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Pregnant and our dog bit me

(36 Posts)
babyboy2018 Mon 28-May-18 08:29:06

Just after some advice from those with experience of reactive dogs. Sorry it's a long one, just want to set context.

Our dog, who we got in October at 6 months old, can be reactive in certain situations, not all the time and not with all dogs and people. When she does she will bark loudly and pull towards the person/dog on her lead but has never shown any signs of being aggressive. When she's not on a lead she is much happier and will just have a quick sniff a little friendly bark and carry on her way, always coming back to me immediately when recalled even if she's playing with another dog. When she reacts I try and distract her or just keep walking away from the other dog.

For context she is very cute so people are always trying to stroke her (or tell their children to 😡) she doesn't like it so I stop and say loudly, 'she is not friendly, please don't touch her' before walking away so I'd never let her get too close to strangers. In our home she is happy to receive fuss and attention and loves our friends and their children, even upon meeting them for the first time, she still barks a bit but it seems out of excitement and she will trot around after them. She will bark excessively when people walk past the house, we are moving to a house with the living area in the back to reduce this.

Yesterday everything changed, we took her for a walk at a new place and she barked at everyone and everything, really high pitched and frantic barking, panting loudly and seemed to be on high alert, we decided that it was too much and turned back to the car. She caught site of a dog behind us and started barking ferociously I turned and waked quickly away, she pulled to get to the dog and after realising she couldn't, she turned and bit my leg, I was so shocked, as was she, my SIL took her from me and she just sat at her feet as if nothing had happened. She punctured the skin but mainly just badly bruised.

I'm 5 months pregnant (went to the walk in and have antibiotics) so am in a horrible position of loving our dog with all my heart but being terrified she could potentially bite our child if she does this again. I am her main human as I WFH a lot and so am with her all the time so I feel if she has done it to me, anyone is fair game. (I would never let her loose in public or close to anyone else) I can't bare the thought of not having her in our lives but feel I'd be irresponsible having her around a baby/toddler. Obviously I'd never leave them alone but I can't realistically sit between them every moment of the day or keep her shut out.

We took her to training but she was so disruptive we couldn't keep going as it wasn't fair on the others.

We are happy to pay for 1-2-1 training but will this be enough? Can a dogs instinct and behaviour change drastically or will there always be the risk she could snap?

I'm so conflicted and upset so would really appreciate any advice or outcomes of a similar experience.

Dementedswan Mon 28-May-18 08:32:24

To be perfectly honest. I wouldn't have that dog around a new baby. Perhaps a behavourist could help but I don't know if I would take that chance. She sounds highly reactive and aggressive to me.

Slartybartfast Mon 28-May-18 08:32:36

i dont like the fact that she was too disruptive for dog training.
would you ever trust her with your family?

BiteyShark Mon 28-May-18 08:35:27

No experience of that I am afraid but if my dog bit me the first thing I would do is find a good behaviourist (probably by asking my vet for a recommendation and getting him checked over physically) and get them to help me initially by paying for as much 1-1 sessions I could afford.

Only after I had done that and understood why it happened and what I would need to do to modify that behaviour could I then decide what to do in your circumstances given you have a baby on the way.

Bubblysqueak Mon 28-May-18 08:40:08

first take her to the vet. our ddog was the most laid back friendly dog you could imagine but one day whilst on holiday he snapped at a stranger ( who stupidly decided to wiggle his fingers in front if his face) .
The next morning he had collapsed and and needed a massive operation due to problems with his stomach. He had been in loads if pain so no wonder he snapped.

AnotherOriginalUsername Mon 28-May-18 08:40:40

The bite incident sounds like misdirected aggression. She didn't mean to bite you, she just got so wound up she "lashed out" at the nearest thing.

You need to see your vet for a health check and then get a behaviour referral ASAP. Please only see a behaviourist recommended by your vet - they will be suitably qualified and accredited, it's not a protected term, anyone can (and sadly do) set up as "behaviourists" and do more harm than good.

It sounds fear based. It sounds workable but will take a lot of time and effort. I'd hazard a guess that her early appeasement signals have gone unnoticed for a while hence the escalation in her behaviour.

I'm in a similar position with a fear aggressive dog who is manageable day to day (although severely impacts our life) and I've decided that my dog will be PTS prior to baby being born (I have 6 months to go, we were going to wait until the dog wasn't around but medically I was told it's now or never) the difference being that my dog is 16 years old and to manage him and a baby safely would be way too much stress and simply unfair for him in his twilight years.

Almostthere15 Mon 28-May-18 08:40:56

I think even if you can get a 1 on 1 trainer it will take time to correct and you don't have much time. If the behaviour was very out of character, and I can't quite tell from your ok whether it was amplified normal or very different, I think she might need a physical check.

