what Getyourfinger says is true I think.

There could be all sorts of reasons for his behaviour.

Did the rescue who put him with your Mum realise children would be involved?

Daisydukes79 Thu 07-Apr-16 12:14:48

Could you present it to your mother and sister as
It's clear the dog is getting stressed out being around the kids. It's not fair stressing the dog out as it could push it towards further nipping or serious biting which will then result in it having to be pts. It's fairer and safer for THE DOG not to be put in the position where it will react, so it's better that it's popped in the crate with some lovely treats/a filled Kong toy while the kids are here.
They might react better if you make it like you are thinking of the dog too iykwim.

IceBeing Thu 07-Apr-16 12:18:02

As someone who got bitten on the face by a jack russell as a child I really think you need to train your DM. The moment she opens the cage and lets the dog out you take your kids and you leave. Repeat until she gets the message.

PhilPhilConnors Thu 07-Apr-16 12:18:48

Meant to say as well that dog - dog aggression does not mean that the dog will be aggressive with people.
Lots of dogs are dog aggressive, which does need to be addressed, but as long as they are walked responsibly and kept well under control (possibly muzzled) this shouldn't mean the dog is going to savage people.

The growling and nipping to me show fear, if the dog has never met children before, it's going to be frightening for it. Your mother needs to either socialise it, probably with help, or make sure it can have no contact.

When my old jrt was a puppy, the vets went down the route of dominance and pack theory, eg, our dog would sit at the top of the stairs and watch us - this was seen as a bad thing. When pack theory and dominance was debunked, they completely changed their stance about this and said that she was simply finding a quiet place to sit.

Looking at the issue through the eyes of the dog, a rescue so probably with a difficult background, can help to prevent so many issues, or help the dog to recover and lose the difficult habits, but it does take work and patience, it doesn't sound like your DM is ideally suited to this.

minifingerz Thu 07-Apr-16 12:19:05

"Didn't you ask this exact question a few weeks ago ?"

I did and got some good responses.

But mum has still not done anything about it, and I've had an angry sister on the phone this morning, which has needles me about it.

What has also moved on is that they've got a crate now, but the dog isn't being made to stay in it. It's also causing a lot of bad feeling between my mum and brother as he wont bring his dc's to the house to get bitten and my mum is feeling sad and lonely!

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