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Dog snapped at baby, help!(54 Posts)
Desperately need advice!
I have a 9yo female Pekingese. My baby is 10mo. The dog loves the baby, sits close to him and licks him. On a few occasions the baby has pulled the dog and the dog hasn’t minded. Obviously I discourage this. But over the last few weeks since the baby started to crawl the dog has lunged at him a couple of times. Usually because the dog is next to me and the baby has approached. I resolved this by cuddling the dog while someone else holds the baby, then sending the dog to lie down while I play with the baby.
However the dog has now snapped at the baby unprovoked. The baby crawled up to the dog while she was sitting watching me prepare her dinner, and the dog snapped at the baby’s face and left a pink scratch on his cheek.
There are several issues here. The dog has recently been on a low fat diet prescribed by the vet and always seems very hungry. The dinner was a rare treat of roast chicken. The dog is old and achy and not used to children. Also I’m really struggling with the baby due to him being high needs, clingy and not sleeping. We’re all exhausted with his constant crying and clinging to me. The dog hasn’t had sufficient attention or walks because I can barely cope with the baby. And she has a history of being barky and snappy with other dogs, I keep her on a lead. She has also snapped at an adult’s face in the past - about three years ago she bit DH on the cheek when she was on my lap and he approached.
I immediately considered having the dog PTS. I genuinely love her and it’s breaking my heart but I have to protect my child. I’m worried that if I don’t get rid of her Social Services will attempt to take my child because I haven’t safeguarded him. And I feel sick just thinking about the damage she could have done if I hadn’t been nearby and grabbed the baby. Rehoming isn’t an option, not just because she’s old and bites, but also because she adores me and will pine away.
I fully accept that my dog’s behaviour is due to a lack of training and supervision on my part. I’ve treated her like my baby. Is there anything else I can do before considering having her PTS?
Keep them apart. If she can’t get to the baby, she can’t bite him.
Can you not keep them separate while the baby is crawling round? Baby gate/playpen?
The baby I understand but how did your DH's face get so close to hers? Dogs don't like that.
When the baby is crawling keep the dog restrained in a crate or different room. And stop letting people put their faces in your dog's face. To a dog that's very threatening behaviour.
Get a playpen for the dog /keep them seperate. If the dog gets repeatedly snappy maybe have her checked over by the vet? Could she possibly be losing her sight or hearing so the baby catches her by surprise.
You need to get rid of the dog. Your baby’s safety needs to be your top priority, you can’t ensure you will always be able to watch the dog around you baby nor be certain you can keep them apart.
Yourdog sounds like she is fiercely possessive of you and also potentially food Op.
It hasn't been a problem as you have chosen to go to your baby. Now baby is mobile she is perhaps guarding you from people. especially if she has snapped at your DH.
I won't tell you what to do. But the alternatives are pretty grim. Pts isn't the worse thing that can happen.
It wasn't unprovoked though, baby was going towards dog at feeding time. You need to keep them separate.
Obviously the first thing you need to do is make sure the dog and baby are kept completely separate, no exceptions.
I'd highly recommend joining the FB group Dog Training Advice and Support, it's run by professionals and if you post there you'll be able to get advice on managing your situation in the immediate future as well as being able to direct you towards an appropriately qualified behaviourist who covers your area. The group also has a collection of resources on the subject of dogs and babies/children which is definitely worth looking through.
You mention her being "old and achy", have you had her properly checked out by a vet recently? One of mine has arthritic hips and the first sign her meds aren't keeping her comfortable enough is that she starts getting snarky with my other dogs. If your girl is uncomfortable, which could be exacerbating her behaviour, then she needs treating/managing so she's not.
Dogs, food and babies/small children are not a good mix. Your dog was hungry and expecting food imminently, and saw your baby as a potential rival for the chicken. She reacted in an instinctive way. Ideally you would never let your baby around the dog when she is about to be fed/being fed, as a dog will always defend its food.
I have a Pekingese/bichon cross who has always been a bit snappy. She was eight when my first DGS was born, and had never been used to children or babies. Since then, she has adapted to them remarkably well. At one point we had a 2 year old and a baby living with us for almost a year, so she was 10 at the time. I never left her unsupervised around the children, and taught the children never to approach her when she’s eating or in her bed. She’s now 14 and still follows them round when they visit, and takes a great interest in them. She’s occasionally snapped if they’ve accidentally trodden on her tail, but she hasn’t bitten. Because she snaps, the children have learnt to respect her space and don’t pester her.
The main thing is to make sure your dog has a safe place where the baby can’t get to her, and ever leave them alone together even for a minute. Things will improve as your DS gets older and understands the limits that you impose.
I think this is something that can be managed with sensible supervision.
I don't allow my 10 and 14 year old around the dog when I'm feeding him and he doesn't resource guard ever but it's just common sense. To be honest you have been lucky that when you've allowed the baby to pull the dog around that she hasn't snapped before. IMO there is rarely such a thing as a bomb proof dog but behaviours can be easily managed it just requires time and effort.
Baby pulls dog around.
Dog is unhappy.
Crawling child approaches dog. Dog sees threat and defends itself.
