Dogs and Babies


#1

I have two dogs right now, a 1-year-old 70-pound male German Shepherd/Border Collie mix and a 40-pound 2-year-old female mutt. We don't know what she is exactly, but most people say Beagle seems to be the dominant breed. As a puppy her fur color looked like she could have some German Shepherd in her somewhere but it has changed a bit as she has grown.

I have a baby due at the end of May and I have been worried sick about how to protect the baby from the dogs. I am not too worried about the 70-pound male's reaction as he has always been good around children, is more obedient, and is less excitable than the other dog. I am very worried about the female dog, however. She seems to have a strong prey drive (she's killed plenty of birds and chases after cats and rabbits) and frequently lunges and nips at my friend's 4-year-old son. She will be perfectly okay with him for a while, then suddenly she'll crouch down, run to him, try to nip, then back away. I have always managed to grab her before she could reach him, but she'll keep trying to go back. After two get-togethers where this happened, I now lock her up when kids are over. She also started doing this to my neighbor's 18-month-old when she started walking. After one instance of her lunging towards the baby, I no longer let the dog near her.

She is also terrified of the older neighborhood chilldren and will tuck her tail between her legs and run from them, ignoring all my commands to stop. She also jumps up on me and other people despite trying to train her to stop. The training worked for our other dog, but she is just too excitable. Even professional dog classes have not helped.

In light of all this, I have zero confidence that she will not try to bite or even kill the baby as soon as we give her half a chance.

As with most critically important issues, my husband wants to take a wait-and-see approach. He is okay with looking up some general tips on dogs and babies but I don't think he sees it as a real problem, particularly after seeing how well my SIL's dog gets along with her infant. I think he thinks I'm overreacting. Does anyone have any advice other than getting rid of the dog (my husband would never go for this until the baby is actually maimed :( )? My plan is to keep her in the backyard while my husband is at work and only let her back inside when he is around (he would feel guilty keeping her outside). I'd never let either dog around the baby unsupervised, of course, but my female dog has proven herself to be difficult and dangerous around children even when leashed and directly supervised.

Has anyone had experience with dogs and babies before? Or experience with husbands who can't see the danger?


#2

When my husband was a in grade school he was at a friends house. They had a dog that he had been around several times. One day, he walked through their living room, saw the dog, and said "Hi Puppy"... Which apperantly was code for... KILL. This dog is a Chow. Smallish dog. But I think known for strange tempers.

My husband was rushed to the hospital with multiple dog bites so bad they couldn't classify them properly. His skin was literally torn from his neck and shoulder, fore arms and hands. It is only because my husband had the where with all to clasp his hands over his own neck (behind himself) and lie face in the carpet his wounds were not worse.

There was a witness, it is said the dog was NOT provoked in the slightest. DH still has a few scars on his shoulders. Without being told, you wouldn't guess what caused them.

Now... You have a dog that charges children. You need to do a google search. You and the children are at risk.

This dog is nervous for whatever reason around children, and the dog has NO BIZ being around children.

Should your dog attack someone elses child, and only causes scaring damage... be prepared to LOSE your home and such to pay for it. Should the dog cause a death, be prepared to go to jail in addition to that. You KNOW that your dog is not safe around kids. Oh, and the dog will be put down. So, be prepared for that too.

I KNOW how close a relationship with a pet can be. Howver, a child outranks a pet. It would be more fair to the DOG to put her with an adult only family that won't have interaction with children.

I would already be VERY concerned, and in NO WAY would I allow my baby to be a test object to see if the dog will be ok or not. The test is too dangerous.

However, if your husband is not willing to use commonsense, perhaps you could get a 3rd party... dog expert to come an evaluate the dog and make a recommendation.

And if the dog is absolutely going to stay, I might get her to hang out around your tummy. Maybe she can form some sort of protective bond????? I have no idea if that will prevent her from attacking.

Perhaps your husbands protection over his own child will kick in when he actually meets the child. Moms have the advantage of knowing their children months in advance of delivery. Dads literally may take until they are actually holding their child to fall in such deep love (I know my DH was a bit slow on the uptake!)


#3

[quote="Charlotte1776, post:1, topic:225726"]
Does anyone have any advice other than getting rid of the dog?

[/quote]

Sorry, there is no other valid advice.


#4

I am a big believer that a dog is a commitment for its life, but that dog would have to go.

Really, I don't think I would care a whit what my dh said, no way would that dog be around my children. It would turn into "me or the dog", and personally I don't think that threatening to leave is ever the answer, I would truly leave! Also, really he wouldn't even think of getting rid of the dog until your infant had been ripped up? What is first in his life, it should be God, then family, not dog then family.

