Rescue Dog nipped baby - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 02-18-2011, 06:58 AM - Thread Starter
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I am certain that this is mostly my fault. I have a really big heart for animals, but I don't know what to do when a problem shows up.We have a (they think) 2 year old basset hound rescue. He was a sire in a terrible puppy farm that got broken up. He was obviously abused and had spent most of his life in a cage (his back legs are deformed but have gotten much better since taking him) I also have an 8 month old baby who recently learned to crawl. A couple of days ago, the dog started to growl at the baby. I started holding the baby in my lap and feeding the dog lots of treats, to get him used to the baby being near. Tonight, he nipped the air when my DS grabbed his bone (I tried to get there as fast as I could as soon as I could see the baby had the dog's bone) and then as  DS was trying to crawl past him to get into the kitchen Doozer (the dog) nipped him in the head. It was totally a warning. My DS as not hurt and there isn't a mark. But I am really frightened. Of course I went onto google to figure out what I was doing wrong, and all I got were stories of dogs who killed babies.  We have a small flat. And we keep one section of it for the dog and try and keep the baby away from that area, but the dog wasn't there when he nipped. He was in the main area. We NEVER leave the baby and dog alone together, but they cross paths often because of the tight quarters. I booked the rescue's trainer to come and assess the situation. I wasn't convinced by her advice though. If I'm really honest, I haven't had much time to train him, and I'm sure I screwed things up further by yelling at the dog tonight. In general, he is a well-behaved dog, that didn't seem like he needed much training. But I am scared. I've had a crazy amount of terrible experiences with dogs in the last while and I can't imagine my DS getting attacked. Should I just ask the rescue to rehome him? Am I a terrible person? I feel like a failure.




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#2 of 9 Old 02-18-2011, 07:50 AM
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Crawling is the hardest and worse stage for babies and dogs.  It is very confusing to the dog.  Keep separate, keep up the positive associations.  


Why did you not trust the trainers advice?  If you didnt like that one, I would highly suggest trying a new one.

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#3 of 9 Old 02-18-2011, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by prone_to_wander View Post

 If I'm really honest, I haven't had much time to train him... 


Your dog has problems, and you must find the time to address those problems. IF you don't have the time, it's probably not a good idea for you to have this dog. I think you had the best intentions, and he probably will make a great companion to someone else. However, having a small child and a dog that bites is a bad combination. You either need to find the time to do some serious training OR find a better place for him.


Best of luck! 

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#4 of 9 Old 02-18-2011, 04:48 PM
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My initial thought is that you should probably re-home this dog to someone without small children. greensad.gif Because of his abusive past it is quite possible that he may never get used to your baby, and that is something you will always have to worry about. Socialization of dogs ( when they are puppies) with small children is so important.
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#5 of 9 Old 02-18-2011, 10:29 PM - Thread Starter
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We've separated our house to dog house and baby house and we'll keep them completely away from each other. He is the most laid-back dog I've ever seen, which is why I've been lax. But I understand my responsibility to train him. We have a live-in helper (nanny) who enjoys being with the dog, but doesn't know much about training him. I've taken over dog duties and once I get him on the right track, I'll train everyone else how to train the dog.

I'm grateful that we got a warning, instead of something more serious. I'm taking the warning very seriously and I'll do everything I can, but if it doesn't work out, I'll call the rescue agency and ask them to re-home him.
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#6 of 9 Old 02-20-2011, 02:50 PM
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We were in a vary similar situation as you OP so I can totally sympathize. Our sweet old English Mastiff nipped at our toddler a few times and we ended up giving her to my mom. It's worked out really well! We still get to see her, but we don't have to live in fear all day. I can't tell you how hard it was to divide up our tiny home to keep those two separate. Our dog ended up getting really depressed, because she was isolated from the family. It was a mess. Our family is much happier with the new living situation. That being said, you may be able to work with the dog. Have you read Cesar Milan's books?

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#7 of 9 Old 02-23-2011, 03:16 PM
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I wouldn't personally feel comfortable with a dog like that with a young baby.  I think try some training, but if that doesn't help, I would find another family.  

