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Old grumpy dog and baby

(13 Posts)
doggonedoolally Thu 27-Apr-17 23:25:49

We have a 12 year old mahoosive dog (he outweighs me!) and five kids. The dog has been around for all of them and is another member of the family. He was rock solid with the first three then on number four he growled when the baby started crawling too close/on him. He was 10 then. We treated the growl as a gift of communication and made sure the baby/dog were never in the same place alone. Soon as the baby walked all was fine. I've had loads of kids in and out of our house and never had a problem.

But now he's 12 and he's suddenly become dog aggressive and started whirling round at joggers who get too close. Not barking or snapping but it's clearly aggressive. He's now on the leash at all times. The baby is just about to start crawling and I'm having a bit of a panic. He's a gorgeous old dog and deep down I don't think he would hurt a child as he's never hurt anyone or anything but he seems to be going unstable in his old age. The vet says he's sound but might be starting to get some form of dementia? Anyone else been in a similar position? I think I'm just going to have to keep them as separate as possible but it's hard going with 4 older kids opening and shutting doors etc.

DeanKoontz Thu 27-Apr-17 23:29:32

hmmm, baby or dog. difficult choice.

Is it something you really want to risk?

VerySadInside Thu 27-Apr-17 23:43:44

Does he get on well with the older kids? With them and you surely you are able to keep him and baby separate. Do you have a garden? Could you separate a section for him with large kennel? You can get second hand ones very cheaply. That would sort him out in emergency rushing around times. With a nice heat pad.

I don't think it's fair to have him put down, because he wouldn't get adopted at his age and dog aggression. Tbh if he's a bigger breed I wouldn't expect him to be around much longer. I would get second vet to check him over just to check there's no pain issues too.

ZilphasHatpin Thu 27-Apr-17 23:45:53

hmmm, baby or dog. difficult choice.

Where on earth did you see OP saying she had a choice between her baby and her dog? hmm

EssentialHummus Fri 28-Apr-17 00:00:02

That's tough OP, I'm sorry. I'd concentrate on keeping them separate.

doggonedoolally Fri 28-Apr-17 00:17:51

I think I'll have a second vet look him over. He's been the most loving patient family dog for over a decade. He's had kids fall on him and all sorts and never flinched. But my instincts say he's not quite in his right mind any more. His eyes seem a bit cloudy and I wonder if he sees as well as he used to. We have a good sized house but a very small garden so couldn't put a kennel in it. I'm beginning to curse having a open plan house.

This is the dog who, when a child cries, will haul his old bones out of bed find a toy and deposit it on said crying child and carry on burying them in toys until they stop. He's the ultimate tantrum stopper. But he's just so big and powerful if it went wrong it could go horribly wrong. I actually feel guilty not trusting him after all these years but his behaviour is changing. He never used to mind jogger at all. I wonder if he can't hear as well so they are surprising him?

Perhaps I'm better off putting the baby in a playpen when I can't be right there although I'm not sure how the baby will feel about that! Or I could start letting him up on the sofa? He's never been allowed on furniture before but it would give him a place to escape maybe?

EssentialHummus Fri 28-Apr-17 00:20:31

I'd try the playpen, presumably baby will be cruising or clambering on furniture before too long.

SpareChangeDownTheSofa Fri 28-Apr-17 00:27:10

I have noticed while some dogs get more lax as they get old some get more aggressive, this link may help:

www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-behavior-issues/behavior-problems-older-dogs

Some times it can be loss of sight or hearing meaning he is less aware of his surroundings. Dogs can also become confused and a little disoriented as they get old just like people do. Its lovely you've had him for so long though! smile

FrostyPopThePenguinLord Fri 28-Apr-17 01:14:17

The eyesight may be a factor if it's failing, could make him more on edge about things he isn't sure of. Does his hearing seem ok to you, might be worth asking about, same reason as the eyesight really, even gentle dogs can be unpredictable if surprised. The dementia issue would also not help.
Speaking as a dog owner and lover and having seen canine dementia in several cases and how it can progress I would have to make the hard choice and PTS, if I get flamed for this so be it.

I'm not insensitive or saying just throw his life away but if it is dementia you will have to deal with the realities of it in a big dog who realistically at 12 is doing pretty well to have gotten this far (I know there will be one person out there with a 25 year old Great Dane or something but I'm talking about the rule not the exceptions).

Dementia can not only make them more irritable and aggressive, which I imagine are your main concerns, but can also cause confusion resulting in issues with their daily routine.
Your dog which may have been beautifully housebroken his entire life could start making a mess indoors, which with young kids running around is not ideal. They can suffer with anxiety, and disturbed sleep cycles as well due to this confusion.
This is a sad time because it's no ones fault you dog is ill, but they don't understand and it can often be kinder to let them go.
If the worst should happen and your dog accidentally turned on a child/jogger/visiting friend through sheer confusion and misplaced aggression, that choice could be taken out of your hands and be all the more distressing for it.
You say you don't think your dog would ever go for your children, but think of dementia in humans, some people don't recognise their own children or partner of 50 years, during an episode you dog may not be able to differentiate between his beloved family he brings toys to and a terrifying crawling thing that he has no idea about, he is an animal and the fear response can be overwhelming and as you said he is a large dog so it could be very serious (I've seen smaller dogs do pretty serious damage too..).

Not trying to be that bitch who tells you to PTS your pet but as far as options go it may be one you have to consider, maybe not now but if it progresses then in the future, you just need to be prepared so you can make the right choice for him if the time comes.
It's one of the hardest things we will ever have to do and it has to be made for the good of the dog.

I wish you luck and hope it's something treatable x

buckyou Fri 28-Apr-17 07:29:02

This sounds difficult. I would maybe get a second opinion but think about the PTS option. I wouldn't normally be one to say that but he's reached a good age for a big dog and it can't be that much fun for him if he's not feeling his old self with rug rats round his feet.. or if he suddenly gets put in a kennel.

Must be very hard though. I'm not sure what id do if actually in the situation.

picklemepopcorn Fri 28-Apr-17 07:54:06

Have you muzzle trained him? Is that an option? It would guard against a hasty snap. It probably is his sight and hearing going, which makes him more defensive.

At his age you will need to think about PTS at some point, and it is much better to be prepared for that moment than to leave it too late. I'm not saying rush off and have it done, but be ready because the decline can be quite fast and it's much less traumatic if you have planned.

doggonedoolally Fri 28-Apr-17 19:45:11

What exactly goes into muzzle training?
Wouldn't he find it stressful to be muzzled after all these years? I have gently brought it up to DH that I think ddog isn't quite right anymore but he's hearing none of it. He says the dog has been bomb proof with the kids for over a decade. I would never rehome him. DH wants to make a huge playpen for the baby in the kitchen/diner.

picklemepopcorn Sat 29-Apr-17 06:30:58

Huge playpen is a great idea. If you have the space to make safe places for everyone, then great!

Muzzle training would be letting the dog see, smell etc the muzzle while giving lovely treats. The dog associates the treats with the muzzle. Gradually have the muzzle at the dogs face as the treats keep coming. Put the muzzle over the nose, immediately remove and treat. Leave it a little longer etc. Gradually build up to having the muzzle fully on and fastened. Then leave it on for longer, until the dog isn't bothered.

It may save you some anxiety when you are out and about, or the children and dog are together.

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