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Dangerous dog? Keeping baby and toddler safe

(15 Posts)
Happilyacceptingcookies Wed 26-Dec-18 08:03:08

Heading to in laws tomorrow. Last month MIL told me that their border terrier jumped at her and bit her on her lip, she said she was telling it to get down from the sofa.

I have a toddler and a newborn. Now feeling very uncomfortable, especially as toddler loves stroking both their dogs. Especially uncomfortable as FIL never mentioned the bite before we went last time, these things should never be a secret surely?

Any advice on how to keep the little ones safe is much appreciated, I know nothing about dogs and you are the experts. I am usually able to be in the same room as toddler but will have to feed newborn upstairs. I could take toddler with me? I've been talking to her about it and she said she won't stroke it again. I usually insist that toddler isn't running around with dogs and she is only down if they are up on the sofa. I could keep her on the sofa with me while dogs run around? DH refuses to address his parents about it.

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Aquilla Wed 26-Dec-18 08:06:46

Had this for years, in laws' cranky, elderly dogs hovering menacingly around my small children. This in a household where there's no such thing as 'put the dog out' (even into another room). Good luck, OP!

BikeRunSki Wed 26-Dec-18 08:09:29

Could you and your DH each “mark” a child. Obvs, you’ll have the baby, can your DH undertake to constantly keep an eye on the toddler.

Strict rules about the toddler not striking/petting the dogs without a grown up, but equally a commitment from your DH they he will help the tiddkerbeut this, sontgey don’t try themselves.,

Happilyacceptingcookies Wed 26-Dec-18 08:19:40

Aquilla you speak from experience. In extreme situations the dogs are kept in the kitchen but they think that's cruel as it not as warm as the living room hmm

bikerunski I like the idea of marking. I will ask DH to commit but he doesn't want to offend them. How that became more important than his children's safety I'm not sure. When DH and I have been out toddlers sight in the past, ended up with SIL carrying toddler upstairs to go and look for the dogs. So you're right, it definitely has to be one of us watching her.

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WasWildatHeart Wed 26-Dec-18 09:15:11

Border terriers are usually great with people (mine is brilliant) but I’ve heard they can do a reactive bite when stressed. Maybe your MIL woke got while getting him off the sofa or was ‘threatening’ to him. No excuse for biting but maybe something to watch for. Especially watch in stress situations- like all getting ready to go out for a walk when dog is likely to be more hyper.
Also I’d talk about the fact straight away- as dog has bitten can everyone be cautious and any signs at all then dog has to be put away.

Madmarchpear Wed 26-Dec-18 09:26:25

I've had years of pussy footing around my dad's foul jack russell. But as soon as dd's were born I made it clear that they will never be in the same room as it. I originally made out it was my manic new mum hormones but we have managed to keep them apart for 5+ years. I find people's blindness to the threat their animals pose to children infuriating.

Happilyacceptingcookies Wed 26-Dec-18 09:31:54

waswildatheart that's really helpful to know about stress situations. Sounds ridiculous but I need to plan how we all enter the house when we first get there as that is when the dogs jump at us. DH is always excited to get DCs in the house to see PILs or PILs come out to the car and take them in, and I end up inevitably unloading the car and last in, unable to see the DCs. But this is when the dogs really bark and run.

madmarchpear well done on standing your ground. I might try the distressed with newborn card and act extra twitchy. It is so infuriating that children aren't prioritised in these situations.

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Booboostwo Wed 26-Dec-18 10:06:15

The dog was probably resource guarding the sofa and this is why it bit your MIL. This is a serious problem and your MIL should get professional advice from a behaviourist before things escalate even further.

I would only visit your ILs if the dogs are reliably locked away in another room for the entire visit.

P.S. I am not a dog hater. I currently have 3 dogs, compete in obedience and agility and volunteer at my local dog training club.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Wed 26-Dec-18 10:43:08

It sounds like this dog has been in the home for years without issue and has now had one incident?