Kids. I got two of 'em.
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#8 of 9 Old 02-23-2011, 03:47 PM
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OP, thanks for wanting to do the right thing for all the members of your family, including Doozer. :) I rarely pop into this forum because it raises my blood pressure sometimes, and I have a toddler for that. But, this post caught my eye and I hope you can find a solution that will help you keep Doozer in your home. A little background, I have been very involved in a multi-state breed rescue for about eight years and have fostered literally hundreds of dogs from all different backgrounds. Our rescue pulls no punches--if a dog is dangerous, we put him/her down. There are too many good tempered dogs that need our help to spend our time and resources on rehabbing dangerous dogs. We do a large portion of our adoptions to families with small children and first-time dog owning families/individuals.


Okay, street cred finished. What you need is a behaviorist, not a trainer. I mean, the trainer might help, but I would really strongly suggest looking into working with a certified behaviorist. Trainers are great for puppies and dogs that have had normal lives. Doozer needs someone to assess his specific issues and work with your family to understand them. A behaviorist is there as much, if not more, for you and your family's behaviors. I am no behaviorist and don't claim to be, but for starters, the bones and high value items (toys, chewies, whatever) need to go. They can be enjoyed in his crate (are you crate-training? This is something else I LOVE, especially for families with kids, as it gives the dog a "home base" to go to if they are overwhelmed") and crate only. My breed of choice is also in the hound family, so I know how they are about food or anything that might even smell like food. We have one dog who I am 100% confident would bite my kids over a rawhide. So, no rawhides until the kids are old enough to understand not to bother him, and possibly not even then. He'll live. Also, nipping is a dominant behavior--think of how a mama dog disciplines pups. Doozer needs to know his place in the family--he sees himself as dominant over or at least equal to your son. Google NILIF, Nothing In Life Is Free.


Any dog can bite under the right circumstances. As you said, this was totally a warning. If he'd wanted or intended to hurt your DS, he would have done it. I realize that's of little comfort when you feel scared for your son. But I have to tell you, I've seen this often, and in my experience it's definitely a sign that attention is needed, but not always a sign that he is going to all out bite. Also, your rescue should be helping you through this. It SO irks me when rescues adopt out dogs and then say "Welp, good luck, here's the number of a trainer in case you need anything, kthanksbye." There is no reason for you to feel like a failure, at all. Your rescue should be all over this situation like white on rice making sure you have the correct support that you need to keep Doozer in your home (or remove him immediately if he truly is dangerous, but it honestly doesn't sound like it from the situation you described.) Yet another reason why rescues should be regulated. Buuuut that's a whole nother soapbox.


Best of luck to you and Doozer, OP.  You sound like a wonderful, thoughtful mom, human and dog, and I hope you can find a solution. :hugs


ETA: has some great short articles about dogs and kids, and a plethora of other dog related topics as well!

K + J = DS Evan 1/26/09 and happily welcoming DS Colin, our 9lb 5oz vbac.gif New Year's Day baby, 1/1/11!
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#9 of 9 Old 02-23-2011, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you so much everyone, especially KayTeeJay. I am really an animal owner for life and not one to fob off my responsibilities. I honestly balled my eyes out when I thought we needed to send him back to the rescue. We have DS and Doozer completely seperated by a large baby gate that spans the width of our living room now, so I'm feeling much better about the immediate situation.

We haven't crate trained him, although we need to do so soon because we are planning on moving back home (we currently live in Hong Kong) and he'll need to fly home with us (at least a 12 hour flight). I have never crate trained a dog before, and I was hesitant with him because we knew that he had been confined to a small space because his legs were so bowed. But it has become apparent that we need to do so. I'll ask the trainer on Saturday to help us. We took him to the vet the other day because he has been limping and the vet thinks he is actually more like 5-7 years old because of the build up of tartar and he believes he has the beginning of arthritis. So, I believe the dog may have been in pain the day he snapped at my DS. He's on some medication to help and we've seen him become a bit more sprightly since starting the pain meds.The rescue situation in Hong Kong is really quite desperate. There are so many stray dogs that all rescues are constantly inundated with lovely dogs that need homes. As well, space is a huge issue, because there just isn't much space in homes here. The rescue I got him from is really a few women with very few resources. But I do wish that there were more resources for pet owners here. I contacted a behaviouralist about my cat a few months back but she wanted nearly USD$450 per visit. We aren't poor but we can't afford that kind of money. I will keep my eyes open for a reasonably priced behaviouralist though. But I'm thinking we can afford to wait until we get back to Canada and find someone reasonably priced now that we found a solution to keeping them separate. again, thank you everyone. We'll see how training goes this Saturday.
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