It's so frustrating to have a gorgeous but not very friendly dog as people send their children up all the time. I spent many a walk saying "please don't, she doesn't really like people" and then people would be all "oh I don't mind"!

What s her breed - are there any specific rescues you could speak to? Ultimately I would be very wary about a small child and a dog that has bitten under stress, because children are stressful no matter how well you try to manage it.

I'm sorry, I know it's a hard decision

tabulahrasa Mon 28-May-18 08:41:23

“I feel if she has done it to me, anyone is fair game.”

Only if they were closest while she was over threshold and couldn’t get to what she was reacting to... redirected aggression doesn’t mean she’d bite in other circumstances.

You do want to be getting a behaviourist in though.

ElspethFlashman Mon 28-May-18 08:41:49

You can't have the dog around a baby. Yes you could do training but it's throwing the dice and gambling - with your baby.

We had a reactive dog. We called him our first born, we were besotted. But after the baby was born he was constantly on edge and we were constantly on nip alert. We rang a behaviouralist who said bluntly "That dog needs to be out of that house. Now!" We were shocked, stunned, surely there was training? But the behaviouralist told us we can't gamble like that. Training would take a long time, have no guarantee of working, and our baby would be in danger every hour in between.

So we rehomed. Deeply upsetting but as the baby got older and started to get lively, we realised how dangerous it would have gotten.

babyboy2018 Mon 28-May-18 08:48:43

Thank you for your replies. I'm not sure I can trust her at all but it would break my heart to give up on her as she is part of our family and it's really not an easy decision to make. 99% of the time she is a lovely dog. She was around our whole family at my bbq last weekend playing with the children and and loving all the attention, our dog walkers 2 year old walks her and she adores her. I'll look at a behaviourist and hope that they can advise. She was disruptive at training as she had to be on a lead in a room full of dogs, which for her was difficult, she didn't show any aggression but barked a lot. The lead seems to make a real difference.

babyboy2018 Mon 28-May-18 08:57:23

Sorry, more responses came in whilst I was writing. Yes I do believe it wasn't intentional and it was just out of fear and lashing out. I will take her to the vets for a health check and then as for a realistic opinion from a recommended behaviouralist. She is a Tibetan Terrier and this was very out of character, although she is often vocal she isn't aggressive and is trusted around children due to being gentle. She loves the dogs in the family and is walked as part of a group, so it's not all dogs, just some. No one can believe this has happened. I just don't want to give up without doing all I can but also don't want to be an irresponsible parent.

tinymeteor Mon 28-May-18 09:05:47

I think you have to face facts - this is a dog with problems that would never in a million years be considered suitable for a household with a baby if she were being rehomed now. Behaviourists will be able to suggest things but you won't be able to do them consistently with a newborn on your hands, and trying to do so will make the exhausting newborn months totally overwhelming for you.

Find a good charity that can help her find an owner who can do the behavioural work she needs. Give her the best chance by doing it now. If you wait until she's worse or she's bitten a child her rehoming options will be zero, not to mention the obvious risk to the child.

TimeToDash Mon 28-May-18 09:08:07

Get him checked over by a vet in case it's a medical thing? How did you react to the bite? Did he feel like he 'got away' with it or did you scold him? I have to say it doesn't sound the best dog to have around children. You will never relax and a crawling baby could lunge at him. Doesn't bear thinking about. I would wait until the child was a little older then get a safe breed like a cavalier King Charles spaniel.

Summer1986 Mon 28-May-18 09:11:17

Could she be coming into season? Our dog had a change of behaviour when she was coming into her first season, not aggressive but I think every dog is different.

stayhomeclub Mon 28-May-18 09:13:37

I would work with a behaviourist one to one with a keen eye on how your life will change in the next year and how you can all adapt. Take their advice on how to both work on this and prepare for the baby.

I wouldn’t rehome her, as awful as that sounds. Lots of dogs that don’t bite can’t find a home. If you have to make that decision, to avoid her being passed from pillar to post I would pts. But give it a go with a behaviourist first and cross that bridge if you come to it.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Mon 28-May-18 09:33:32

I have a mildly reactive dog, and it's hard - you have my sympathies.

He was a frustrated greeter with other dogs - happy if he could get to them and say hello, but would become frustrated within a few seconds if he was on lead and couldn't get there at 100mph, so he'd start barking and lunging. The fact that your dog is much better off lead makes me wonder if she might be more of a frustrated greeter? Or perhaps just leash reactive?

