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Discussion Starter #1
I have a great mostly friendly sometimes territorial 5 year old dog. First time my dog ever showed aggression was when my new boyfriend moved in. My dog was sleeping on our bed as he had done with me for years. My boyfriend tried to climb into bed and my dog snapped at him. From this day forward he has not been on the bed. A new problem arose when my boyfriends toddler came to the house. The dog who usually loves kids growled at the baby. I believe he sensed the neediness of the child and took it as a threat to his own attention. To eliminate the problem the dog was isolated to the bedroom for short visits but the dog was uncomfortable and whined and cried being away from the excitement. Now the child is with us 16 hours a week. I have tried long walks before the child arrives and frequent walks during the visit (no access to a yard). The two are now seperated by a baby gate but the dog will still growl and snarl when they get to close. The dog is then removed for 5 minutes. I can't risk the dog biting the child. What else can I do? Please help!
 

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The first thing I would do is take this dog to the vet for a full exam. 5 years old is getting to be middle aged (depending on breed etc) and there might be arthritic changes, sight/hearing changes that are going on in his body. There may also be underlying chemical imbalances (such as a thyroid issue) that is causing the sudden change in behavior. Make sure you request a fully blood panel including a thyroid test.

If an exam proves to be inconclusive I highly recommend working with a qualified behaviorist. Aggression towards children is not something that should be taken lightly. You are doing the right thing by keeping the two separated for now.

Does he have a crate? Having a safe place where you know you can keep him without any one getting near him is probably a good idea. Plus, dogs usually use crates as a place to retreat to when they need some space.
 

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Thank you for your response. He has been to the vet recently battling a skin condition where his thyroid was tested and came up fine. I do believe unfortunatly it is just our child he is threatened by. While walking him just this morning while the baby was inside we came upon a 3 year old on the street he greeted her like he always has greeted children tail wagging and lots of kisses. I believe his insecurities may have stemmed from last year. My ex and I adopted him together then 4 years later we broke up and it was just he and I. When the new boyfriend came into the picture there was definitly some tension then we were forced to move only 3 months after he moved in. Now I swear he likes the new boyfriend better than me. It did take time and the baby situation has only been a 2 week thing so far. I am hopeing with time things could change. He does not have a crate. I try to use the bedroom as his "safe zone" he is not punished there that is where he sleeps and I do give him bones stuffed with cheese. The only time he gets these is when the baby is around trying to make it a good thing the baby is here.
The first thing I would do is take this dog to the vet for a full exam. 5 years old is getting to be middle aged (depending on breed etc) and there might be arthritic changes, sight/hearing changes that are going on in his body. There may also be underlying chemical imbalances (such as a thyroid issue) that is causing the sudden change in behavior. Make sure you request a fully blood panel including a thyroid test.

If an exam proves to be inconclusive I highly recommend working with a qualified behaviorist. Aggression towards children is not something that should be taken lightly. You are doing the right thing by keeping the two separated for now.

Does he have a crate? Having a safe place where you know you can keep him without any one getting near him is probably a good idea. Plus, dogs usually use crates as a place to retreat to when they need some space.
 

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Could he be in pain from the skin condition?

I think that getting a crate would do a world of good for both you and the dog. A bed is nice, but it's not confined. If you have a place where 1) he can feel safe and 2) you know he is confined, I think you'll both feel pretty good. You don't need to keep him in it for very long periods of time - just perhaps feed him his meals in there, give him food-stuffed Kongs/bones/etc so he can relax in there with them, maybe take some occasional naps in there. I did not have a crate for the first year of my dog's life here with me (we rescued her as an adult) but now I don't know how I ever lived without one. She is not "crate trained" per se as she does not like to stay in a room alone in it for long periods of time, but is useful if we have guests, or I just need her to stay in one place, etc. Since your dog has aggression issues I definitely think it's a good idea to have a place to confine him, if need be.

Good job on the bones stuffed with cheese - just make sure that he doesn't get the idea that the baby is going to take the bone away or something. I only mention this because the issue with him snapping at your boyfriend in the bed does sound like a bit of a guarding issue.

It may be that he just needs a period to adjust, but I would still recommend working with a professional as they might be able to speed the process along.
 

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Thank you so much for all of your help. I will definitly look into getting a crate. If there are any other ideas please pass them along. I want to be as educated as possible and have as many tricks up my sleeve as I can. Again thank you.
Could he be in pain from the skin condition?

I think that getting a crate would do a world of good for both you and the dog. A bed is nice, but it's not confined. If you have a place where 1) he can feel safe and 2) you know he is confined, I think you'll both feel pretty good. You don't need to keep him in it for very long periods of time - just perhaps feed him his meals in there, give him food-stuffed Kongs/bones/etc so he can relax in there with them, maybe take some occasional naps in there. I did not have a crate for the first year of my dog's life here with me (we rescued her as an adult) but now I don't know how I ever lived without one. She is not "crate trained" per se as she does not like to stay in a room alone in it for long periods of time, but is useful if we have guests, or I just need her to stay in one place, etc. Since your dog has aggression issues I definitely think it's a good idea to have a place to confine him, if need be.

Good job on the bones stuffed with cheese - just make sure that he doesn't get the idea that the baby is going to take the bone away or something. I only mention this because the issue with him snapping at your boyfriend in the bed does sound like a bit of a guarding issue.

It may be that he just needs a period to adjust, but I would still recommend working with a professional as they might be able to speed the process along.
 
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