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Our 6 yr old Cane Corso has always been a fantastic dog...very loving and great with kids. However, he has always been very protective of my husband and more recently me. My husband used to do a lot to socialize him when he was was younger but it has more difficult to do this as frequently the past several years because of our jobs (My husband works a lot of night work), lifestyle, etc. One recent get together with our family and their dogs, left our dog having to be isolated because he couldn't tolerate them (the other dogs) and was acting out.

Since the birth of our daughter four months ago, he is not himself. He often appears on edge and nervous when she is crying or showing signs of excitement (especially when her arms and legs move fast). Three or four times he has "snapped at her"...never hurting her but snapped. Each time it was when she was in my presence without my husband being around and each time it happened was when my daughter was kicking her legs a mile a minute and flapping her arms. The most recent incident occurred yesterday.

When he's on edge and whinning, we've been telling him that it's okay and we try to give him attention. Sometimes, she'll be fussing/moving and he will ignore her. When this happens, we try to reward him with attention, a pat, and a treat. We realize he needs attention still, it can be very difficult again, because it's often just me, my daughter and our dog while my husband is working/sleeping.

As anyone can imagine, my husband and I are at a loss. We do know what to do. We are fearful that it will happen again and really hurt our daughter. Her safety is our number one concern. We don't feel like we can just keep letting it go...hoping he just needs more time to adjust. Sometimes we have family and friends over to babysit and these are the times where we really worry because neither me or my husband is home to really keep an eye out for our daughter and for our dog. It's like we constantly need to be on alert. She can never be put down on the floor to play when our dog is around...one or the other has to be isolated in a room and this is tough because we don't feel like it's fair for her or the dog.

I've heard that it's difficult to bring children into the home with a cane corso and that cane corsos need to grow up with children...is this true?

The whole situation is extremely difficult for everyone involved. At this time, we are researching and trying to find tips and/or advice on what's the right thing to do. Any suggestions are very much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 

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Just reading through your post, your dog is VERY stressed with the arrival of the baby. I HIGHLY suggest you get a veterinary BEHAVIORIST in VERY QUICKLY. I also highly suggest, even if there has been a recent check up, that you take your dog to the vet and get further tests that aren't done as part of a routine exam as certain medical conditions can cause additional stress resulting in behavioral problems and IF they are present it will be very hard to amend the behaviors without treating them. The fact that this is an older dog means it's more prone to certain of these conditions.

6 panel Thyroid, sent to MSU. Thyroid can be the root cause of behavioral changes, because the thyroid hormone can effect EVERY system of the body causing anxiety and depression as well as problems with the coat and weight. Low/normal thyroid (which is not detectable on in office tests) can cause the start of behavioral changes.

FULL Tick titre Tick born ailments can do some very unusual things to the body, like thyroid certain diseases can effect all systems (the most notorious being Lyme's)

Glaucoma and cataracts, both affect vision, Glaucoma is a VERY painful condition and we all know how cranky pain can make us, things that may have once been tolerated will no longer be. Also if a dogs vision is impaired, it could explain the hypersensitivity to babies sudden movements.

FULL heart work-up, a bum ticker can make any animal (and humans) feel not so great, my Mastiff had cardiomyopathy, he gradually became more and more tired and VERY irritable just from not being healthy.

The fact is all to often there ARE underlying medical conditions when behavioral changes/problems occur and they're often not caught until it's too late.

You can find a qualified behaviorist here:
www.iaabc.org
www.apdt.com

Get this done quickly, and be sure you keep dog and baby separated and CLOSELY supervised
 

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I second cshell's advice....I would also recommend putting a stop to this..."When he's on edge and whining, we've been telling him that it's okay and we try to give him attention".....you are reinforcing this behavior........you have it right when you give him attention and praise when he is ignoring the baby or calm around the baby.
 

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Definitly take him to the vet and get bloodwork, not just a check up, but bloodwork. We got our second dog Allie because she was snapping at our niece. We told them we would take her as we didn't want to see anything happen to our niece, or to Allie. When we got Allie we took her to our vet and it turns out she was ill, she had anaplasmosis which is a tick bourn disease. If they had taken her in for bloodwork early on they probably would have caught it, been able to treat it and things wouldn't have gotten as bad as they did with her snapping at the baby.
 

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Oh, definately DO NOT reward fearful or 'clingy' behavior, that's the dog demanding attention and it should NEVER be rewarded by giving them the attention they seek (good practice for when the baby becomes a demanding teenager LOL), ONLY reward calm, brave behavior.
 

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When he's on edge and whinning, we've been telling him that it's okay and we try to give him attention.
Try a little experiment with yourself. Say, "Good dog! Good boy!" the way you would normally praise your dog. Then say, "It's okay" in the tone you normally use when attempting to calm him down.

Do they sound like a similar tone? Remember, tone is more important than words with dogs. He is likely hearing the same tone in your voice when you say "it's okay" that hears when you tell him he's been a "good boy." So... he thinks his reaction to the baby is the correct one. You are reinforcing his thought that there is something wrong/upsetting.

I'm with the others who advised ignoring him when he's acting up. Don't pet him, don't tell him it's okay, don't give him attention.

First and foremost, though, follow the advice re: a thorough checkup.
 

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I would never tell the dog its ok or giving it treats while he is behaving like that. Although you dont realize it, that reinforces that unwanted behavior. Good luck though.
 
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