You know she is dangerous, if your child is hurt or worse it would completely be your and your dh's fault!!! I could never bear to carry that kind of guilt around. Sadly I know a couple people who have horrible scars, both physically and mentally, from dog attacks.

Honestly, I thought this was going to be another "Oh, I need to get rid of my dog because I'm pregnant" and I was going to encourage you to keep the dog. But no way would I have a dog that is known to attack young children around my house.


#5

I love this idea and I think I’m going to call a dog evaluator today. Maybe hearing “this dog is dangerous and needs to be put down” from an third-party expert will have more of an impact on him. Believe me, if I had my way this dog would be gone today. It’s not worth the risk. It’s like she can’t see children under the age of 8 as anything but prey.

Also, really he wouldn’t even think of getting rid of the dog until your infant had been ripped up?

Like I said, “wait and see” is his motto in life. Making difficult or uncomfortable decisions has never been his strong suit, even if the right choice is blindingly clear to others. I love him, but it’s frequently very frustrating. My mom and one of our friends actually recomended he go to therapy to deal with his issues related to his passive personality, and they only know half the story of how deep it goes. He said he’d go someday, but this dog needs to be dealt with now.


#6

A family member had a dog who was good with children. However, when their baby was born the dog's behaviour changed. he became obviously jealous of the baby and was acting in strange ways. They immeaditely felt they couldn't trust the dog to be with the baby for even a second, and decided to find him a new home. I was very sad to see this happen because I love animals and hate to see them kicked out of their home. But it was the right thing to do. The dog is doing well and is with people who love him and take good care of him. You could do the same.

I can't believe your husband wants to wait and see. Wait for what? An injury? This is very unreasonable given the history of the dog's behavious with children. I'd put my foot down and have a very serious conversation about prioroties and safety.


#7

Our beloved Golden nipped the cheek of a four-year old neighbor who had backed her into a corner. Child's father did not sue, just wanted to know if she had her shots.

Friend's Scottish deer hound unexpectedly bit a child who was visiting. It had never showed aggression before. Friend put dog down.

Little dog showed up to court our Golden who was inside house. Our son came home from school. Little dog was hiding in the bushes and apparently wanting to make his claim on the Golden, charged our 5 yr. old and bit him on the hand. Owners put dog down.

Took in a German shephard trained on hand signals. Dog was very bright. However, from the getgo, I had misgivings with this dog being around kids. Husband wanted to give him a trial period. Immediately, dog wanted to protect husband from me. Then, when alone with me, wanted to protect me from the kids. And you could feel the tension. Lasted two days. Took dog back to owner. Later found out dog had killed the neighbor's cocker spaniel. Why would they give a family with kids this dog? Who knows.

We now have a bichon who is not use to kids. We don't let kids come near her unless we are holding her. I'm amazed at how many people let their children approach a strange dog and how many walk a dog on too long a lead giving them no control over the animal.

Another friend has a Jack russel terrier which they always felt was unpredictable. Dog circled their infant when they brought him home from the hospital. It has attacked their other dog 25 times. They still have it and have gotten results by being very alpha with the dog and by keeping it TOTALLY away from the baby.

Bottom line, the child comes first. Find the dog a good home while you have the time before baby arrives.


#8

We have had dogs for most of our lives with the kids. The first dog was a wonderful, but over protective mutt rescued from a farm in the UK.

Everything was good with our 6 month and 17 month old kids until one day another child got between them and the dog. He snapped at the child, did not bite, thank God.

We sent him to a rescue kennel the next day. Could not take a risk again.

We also had 3 cocker spaniels over a period of 20 plus years, never a problem with any of them, with our kids or others. We would not let them "mouth" or lick any human on the face, and they put up with all the kids playing with them over the years without a problem. They also hung out with our cats. One was poisoned by a neighbor (along with other dogs in the area), the others died of old age at around 12-13 years old. Wonderful pets.

Our last dog was inherited from my son, a Neopolitan mastiff. A fantastic dog, but very badly trained by my son, so we did a lot of rehab with the dog. She was 85 lbs at one year old, but talk about muscle, this dog had a 2,000lbs pressure bite and a head almost as big as a human.

We managed to get her under control, but my wife could not hold her if she decided to pull, we brought her out into the community, stopped her jumping and humping, which my son encouraged and generally were making good progress.

One Sunday morning we were having a breakfast after Chuch at a local farmhouse in NH and the dog was by our feet. My wife had the leash as I had just refilled the coffee and we were having a good time. Next thing a elderly couple with their family area heading the their cars and the dog decides to go after the old man. Before I could stop the dog, he jumps on the man, scratches his arm and draws blood.

