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This is a long winded post, but I wanted to put the background in here so I get some solutions!
My 8 year old black lab mix has always been legitimately neurotic and stressed. Our vet identified it very early on, but we blew it off (What could our 8 week old puppy who is spoiled and loved be stressed about??), but 8 years later, her words are ringing true. At worst, it was an inconvenience to us (Roxie barking at known people, barking constantly at other animals, constantly being underfoot, etc.) Now we've added to our family (my son is 14 months old), which is causing Roxie more anxiety. Even after all the time since Max came home, she's still a mess, probably because he changes so much every day (growing, crawling, walking, etc.). Though I realize this may not be the case forever, I can honestly say Max doesn't torture the dog like most toddlers might. This is in large part because Roxie won't let Max within 5 feet of her. She doesn't snap (she sometimes growls) or bite; she gets up and walks away. When we are playing Roxie wants to be in the room with us; if she's gated out, she stands at the gate and barks (same with if we put her outside alone longer than it takes her to pee. My problems came to a head this week when Roxie was pacing and pacing while Max played in the same room. I tried to get Roxie to relax and sit with me, but anytime Max headed her way, she got up and started pacing again. Max was walking and fell belly first and Roxie at the time was up and pacing and before I knew it, she jumped up and landed on Max while he was down. He now has a bruise below his shoulder blade (she's 90 lbs) and I am a wreck. It was an accident but I can't handle Max being in danger. Our vet said we can't give Roxie medication for her anxiety because she has a heart murmur. We tried the herbal approach (valerian root), but that had no effect on her. I just don't know what to do. Roxie was our baby before Max and we love her so much. She is still loved and certainly not ignored. We did everything we were supposed to do when I was pregnant and when we brought Max home, but Roxie's anxiety has increased, if anything. We don't want to give her away, but obviously if we had to, we choose Max's safety. We don't want Roxie to live a life of such high anxiety either. Does anyone have any suggestions for our situation??
 

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I realize that this is a difficult situation, I'm sorry that you didn't realize the seriousness of her anxiety earlier on. How serious is her heart murmur? Has she had a full bloodwork panel to rule out other issues (thyroid, liver, kidney etc) so that you can truly assess the danger of putting her on pharmaceuticals while WORKING on the anxiety? I would think that the stress on her heart from the actual stress hormones is dangerous for her health too...sometimes when looking at using pharmaceutical intervention for anything you have to weight the risks vs quality of life for the dog. Have you had her assessed behaviourally by a certified behaviourist/trainer?

Classical conditioning is likely your best place to start (child around means awesome things for Roxie, like chicken or roast beef) along with giving her a safe place to go (a dogbed, a crate or something similar) that the child will not be allowed near and that has been conditioned to be a relaxing and positive place (yes, more food..lol)

Some other things to look at:
Quality of diet
Amount of exercise and mental stimulation (ie training FUN games)
Amount of environmental enrichment (stimulating toys like puzzle games, raw meaty bones, stuffed kongs)

Have a look at the fearful dogs threads here on DF. Lots of recommendations and information on classical conditioning etc. Also take a look at www.fearfuldogs.com
You have to realize that if she's been an anxious dog since a puppy that some of that is likely genetic, so you may not be able to fully remedy it, but you CAN modify her behaviour and give her better coping skills. It will take work and time and experimentation.

Good luck.
 

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Under the exercise thing - have you considered hydrotherapy? Water can be very calming to some dogs...very relaxing. It might be a good idea to find a way/place she could get some swimming in :)
 

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Her stepping on your son is truly a non-issue in this since it was an accident. Trust me, I had an 80 lb blind dog step on my 4 month old's head(he'll be 9 in Sept and is perfectly fine.) He was fine he had a scratch on his forehead and a red mark.

The thing is it shouldn't have been left until this point to have something done about it. You knew you had a problem and ignored it(if anything her growling at him would have got me into action.) What if she had bit him instead of just stepped on him? He is going to get bigger and she is likely to start upping the ante, so the next time she could bite him or worse. Get a behaviorist and get a second opinion from another vet(if yours is totally unwilling to even discuss it) as to whether or not drugs are safe and might be beneficial as you work on this. In the mean time seperate them, do not let them in the same room together(especially unsupervised.)

Either way, get a behaviorist in on this since you can't do it on your own and if the behaviorist reccommends re-homing then and only then should you consider it.

In the meantime exercise her more, it is harder to be nervous and pacey when you are worn out, and make sure she has her own space that your son is not allowed in at all.

Taryn
 

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I would get some blood work done, tests & such to try & find out the prob. I hate this scenario where the dog was there first & then the kid comes, the dog wasn't prepared for it & becsuse the dog displays 'normal' dog behaviors & ends up dumped at a shelter becsuse of it. I have actually adopted a couple of dogs with that story.
 

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I would get some blood work done, tests & such to try & find out the prob. I hate this scenario where the dog was there first & then the kid comes, the dog wasn't prepared for it & becsuse the dog displays 'normal' dog behaviors & ends up dumped at a shelter becsuse of it. I have actually adopted a couple of dogs with that story.
This sound beyond a normal situation. Without the backround she gave I would say she was overreacting, but with it this is a serious issue, that should have been dealt with YEARS ago, before they even though of having a child. They knew the dog had problems and chose to ignore them. Instead we end up with this situation which now involves a toddler. 2 year olds are worse than one year old and my son only survived 3 because he's cute. If this isn't dealt with now the kid is going to get attacked and the dog will be destroyed unless they get professional help.

Taryn
 

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And I think you would have great difficulty re-homing him with these issues. I certainly would never adopt a dog like that, and I have no kids around here. I would look at meds, even if it is hard on his heart. Being so nervous all the time, his quality of life certainly has to be affected. My daughter had a behavourist for her dog, and the results were well worth the hard work of training. In her case, her dog had not been socialized to people at all..he lived in a barn. She found that just to understand what the dog was doing and why, helped a lot. Thinking good thoughts for you here.
 
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