Old dog, new baby

(24 Posts)
LauraLooDerby Thu 19-Dec-19 22:59:34

Hi all

I have a dilemma! I have just had a baby, my first, she is five days old.

I also have a dog - a Jack Russell - who is 11 years old. He's generally ok, sometimes a bit grumpy and snappy but more warning snappy than actually vicious. He's a wimp, really.

But since we've brought our daughter home he has been awful - I'm actually scared he's going to manage to get her and shake her.

He gets very distressed when she's crying or making noise of any sort (including suckling) which we can deal with - we remove him from the situation to a calm space and give him a treat (trying positive associations).

But more than that - if my partner or I are holding her, he tries to get to her and I'm not sure whether it's to lick her because she smells of milk and baby and poo, or to attack her because he's jealous - even though we make sure that when one of us is holding the baby, the other is giving the dog fuss.

I don't want to hate the dog - I love the dog - but I am scared. I'm sure this is evident to both dog and baby.

Any suggestions, or methods that have worked? Thanks

OP’s posts: |
Teasville Thu 19-Dec-19 23:04:35

Probably not helpful, but my sister had to rehome her jack Russell when their son was a baby because he (the dog) became similarly aggressive (towards them rather than the baby). Something to do with the baby upsetting the dog's position in 'the pack'. They tried all sorts, but ultimately felt he'd be happier in a home without children.

Wolfiefan Thu 19-Dec-19 23:07:04

You need to separate him from the baby. Room divider?
If he was “snappy” before then a screaming baby isn’t going to improve his behaviour. And you’re unlucky to get an aging and snappy terrier
Vet check and behaviourist?

Wolfiefan Thu 19-Dec-19 23:07:25

You’ll be lucky to get one rehomed that should have said.

LauraLooDerby Thu 19-Dec-19 23:10:56

Oh goodness.... I honestly don't think we could do that. My partner has had the dog since he was born (the dog, not my partner!!) and he regularly says that the dog is number one and I am number two (now relegated to number three!) - I think he's joking 😊 but that dog is honestly his life.

What gets me is when the dog is looking at the baby/trying to approach, his tail is wagging. I'm pretty sure that if he was going to be actually vicious he wouldn't be wagging his tail? Or maybe that's a sign of nervousness like his yawning...?! Maybe he's feeding off my nervousness?

OP’s posts: |
LauraLooDerby Thu 19-Dec-19 23:14:14

@Wolfiefan I did think a behaviourist might be a good idea, thank you. And room dividers yes - will investigate.

When I say snappy - my nieces come round on a regular basis (aged 9 & 6) and he is fine with them. He doesn't snap at humans (adult or child) really, if anything it's a swift head turn to warn you but no teeth are bared or growling etc. He will snap at other dogs (in a warning capacity again) - I have never seen him actually go for anyone or anything. I'm just scared of him now, and I don't want to be.

OP’s posts: |
RoLaren Thu 19-Dec-19 23:19:24

You should be scared of him and what he could do. Never, ever let him near your baby. If PTS or rehoming aren't options then you are risking your baby's life. There may always be a moment, but that's all it can take. Sorry to sound catastrophic but it's the reality.


Wolfiefan Thu 19-Dec-19 23:20:05

If he’s warning you then he’s not happy. You need help to identify what sets him off so you can avoid it.
But never leave him unattended with the baby. (How easy that’ll be I don’t know but it’s essential.)

Fortheloveofscience Thu 19-Dec-19 23:22:59

What gets me is when the dog is looking at the baby/trying to approach, his tail is wagging.

Your instinct that this might be like the yawning thing is right, OP. Tail wagging is a sign of arousal, not just happiness. I’d get a behaviourist in asap to maximize the chances of the dog being able to cope because this behaviour sounds quite extreme. In the meantime could you go to the vets and investigate anti-anxiety meds?

RoLaren Thu 19-Dec-19 23:25:55


The Jack Russell Trust says they're not recommended for families with under 8s. Poor impulse control and jealousy. The fact you're worried means you know this, but don't want to upset your partner. Tough. Your vulnerable baby is number one now.

Grandmi Thu 19-Dec-19 23:35:11

We are having exactly the same problem with our JRT . Baby has been home for 7 days now and we are being extremely cautious. All she wants to do is sniff,smell and lick!! She has not shown any signs of aggression but we are not taking any chances. She definitely gets distressed when baby cries, ,squeaks etc . It has made bringing baby home extra tiring. We are trying to include her and not keep yelling at her and pushing her away...she is definitely slowly calming down and we are ensuring she gets long walks. Am sure that eventually they will be the best of friends. Just be extra vigilant and give your doggie lots of attention. Good luck.X

Grandmi Thu 19-Dec-19 23:37:59

We use a stair gate to keep doggie out of kitchen/ conservatory so she can see us if we have had to shut her out to calm down.

