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Dog aggression, what do I do?

(11 Posts)
WorriedMummy2013 Mon 01-Jul-13 12:39:23

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?

sad

cjel Mon 01-Jul-13 14:12:18

get a dog behaviour expert to visit quickly. If it was me (i've had bull mastifs and five grandchildren so am not a dog hater!!) I would have the dog rehomes, i would never trust it again with the child as it grows.xx

HPsauceonbaconbuttiesmmm Mon 01-Jul-13 14:17:12

Agree with cjel I'm afraid. You can keep baby away now but what about when he's crawling, walking, chasing the dog? Some dogs just don't do well in an environment with kids.

I'm very sorry, I love animals and know your dog is part of the family. BUT...

LEMisdisappointed Mon 01-Jul-13 14:23:30

Ive posted on your doghouse thread - but you do have time on your hands before the baby is moving around, you have time to establish positive associations with the dog and baby. I would be sensible and start looking for a home in the meantime but i think you could mke this work, you don't have to get rid of the dog now this instance.

D0oinMeCleanin Mon 01-Jul-13 14:30:35

I wouldn't say get rid but do contact a APBC registered behaviorist immediately. You can find them Here If you can get a vet referal your pet insurance might cover it, so that is worth looking into.

For now I would keep the dog and baby apart, using stair gates if necessary, until you speak to the behaviorist.

12 week old babies have a tendancy to stare at things, which dogs hate, they find this very threatening. That's not to say all is lost, as LEM said, you have plenty of time to fix this. A behaviorist can and will help.

At 8 your dog is 'old' in terms of rehoming, couple that with a history of 'child aggression' and he stands little chance of being rehomed, so he really does deserve for you to put your all into it.

On the plus side it is good that your dog gave a warning. Never punish for this, always respect that your dog is telling you he is uncomfortable and do something to change this for him eg. move away.

monstergoose Mon 01-Jul-13 19:34:27

Can you think about kennelling or a run outside if you have the space? I used up take mine to work and they had a large kennel/ run in the yard at work. I used tarpaulin on the top and sides to weatherproof it and unless it was very cold they were quite happy in there. You coukd them bring your dog in the house once your lo has gone to sleep. It's not ideal especially if you dog isnt used to it but uf behaviour therapy doesn't go well and you don't want to rehome then it might be ok as a last resort. If you did then I would say start with short supervised periods to get him used to it, you could also feed him in there. Wrt rehoming, yes if he goes to a dogs home he'll probably struggle to find a home but you could try advertising in vets or asking them to keep an eye out, an ideal home might be an older couple without kids that have perhaps lost their own dog recently. Good luck with whatever you decide to do

Haggisfish Mon 01-Jul-13 20:23:41

Similar happened with my dog (a beagle) - she ended up snarling at my daughter and catching her on the eyelid (not a bite, she just caught DD with her tooth). We had to have the dog put down - I just couldn't trust her around children anymore, and her life would have been pretty miserable to be kept outside all the time. I felt absolutely awful, but you have to put children first - how terrible would you feel if the dog did do anything to your child? Or another child? My dog was also ill (a dodgy lump), and quite old so possibly a different situation.

GingerJulep Mon 01-Jul-13 21:08:28

So sad.

Depending on the size of your property you may be able to keep them apart with gates for some time, no?

E.g. dog with run of kitchen/garden, child with rest of house and sling/high chair when older?

As long as everyone is careful you could let dog into living room for evenings...

Would your mum take on the dog if necessary? (Serious re-homing question as, presumably she doesn't have young kids and, if she didn't even notice it sat next to her shoulder isn't bothered by dogs!)

MrsFoodie Mon 08-Jul-13 12:36:11

Oh that's so sad, last year we had a similar incident. My dog (which I had for 8 years) went for my 8 month's baby. My LO had just started crawling then out of the blue the dog just snapped a DS, he didn't actually bite but he gave a warning bite on the face leaving a light red mark. It was terrifying it happened so quick that if the dog had meant to bite there would have been nothing I could have done to prevent it.
The dog had shown aggression a couple of years earlier to my niece, I had tried a behaviorist for the aggression, hoped that it had gone and somehow would treat LO as part of the family.. However I don't believe you can ever trust a dog that shows aggression to children, we have no idea how dogs mind work's, they are dog's not people..
This was devastating, the dog I had loved for 8 years was now what I a threat, I could not put my LO in danger. The dog had to go. We gave him to the local animal shelter (we had told them everything), they did an assessment and put him up for re-homing (never to be homed with children etc).. Within a month the found him a home.
It was the right decision, although it was heartbreaking. But the guilt I felt for putting my child in danger (I still feel), there is no contest you can not risk a LO for a dog.

MrsFoodie Mon 08-Jul-13 12:38:58

Also we did think of separating them, but its only matter of time before someone forgets to shut the gate or LO is old enough to open the gate etc.

Branleuse Mon 08-Jul-13 12:50:58

the responsibility should always be to your child who deserves you to keep her safe.
the dog is just a pet

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