I just found this old thread but have a few things I'd like to address. I work with dogs and have worked with dogs for years in many ways. I have four dogs and am pregnant. I also have a 10 month old nephew who is at my home very often (2-3 times a week). Three of my dogs are rescues (which are often more unpredictiable than those from a good breeder).
I do not think at the first sign of agression a dog should be given away or put down. I think a very reputible behaviourist or trainer should be called IMMEDAITLY (the fact that it took several nips/bites from this dog is not a good sign for the mother). An option that I have not seen discussed is Doggy Boot Camp, many trainers and kennels offer this service and some do a great job with it. It would remove the dog from the situation while hopefully helping the dog to be better behaved when it comes back.
Also, it was metioned in this thread that you can't train fear out of a dog. I disagree. I rescued a dog becuase it was given up due to biting a child.... I learned a lot about that dog and now I trust him around my nehew. That dog had obiviously had some sort of abuse. He was EXTREMLY food agressive attempting to bite my husband. myself and my other dog. But we worked with him a lot (if you want details I can give them seperatly) and now several people can apprach him while he eats and even take the food away. Now I would NEVER let a child aproach his food bowl and I would never leave ANY of my dogs alone with a child. But food agreassion is just one of his issues.... learning about his issues and working with them has made him a million times better than when we got him!
Finding the root of the problem is where you need to start. It is usually either fear or dominance. If it is fear the dog needs to learn that it will always be provided with its basic needs, just eating on a regular basis helped our dog! Fear usualy comes from abuse..... If dominance is the issues they need firm correction (not BEATINGS) to learn that ALL humans are above them (this is the issue I have with my alpha female....) she doesn't see babies as people, so she doesn't see them as above her, she has never snapped at a child or baby, but has growled and has been corrected. She now lets my nephew pet her and she doesn't react at all she just puts up with it. I don't let if go on too long though, I show her that as the Leader I'm looking out for her needs and wont let her get hurt.
If a dog has dominance issues it should NEVER be in your bed! That is a position of power in a home. It is an elvated sleeping area that in the wild would only be for the alpah animals. It also shouldn't be allowed on furniture, and for some, they shouldn't have toys around (that they could get agressive protectiong).
I do not think Euthinaisa is necisary is very many cases, there are 100's of rescue groups around that country that will do whatever they can to help (traditional shelters usually are not much help...)
Also, even though I think MOST dogs can be trained to be safe around children (for some period of time, all dogs need a break!) there are the few that can't and in those cases the safty of child is always number one and all other options should be persused. When my baby is born in september my dogs will slowly be introduced and will probably be sperated A LOT, when the baby is that small. But as time goes on my dogs will be around my child a lot. And yes, ANY DOG CAN BITE, but with well trained dogs it is well worth the small risk. I grew up with a dog, and loved every minute of it! Good dogs and good kids need each other!
- Mom to Baby Mark (9/18/10) and 4 wonderful dogs!