Bufferingkisses Thu 19-Dec-19 23:42:06

OP please please don't leap to conclusions here. No one here knows the dog or has seem his behaviour. "If you keep the dog you're risking your baby's life" type shite is crappy advice ffs. You sound protective - as any new mum should be. The dog is old and set in his ways - as most terriers are. That doesn't spell disaster though, get a behaviourist in, a good, accredited one with reviews and recommendations. Make sure your partner is fully on board with following the advice and take it step by step. Basic safety rules, dog never alone with baby etc until you know what you are dealing with. Good luck flowers

StylishMummy Thu 19-Dec-19 23:42:08

I'd PTS. A snappy dog + baby makes me feel queasy

8paws8legs Thu 19-Dec-19 23:43:29

@rolaren pts and rehome are not her only options, I'm sure she knows not to leave them alone too.
OP perhaps try letting him sniff the babies clothing, bibs, any creams/products you may be using, if your going to work things out you need to let him investigate especially as in a few weeks presumably your husband will be going back to work so you will have both the dog and baby on your own.
It may take time but dogs do learn even at 11, it's a huge shock and change in pack dynamics for your dog, so please don't rush into a decision you might regret, your partner agreed when he got the dog to provide a loving home for as long as possible so get a trainer in now before he goes back to work.

KilljoysDutch Fri 20-Dec-19 00:00:01

PTS because the dog snaps at other dogs. FFS no wonder there are so many dogs in need of rehoming.

OP there are some great articles online with regards on how to introduce your dog to your baby, don't catastrophize the situation just yet. I brought a baby home to a 11 year old rescue JRT and he's never been bothered by him even though he is an old grump now at 17 he's never snapped or bitched the kids out even though he does it to the adults in the house. I don't need to PTS because I know the dog and his behaviours.

KilljoysDutch Fri 20-Dec-19 00:01:54

Also going to take this opportunity to point out yet again that pack theory has been debunked by experts and is absolute bullshit. Dog is more than likely just curious and excited by this new creature in his home.


These even have an interactive game teaching children how to interact with dogs. You're doing everything right so far.

chloxox08 Fri 20-Dec-19 00:20:23

Please try not to make any decisions too soon - get room dividers, see how things go (just keep a close eye obviously you'd do that anyway) the dog might settle down. If he's still aggressive and you've tried your absolute best then look at rehoming

olliecollie Fri 20-Dec-19 07:55:00

Congratulations on your new baby.
When my first grandchild was born my jack Russel was so stressed with the baby and the sounds she made, I really thought he wanted to attack her as he kept trying to get near her.
On the advice of our vet we put a muzzle and a short lead on him and let him sniff her. From that day on they became best of friends. We now think the crying sounded like a cat and as soon as he realised it wasn't he was fine.
Another 7 grandchildren have been born since and he has been absolutely fine.
He will be 16 in Feb and really loves all the children now.

tabulahrasa Fri 20-Dec-19 08:51:10

You seem to not be able to read the dog... so get someone in who can and go from there.

LauraLooDerby Sat 21-Dec-19 09:40:06

Thanks all, and thanks to the replies that aren't so doom and gloom (although I do appreciate the gravity of the situation if the behaviour doesn't change!)

He has calmed down slightly the past couple of days - he still becomes agitated when she cries but not quite as bad. He is perfectly happy to lie at mine or my partners feet/by our legs when we are holding the baby (with no grumbling, watching, whining etc). And he is currently curled up snoring on the sofa with the baby in the Moses basket in the room.

I would never leave them alone, not even for a second smile

@Grandmi interesting that you are experiencing the same! We are also taking him on long walks and giving him extra fuss which is think is helping with him realising he's not being left out.

@8paws8legs argh you make an excellent point about DP going back to work.... it's not even that, he's actually got to go on a 10 day work trip to Australia on 2nd Jan! So I definitely need to work this out before then. Otherwise dog will have to go to my mums which again I'm not sure is the right action as that is him REALLY being 'pushed out' (although he does stay there pretty frequently).

Everybody else - thanks so much for your feedback and for sharing experiences. I'm feeling more confident now and I'm sure we can make sure they're friends!

OP’s posts: |
MKCH Sat 11-Jan-20 22:32:59

I know this thread died a bit but I wanted to share this photo in case anyone is interested (I know this is more interesting for me than anyone else!) but baby is four weeks today and this is her with the dog smile (I was obviously right there and my sister was right next to the dog too giving him fuss - would never leave them like this!!)
We are calm and happy!

SlB09 Sat 11-Jan-20 22:45:32

My old spaniel still howls when my child cries 3 years later! She was very unsure at first, we did the very same as you and still are very vigilant as pp have said you really just never know. But my child enjoys throwing balls for the dog and the dog loves to chase them, they both dig in the garden together - I fill in the holes!! The dog will sit if asked by my child. She has slowly mellowed and realised my child is part of the family. Good luck, remain vigilant but enjoy their blossoming relationship.

Ginger1982 Sat 11-Jan-20 23:01:11

OP, we had a 3 year old JRT when DS was born. He was always a bit highly strung but it just got worse once DS started walking. He seemed constantly stressed and his aggression increased massively. He started attacking DH and I for no reason and after trying numerous behaviourists and vet treatment, we had him put to sleep. I was terrified that something would happen and I'm pretty sure it would have by now.

I still feel massively guilty about it but the weight that lifted from my shoulders was immense. I'm not saying you need to take as drastic action as we did but you can't live your life stressing about dog and baby somehow ending up in a situation where something could happen.

Hope things improve thanks

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