2nd Trimester

Can't stand one of our dogs and am worried about her being around baby

Hi there,

I am 22 weeks pregnant. We have two dogs and a cat. One dog is a sweet 6 year old Shiba Inu who we rescued at 2 years of age. Our other dog is an Aussie/Cattledog mix who is 3 years old who we rescued when she was 6 months old. And our cat is an older lady who is 14. She was our first pet as a couple and has been with us for quite a while now.

Our Aussie mix is more my husband's dog while the Shiba has tended to be more my dog and our kitty just loves us all (I think).

When our Aussie was a puppy, she was really difficult and I came close to rehoming her. Over the years, I got used to her and even enjoyed spending time with her. But over the past couple of weeks, those feelings of dislike towards her have come back. 

She is very smart and can be super sweet, but she is very bossy, demanding, territorial and reactive. She is very protective of my husband and guards random spaces as if they are hers and none of the other pets. For example, she for some reason thinks the couch is hers. She will try to snap at our cat when she jumps up on the couch with us and I end up yelling at her to leave it and no. She runs off realizing she made a no-no. But that doesn't stop her from doing it again. This is a behavior that has always been there since puppyhood and while my cat can sit on the back of the couch now without the dog reacting to her our Aussie will not let her come closer. 

I think these behaviors trouble me because the thought of her doing that to my baby is very concerning to me. We have muzzle trained her because when she is around small children she does get nervous and snaps. I would like to think that she would see our baby as one of the pack but if she hasn't changed with our cat in 3 years then I am not sure it will change. 

I don't really know what I am looking for, but maybe some tips or advice or reassurance. I don't like the idea of rehoming her but will if she ends up becoming dangerous to my child.

Thanks for reading.

Stephanie

Re: Can't stand one of our dogs and am worried about her being around baby

  • hi stephanie,

    i had a similar situation with my cat. she grew up with my 5 year old (got her as a kitten when my daughter was 1). she had grown extremely protective of my daughter and a couple years later she began violently attacking my husband and my dad. she had shown signs of aggression and protective behaviors before but she never attacked. since the time she attacked, we felt discouraged and tried to teach her and train her and even put her on anti anxiety medication as the attacks increased. she eventually began to attack me, at super random times. then one day she attacked my daughter. i found out i was pregnant a few months later with our second and because we hadn’t seen any improvement, we decided to rehome her to a family without kids. she’s really sweet but we were afraid of her attacking our baby. thankfully we found a home for her and the new owner sends me photos and videos of her. long story short, my reassurance comes to tell you that it’s okay if you decide it’s best to rehome her. sometimes that’s the best option. 

    i hope you guys find a resolution ❤️ 
  • edited March 28
    I don't have any tips, but we had a very similar situation.  We both brought dogs into the relationship. Mine was sweet and loved everyone a true dog. He knew no strangers. My husband saved his dog from a dog fight situation.  So he was a pit and very aggressive and just unpredictable. I love pits, btw, just not rescued fighter ones. They are very difficult. He attacked my dog. Made my dog nervous, but we eventually got through that. Everything was fine. Mine passed away of old age and cancer and his lives on. They were both great with our kids, mine much more so, but his came around.

    I never thought I'd allow my children around him, but slowly we did when my oldest was 3. The dog never liked kids, but didn't mind ours. He knew that's ours we made that we will kick you out. So he still does great with them. We don't allow infants or young toddlers around him as they don't know dog etiquette. As soon as the children learn it they can intermingle. We let the infants or toddler pet him or give a treat but never alone with him.

    That's been my experience. I wish Mine had lived and his hadn't. Mine let them ride him and sleep with him. But until he passes we won't get another dog. To say I'm counting down the days seems cruel, but it's true. I like the dog, just love my kids more and want them to have the litters of puppies I had growing up. Someday! 

    Good luck. Follow your instincts. And congrats! 
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  • sjuncasjunca member
    Thanks for sharing your experiences! It is such a contrast to me comparing how sweet our Shiba and kitty have become towards not only me but my husband as well since I have been pregnant. Whereas our Aussie is just acting out even more. She is starting to frustrate even my husband who has this uncanny ability to remain patient with her.

    We did take her to puppy training and then obedience training when we first got her. She does know basic commands so at least there is that. But she has a strong will and tends to ignore me giving her a command if my husband is there. She will look to him to see if he agrees or will say something different. 

    I have started to mostly ignore her. I work from home while my husband works at the office 9-5 Monday to Friday. So I have to deal with her for most of the day but I think she has caught on to the fact that I am not happy with her. She mostly keeps her distance. 

    I hope that when baby comes she will turn a leaf but I don't feel too confident. 
  • nken20nken20 member
    I know you only want to protect your precious child. And I understand you. In case your dog shows aggressive behaviour, you should be more cautious and consider rehoming her. I know it would hurt you and your husband. But the safety of your child is on top priority. 
  • I had to rehome our cat because our daughter ended up being allergic. It was really hard because he hadn’t done anything wrong but him living with us was harming our newborn. We found a great home for him and the new owners got in contact with us to give us updates and ask for advice about toys and how to care for him. 
    I also used to work at a dog daycare and learned dog training and grooming while there. Territorial behavior can be changed and untrained and it sometimes can be triggered by things that we do without knowing. If there’s a good dog trainer in your area I’d try to give them a call and see if they could help to train some of the negative behaviors from your dog. I definitely think that monitoring and limiting early contact is smart as babies don’t know how to properly interact with dogs and it takes a very patient dog to allow a baby’s lack of etiquette. If you already have concerns, I’d definitely wait until they’re older and learn some warning signs that dogs give yourself. Dogs body language and facial expressions change when they are happy, annoyed, about to attack, etc. I had to train on this at the daycare to prevent fights from breaking out amongst the group. You can look these things up and try to see them in your dog to see if there may be a correlation between her body language and her snapping. 
  • polichikpolichik member
    I HIGHLY recommend bringing your dog to a veterinary behaviorist. Training and obedience is a great place to start, but a behavioral analysis will give you so many more tools, and help reduce stress on you and your dog. If working with a behaviorist is a stretch financially, @dogmeetsbaby on IG is fantastic and shares many free resources and more advanced paid content. 

    We have a reactive rescue dog who has had some resource guarding behavior, and we wanted to make sure we weren’t creating unsafe situation when our daughter started crawling. We learned a ton of amazing techniques and management tools from our behaviorist, and it’s gone so much better than we thought it would. There are tons of management things you can do, especially with baby gates, and separating them while you’re teaching them both skills about how to be around each other. One of the key things our behaviorist stressed is to only offer positive reinforcement and never negative, because scolding or punishing a dog for growling or other behaviors can have them skip displaying their warning signs to show they’re uncomfortable and go straight to nipping if stressed (@dogmeetsbaby’s “ladder of canine aggression” is SO helpful). 

    Our dog is wonderful with our daughter, and having a reactive rescue has made us teach our daughter really great boundaries and respect with our dog. That’s now translating beautifully into her acting well with other children, being patient, and understanding that others have needs and boundaries too. 

    All in all, it’s been a TON of work and has been stressful at times, but it’s been so rewarding and wonderful to see how much we’ve all grown by educating ourselves about how to be the best dog parents and baby parents we can be. 
  • sjuncasjunca member
    Thanks for sharing! That's a good point about seeing a behaviorist. Unfortunately my husband lost his job last week so it may not be feasible to do that until he gets a new job. I did mention taking our dog to training again and he thinks it would be a good idea. 
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