What's led up to the sofa incident isn't entirely clear to any of us (and probably not even your PIL, who may not have picked up on some of the subtle stress signals dogs give off). However, as this is a change in behaviour the dog should be seen by a vet to check for pain, which is a common cause of such issues - dogs and humans alike are often made grumpy by pain.

Kids and dogs will need to be kept separate to some degree. I certainly wouldn't allow the toddler to initiate contact with the dog.

You might like to do some quick research on subtle signs of stress in dogs (canine ladder of aggression is a good primer) so you can recognise them for yourself being aware that it all needs to be taken in context - a dog licking lips around food is probably licking lips because of the food not stress, for instance!

GobblersKnob Wed 26-Dec-18 12:04:24

I understand your worry, and would advise you to be vigilant, but then you always should be with dogs and children. It isn't unusual for dogs to growl and even bite when forced to move from comfy positions, I imagine if someone pushed you out of bed when asleep you wouldn't be particularly pleasant. If the dog had been called off the sofa with a bit of cheese/ham/turkey it would have moved perfectly willingly. The idea that dogs should do things because we tell them to is Disneyfied bollocks, and hugely sullies lots of people's relationships with their dogs.

During the visit do not allow your toddler to approach the dog, (children should never be allowed to initiate interaction with any dog anyway), if the dog has initiated the greeting all should be fine provided your child is gentle, giving treats would be a good idea. Obviously the dog and child should be separated if they cannot be totally supervised.

Happilyacceptingcookies Wed 26-Dec-18 12:16:47

Booboostwo Resource guarding is something I'm going to look up, thanks. Certainly wouldn't ever call you a dog hater!

AvocadosBeforeMortgages I will google canine ladder of aggression to learn about the cues. Thank you! And yes it's the first incident we have been told about, makes me nervous that MIL was reluctant to tell me and was very vague about how it happened. They know I have always been hesitant around dogs, I'm not a natural around animals, but they've always taken the attitude that it's just me with a problem and not that their dogs might bite.

gobblersknob I really didn't know about the initiating contact thing, totally makes sense. And since you and PP have been so clear about it I'm going to take lots of books and toys to keep toddler busy so she doesn't go looking for the dogs for entertainment. PILs are sitting in the lounge for 48 hours talking kind of people, so it gets boring and that's why they use the dogs to entertain the toddler. I need to take responsibility now and make sure she's busy!

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whateveryousay Wed 26-Dec-18 17:57:31

One of my dogs can be fairly reactive, and although he’s never hurt anyone, there is no way I’d take a risk. For his sake.
I don’t understand why your in-laws wouldn’t either keep the dog in a separate room, or send him to daycare etc while you visit.
I love my dog so much that there’s no way I’d put his life at risk by allowing an opportunity to hurt someone.
Maybe approach it from this angle with your in-laws?

Happilyacceptingcookies Thu 27-Dec-18 00:01:05

whateveryousay thank you, it's such a valid angle to take as well. They have only ever put the dogs in daycare once, for our wedding day, and we never heard the end of it. The dogs are usually on the sofas or on their bed, never in another room. Thanks for your advice though, gives me a me something to say that sounds supportive of the dogs rather than negative. And I've realised I'm not negative towards the dogs, it's my duty as a parent to put my children's safety first even when they want to put the dogs first.

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whateveryousay Thu 27-Dec-18 14:24:36

Absolutely you must put your kids first.
Ironically, I see me putting my dog in a crate behind a locked door as putting him first when my kids friends are visiting. It is so not worth the risk!

Happilyacceptingcookies Mon 07-Jan-19 14:51:05

Just wanted to thank all of you for your advice. As an update, the visit did not go well. Thankfully the dogs behaved. But the family are determined to make my DCs love the dogs, including getting DD to train the dogs and give them commands when I was out of the room. So in future, and this is agreed with DH who feels equally uncomfortable, I will take DD out of the room when I leave the room as I can't trust any of them. I think it's personal as well as they know my feelings about children and dogs and they are keen to prove a point to me.

Anyway thank you for giving me the encouragement and education to know I'm not being ridiculous and not imagining potential problems. My DCs come before the in laws feelings on this one!

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