This is why you should never leave a child alone with a dog. You need to closely supervise. By that I mean actively watching and intervening before events like this happen.
you can’t ensure you will always be able to watch the dog around you baby nor be certain you can keep them apart
This is literally the very first and most basic rule of having small children and dogs in the same household. Of course you can always watch them or keep them apart at times you can't do that.
OP, your dog does not love your baby. On the few occasions the baby 'pulled' him he did mind. The snap was not unprovoked.
I think you need to be realistic about this because only then can you see that the dog should not be made to be around the baby and then encouraging this is stressing the dog out.
The baby should never be allowed to approach the dog - food or not.
Unfortunately, despite the difficulties you are having with a baby (for which, I sympathise) the dog does need more than it's getting. Is there anyone who can help, perhaps by walking the dog for you?
Otherwise, I would rehome rather the pts (the dog will not pine away for you).
I gave up at "the dog sits close to the baby and licks him".
People who leave dogs that close to babies and then wonder why terrible things happen are really, really stupid.
Get the dog away from the baby. Now.
Firstly, the dog was not unprovoked. The baby crawled up to him. This is an unpredictable creature from your dog’s point of view and also competition for the food he knew was in the vicinity.
Secondly, your dog didn’t bite. He snapped. Believe me, if he’d wanted to bite your baby’s face, he would’ve done. Dogs that want to bite don’t miss. A snap is a warning to back off, and it’s a good thing. A dog that is punished for snapping soon learns not to do it and to just go nuclear and bite with no warning instead. Those are the truly dangerous dogs.
You don’t need to pts but you do need baby gates everywhere and to keep them apart. And also, it’s hard with a baby but why isn’t an afternoon walk in the sling or buggy with the dog part of your routine? Not when it’s really raining perhaps, but otherwise, after lunch, out you all go. Baby might sleep and dog gets exercise.
With regards to exercise and attention you can do some brain training games, give her tasty stuffed and frozen kongs. If she eats kibble scatter feed her in the garden or even around the house, I have my dog running back and forth from one end of the house to the other some meal times, he loves it! Even doing some basic training exercises with her will give her mental stimulation and tire her out.
I can appreciate this incident has scared you but there's lots you can try to make it work.
The dog isn't hungry. The dog is possessive over food and of you. Possessiveness is a major red flag that a dog will attack a child. If you can't guarantee they'll be separate at all times you need to re-home. Don't PTS, the dog can be found a good home with an experienced owner who doesn't have young children
The baby should never be allowed to approach the dog
I don’t “allow” the baby to approach the dog. There have been a few occasions since he started to crawl when he’s sneaked up to the dog when I wasn’t watching closely enough, he gently touched and the dog rolled over for a tummy rub. And a couple of times when he’s grabbed and the dog has been very good and tolerated it for a few seconds until I removed him. Usually I keep them apart and the dog is only allowed to approach when I’m holding the baby and she’s invited to interact.
have you had her properly checked out by a vet recently?
The dog had several hundred pounds worth of tests and scans a few months ago because she’s been unwell with tummy upsets and water infections. The vet diagnosed pancreatitis hence the low fat diet. But other than that she’s in good health apart from being a bit old and slow. I don’t think she’s in pain or unwell. But she is VERY hungry on the low fat dog food and was literally crying for the chicken which may have contributed to the issue.
The baby I understand but how did your DH's face get so close to hers?
He isn’t used to being around dogs. He leaned over her from above and said “hello”, and didn’t realise that she felt threatened and was shaking and putting her hackles up. Then she jumped and snapped.
why isn’t an afternoon walk in the sling or buggy with the dog part of your routine?
I’ve struggled with depression and mild agoraphobia for decades. I literally have to force myself to go out, especially in this awful weather, and when I’m so tired and sleep deprived. Sometimes I make myself go out but we go to the shopping mall and have a coffee so the dog can’t come. I need to push myself to take them both out more. Keeping them separated by gates is a good suggestion, although I’m not sure how well it will work as usually the dog wants to be glued to my side.
Lots of garden centres are dog friendly and have a café. Maybe you can find one close by and try having a wander around and a nice coffee. I often taken my dog for a mooch round the garden centre on particularly crap weather days!
he’s sneaked up to the dog when I wasn’t watching closely enough, he gently touched and the dog rolled over for a tummy rub. And a couple of times when he’s grabbed and the dog has been very good and tolerated it for a few seconds until I removed him
Then you aren't watching him well enough. He shouldn't be able to have access to the dog, especially if it can be snappy.
Poor thing - it's old and everything it's ever known has massively changed.
Are you all insane? How can you be so cruel?! This poor dog has done nothing wrong and will have to go through a traumatic death of being pts when there isn't nothing wrong with it! This is all on you OP! Do not have baby around while yous are preparing the dogs dinner, do not allow baby under any circumstances to harass dog, have an area of the house that dog can get away from baby to. Consider giving dog to someone who doesn't have children! What is with the desperation to be unnecessarily cruel?
Apologies didn't mean to put "all" I meant to say I am shocked by SOME of the replies. Also OP you should not have a dog.