Now you could argue this was just a jumping up that accidently drew blood, because if this dog ever actually attacked someone, the outcome would be horriffic. She was not even aware of what she had done, but it was in public and we knew with our grandson about to be born, we had to do something. I talked to the local vet that afternoon, and they said you must have her put down.

I took the dog to the vet the following day and I am welling up here just writing about this. A beautiful animal was put down because she was badly trained by my son.

Bottom line with dogs is you have to very carefully select and condition them to how you want them to be around kids. Some of that is training, and some is breeding. I don't know where your dogs are in this situation, but don't risk your kid. Rather get a good home for the dogs before something bad happens. As you can see in my own case, I am not a bad dog owner, having had some success, but we can't take risk with kids. Our own or anyone elses.

Hope this helps you with your decision.


#9

[quote="Charlotte1776, post:1, topic:225726"]

In light of all this, I have zero confidence that she will not try to bite or even kill the baby as soon as we give her half a chance.

[/quote]

I guess I missed you comment here. You don't ever want to come back and re-read your prediction in remorse or regret. I think you have your decision here about the situation. Read my previous response to show what could have gone wrong in our own experiences.


#10

I just sent an email to a local dog behavior expert who specialises in fear and aggression. Hopefully she can convince my husband that this is serious. I just talked to my husband a few minutes ago and he still doesn't think biting kids is any more than just playing.


#11

I am sorry, the dog has to go, and the decision should have been made the first time she posed a threat to a child. Now that you know of the past behavior, you have become legally liable if she ever does bite someone. You might prefer to get legal advice on this in your state but that is what I have been told. She seems to have behavior problems probably from past abuse and mishandling, but if no change has come through training, it is not likely to now, so she should be living in a situation where she cannot come in contact with children. What does your vet say?

Even if the work with the behavioral specialist helps dogs in this treatment usually need a lot of firm consistent attention, something you may not be able to do with a new baby around.


#12

[quote="Charlotte1776, post:10, topic:225726"]
I just talked to my husband a few minutes ago and he still doesn't think biting kids is any more than just playing.

[/quote]

Of course it's playing. Dogs play that way with other dogs. They jump, and bite and tumble. The problem is that children (and adults) can get seriously hurt during such 'playfulness'. Maybe he doesn't understand that your baby could get hurt and even die as a consequence?


#13

The statistics are pretty amazing. 1000 plus emergency room visits a day!

dogbitelaw.com/PAGES/statistics.html


#14

Just fyi, don't count on the dog "expert" to advise you or anybody to re-home the dog. Most of them won't.

I had a German Shepherd that would absolutely go in NUT-mode around strangers...barking, lunging, growling. It was SCARY. He was fine around his family, but he did not like strangers. We sought out any help we could find for help/advice. We took him to training classes, we had training experts come to our house, I called breeders for advice....Not ONE of those "experts" ever suggested that the dog was too dangerous for us to keep. One day he finally slipped out the front door and got a hold of my neighbor and tore her up pretty good. Would you believe, even after THAT, I got flamed with hot coals on a GSD message board for posting that the dog had to go? Not kidding. So don't expect any "expert" to talk your DH into anything. Chances are they'll encourage you to work with the dog and give your husband the impression that the dog can be trained.

The fact is that your instincts are telling you that this dog will hurt your baby and it is up to YOU to put your foot down. I agree with the other poster, this is a situation that warrants "it's me or the dog".


#15

We got our dog, a 45 pound beagle, before we had our children, she was our first baby:rolleyes: And she has been wonderful with our kids. They have climbed on her, pulled her and she just lays there. When she's had enough she gets up and walks away. The only thing she has ever done is lick them! But, if she EVER, nipped at any of them or anyone elses kids..she would be gone!

Friends of ours had a dog that they adopted. I guess it came from a bad home, was abused. It would snarl while you pet it:eek: NO! Not a good thing! DH and I stayed far away from her. Our friends said she would never hurt anyone...until she tried to bite their son..they put her down the next day!

I'm not saying you have to have her put to sleep, but maybe give her to a family that doesn't have kids. It's not worth the risk!


#16

[quote="masondoggy, post:14, topic:225726"]
So don't expect any "expert" to talk your DH into anything. Chances are they'll encourage you to work with the dog and give your husband the impression that the dog can be trained.

[/quote]

Well great. I had to sort through a bunch whose websites flat out said they try to keep aggresive dogs in homes no matter what to find this this one, and it sounded like she would be up for advising us to put her down or give her away if she thought she was a therat but I guess trainers like that are hard to find. If the email comes back saying anything other than "this dog is dangerous" I'll keep looking.