Mine is also motorbike reactive, and like yours he has redirected onto my legs a few times. As @tabulahrasa correctly identifies, it's about you being closest at that point in time, and the red mist / very intense stress having descended; I honestly don't think mine knows what he's done and it's not about redirecting onto me - he once redirected onto my suitcase! My dog has never even come close to biting in other circumstances (great bite inhibition in play, for instance) and can be trusted with children... When there are no motorbikes around (I don't have children of my own, but I'm talking about small children on public transport who want to say hello, and the 5/7/8 year olds he recently charmed on a family weekend gathering)

Join the Facebook group Reactive Dogs UK. I've never managed to fully implement the CARE protocol they recommend for practical reasons, but it is a great source of support, and also for helping me keep a sense of perspective as to how bad my dog isn't!

If you don't want people to approach your dog, have a look at the Yellow Dog Project, and get something very, very prominent (eg a bright yellow coat) that says No Dogs, Don't Touch etc (eBay also has some options if the Yellow Dog Project hasn't got exactly what you want). You can always take it off in the park when you're happy for her to play with other dogs.

Do consider muzzle training, if only to save your legs in the interim!

Get a vet check to check for pain related issues, and then get a good quality behaviourist - someone CCAB or APBC accredited; do your own research on whoever your vet refers to. It's not a training issue, it's a behaviour issue, so you need a behaviourist not a trainer. Depending on your pet insurance, you may find that your insurance covers it.

babyboy2018 Mon 28-May-18 09:33:56

Thank you, lots of different advice. I wouldn't be able to relax but I will put the time in and do all I can to save her being rehomed/in a dogs home.

AnotherOriginalUsername Mon 28-May-18 09:35:42

I wouldn’t rehome her, as awful as that sounds. Lots of dogs that don’t bite can’t find a home. If you have to make that decision, to avoid her being passed from pillar to post I would pts. But give it a go with a behaviourist first and cross that bridge if you come to it.

I'd agree with this. If she isn't a safe/suitable dog for your family you cannot just pass the problem on to someone else (although a good behaviourist may help to re-home to a suitable person that they know well) or a breed specific rescue may be able to help. I'm a firm believer that there are many fates worse than euthanasia.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Mon 28-May-18 09:43:08

By the way, if you do end up rehoming your dog, pick your rescue carefully; there is an element of picking your poison.

For instance
- Dogs Trust have a selective intake policy, so they won't take dogs that are so reactive they wouldn't be safe even in an adult only, one dog home. But, once a dog is in they get a lot of behaviour (and other) resources thrown at them, and it's very rare that a dog turns out to be so mentally unhealthy that it has to be put down - which would be very extreme circumstances.
- Battersea will take any dog, but they do the behaviour assessment after the dog is signed over to them, and will put down those it feels beyond its capacity to help.

babyboy2018 Mon 28-May-18 09:43:46

Thank you Avocados, I'm a member but I found no one else knew about the yellow ribbon so it didn't work! It's worse because she looks like a teddy bear. I'll have a look at the coats though, a clear message would be better. I think it is about the lead, she is a different dog off lead or around familiar dogs. And very gentle with children. I do agree, I think she didn't mean it to be me, I was just there in the way, when she saw red. If it was just me to consider I wouldn't be so upset or even consider the alternative but with the baby on the way it's hard in case it happens again and it's not me standing there. I'm researching behaviouralists and have spoken to one who sounds very good. Will get the vets recommendations also.

ICantCopeAnymore Mon 28-May-18 09:43:54

YABVVVU letting a dog like that off the lead and I think you're incredibly lucky something worse hasn't happened yet.

babyboy2018 Mon 28-May-18 09:48:40

Didn't post in AIBU Ican'tcope and as I said, she had never shown aggression before and is only occasionally reactive to other dogs whilst on a lead. Obviously she won't be off lead from now on, I wouldn't be posting asking for advice if I was't a responsible dog owner who is aware of my own dogs issue.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Mon 28-May-18 09:52:50

Yellow ribbons are a bit subtle for joe public - those that know about it tend to have tricky dogs! I'm talking about super specific big coats like these, which can be seen and read from a distance. Not a panacea, but worth it if it even reduces the numbers. Your dog needs you to advocate for her needs, and this is the first stage of advocacy (stage two would be calling out "can you keep your dog back please")

MrsElla Mon 28-May-18 09:54:59

I wouldn't want it near my child and I'd have it muzzled on walks with a warning sign saying its dangerous

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Mon 28-May-18 09:59:17

PS a muzzle - even if not strictly necessary - can also give people the idea that your dog isn't friendly and should probably be avoided ;)

@ICantCope Can I safely presume from your comment that you haven't got any direct experience of reactive dogs? If the reactive dog doesn't see the trigger it won't react. Mine is motorbike reactive, and used to bark awfully at other dogs he couldn't greet immediately, but can very happily be let off lead in a busy London park. Because his trigger isn't there, he is perfectly safe - but the second we step outside the park he needs very careful management.

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