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How to talk with SIL about her dog and my baby?(5 Posts)
Dog owners - help!
My SIL has a giant, boisterous, energetic neapolitan mastiff. He's still almost a puppy, so he may get less boisterous, but nevertheless is a massive, powerful and to me at least, rather scary dog. Though he is very sweet natured and I have not seen him behave aggressively.
He is absolutely beloved to my SIL and brings her a lot of happiness. I fear that she doesn't have a lot of perspective when it comes to him.
I have a little baby who will shortly become mobile. Baby and dog are already interested in one another. The dog is quite happy to jump up at an adult holding the baby. The dog has managed to lick the baby's face.
I'm concerned that if I can't stop the dog licking the baby's face, then I can't stop the dog from eating the baby's face / killing the baby, to be blunt. In a fight between me (or anyone really) and the dog, this dog would win. This isn't a judgment of the dog's character, he appears to be a big softie but I just can't be comfortable about this.
I'm also worried that as he is so boisterous, even accidentally he might nip my baby, which would hurt my baby (!) and result in the dog being put down and break my SIL's heart.
I was hoping that my in laws would step in and set up some ground rules to keep dog from baby at their house (which is almost the only place I see SIL), but they haven't.
How do I have this conversation with my SIL? I don't want to criticise her or her dog. I'm not proud, I'm happy to play the worry wort if that's what I've got to do. I could go through my parents in law? I could ask my husband to deal with it - he would, but he's blunter than I am. SIL has had a difficult time recently and her dog seems to have really made a difference, he's so important to her. I am v fond of her and don't want to upset her but have to keep baby safe.
Any tips for managing this difficult conversation?
Maybe you can discuss how the two of them must both be taught how to behave with the other. Clearly any mobile child will need constant supervision (irrespective of the dog) and you'd like to discuss ideas ahead of time. Decide what you want from the conversation in advance. If it's to keep them separate for a period of time, or anything else, be clear in your own mind what you're happy with. All children should learn to be polite around animals (no grabbing tails etc) and all dogs need a safe space to retire to when they want a break, and need the humans around them to understand signs that the dog is uncomfortable. Personally I wouldn't leave a child alone or vaguely supervised with a dog until they're years older, and both are more predictable. In the meantime, you can discuss opinions with the wider family and make sure you're all aware of and comfortable with the situation.
Is there any way you can keep the two separate unless the dog is restricted by a lead?
Baby gates are good (unless the dog can open or jump them) - it means the dog can still see what's going on but they can't get overexcited and do something silly either.
It's not an easy conversation to have but any decent dog owner should understand your concerns and help modify the dogs behaviour accordingly.
Can you turn the conversation around. Now that my "baby" is getting mobile I do not want him to upset and annoy your dog so can they be kept separate until my baby learns how to behave around dogs (That should give you years!)
But tbh I would just say what you have said in your original post - it is harder for baby and dog to get to know each other when they are visitors.
If your DH is blunter then get him to do it... because in all honesty it’s not a particularly delicate conversation...
Baby is about to be mobile, I don’t want him harassing the poor dog or the dog accidentally knocking him over or standing on him... what’s the best way to keep them apart? Is really all that’s needed.