It sounds so simple to just say "just get rid of the dog," but with my husband it isn't. He won't take action on anything until the situation gets so bad he's forced to. He doesn't listen to me because he thinks I jump to conclusions and want to take action too quickly. Having an outside person (and ideally, multiple people because it's easy to dismiss just one) tell him that the dog is dangerous is the only way I can get rid of the dog without him hating me for years. I'm sure he would be furious if he knew I was even contemplating getting rid of her. Right now he just knows I'm concerned she'll hurt the baby and want to see what professionals say.

ETA: just got an email back. She said "I'm sorry to hear about the aggression issues with your dog. I would be happy to assess the situation and put the facts on the table so you and your husband can come to an informed decision." Hopefully that means she's reasonable about what an aggresive dog is capable of and won't pressure us to keep a dog that's dangerous.


#17

[quote="Charlotte1776, post:16, topic:225726"]
Well great. I had to sort through a bunch whose websites flat out said they try to keep aggresive dogs in homes no matter what to find this this one, and it sounded like she would be up for advising us to put her down or give her away if she thought she was a therat but I guess trainers like that are hard to find. If the email comes back saying anything other than "this dog is dangerous" I'll keep looking.

It sounds so simple to just say "just get rid of the dog," but with my husband it isn't. He won't take action on anything until the situation gets so bad he's forced to. He doesn't listen to me because he thinks I jump to conclusions and want to take action too quickly. Having an outside person (and ideally, multiple people because it's easy to dismiss just one) tell him that the dog is dangerous is the only way I can get rid of the dog without him hating me for years. I'm sure he would be furious if he knew I was even contemplating getting rid of her. Right now he just knows I'm concerned she'll hurt the baby and want to see what professionals say.

ETA: just got an email back. She said "I'm sorry to hear about the aggression issues with your dog. I would be happy to assess the situation and put the facts on the table so you and your husband can come to an informed decision." Hopefully that means she's reasonable about what an aggresive dog is capable of and won't pressure us to keep a dog that's dangerous.

[/quote]

Try having a conversation with her over the phone first to get an idea as to what she's open to. I think you need to make it clear to her what you are trying to do and make sure she's going to cooperate. Try also talking to your vet. I think vets may have a little bit more common sense about this stuff, not always. There are just to many "animal rights activist" types who seem to only care about the dog and not give a hoot about the needs of the humans in the picture. They're militant attitude is "you take on the responsibility of the pet, you care for it for life no matter what". No regard for situations like this at all. To them, the pet always comes first over the human.

ETA he'll be forced to take action if he comes home one day and you're gone until the dog is removed from the home. I know that sounds extreme, but this is an extreme situation. You're baby has a RIGHT to live in a safe home. Period.


#18

Your dog sounds like she had been abused by older children, or had a bad experience with kids as a puppy, or maybe is just excessively timid and frightened by the noises and activity level they are capable of. Some dogs, no matter how well trained, will not be able to overcome their fears.

I would not advise banishing her to the yard, even just for daytime hours - if she has always been indoors with the family, and especially if she has a strong attachment to you, this would increase her anxiety and make her feel punished. It could lead to worse behavior or additional negative ones (constant barking, digging, chewing, in addition to mental anguish). And what happens when the weather's really awful?

If you think you would be able to manage the over-excitedness, you could ask the trainer about using a basket muzzle on her. These are not as restrictive as regular muzzles, allowing the dog to pant and drink.

However, as I can't actually see what her behavior is, and as the trainer probably won't be able to see her interaction with young children, I would suggest trying to rehome her asap. If you are not comfortable with her, she will sense that, and that situation is not fair to anyone :(.

Good luck!


#19

I just read a little of your post until i got to the part about prey drive. Prey drive is very different than the drive that makes dogs attack each other and humans. Don't decide on that alone. I kept hunting dogs with about the highest level prey drive that you can get. But all were great with my very young kids, so don't worry if he's killing birds. High fight/guard drive is what you have to worry about and that usually doesn't come in the same dog as prey drive. If there are other issues and the dog is too dominant than maybe there would be a problem. If it were mine and she didn't have manners i'd make her work for every bit of food until she because submissive. If that didn't work i would get rid of her.

sorry i just read the next bit about where it went for a 4 year old. I'd say she's got to go bye bye. The only way that would work is if you were way way way tougher with that dog and it had full respect for you. Right now it has very little. You probably wouldn't be happy being as tough with that dog as you would need to be so i would say get rid of it even though i know that way easier said than done.


#20

You know,

If you end up with a 3rd party "expert" that just seems to tell you over and over again that you can fix this dog....and therefore risk your child, Ask them to PUT IT IN WRITING... that they are 100% convinced there is NO WAY this dog will injur or kill a child.

I'd be really suprised to see them do that... if they are, keep the dog, and then oopps one day she gets away from you and gets hit by a car... You can really take her to the pound where they can deal with her. A lie? Yes... worth it? Probably!


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