Resource guarding against infant

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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 19th, 2010, 11:20 am

Fortunately this is not about Inara - I'm posting for a friend. J has a 6 year old spayed female pit/rott mix named Echo. She's had Echo since she was like 4 weeks old (took her from a BYB to save her as she wasn't eating). Echo is super great with people and kind of bitchy with dogs - we call her the "fun police."

Anyway, J has a baby who is about 8 months old. Up until recently, Echo has been great with him. A couple weeks ago though she growled at him when he crawled close to the trash can. She resource guards the trash can against the other dogs but had never done it with Porter before. So J began separating Echo whenever there was food of any kind around, whether it was dog food or people food. This seemed to solve the problem. However, last night, J and Porter and Echo and the 2 other dogs were lounging on her bed. Porter was just crawling around on the bed and Echo was curled up with J. Porter began crawling towards J and Echo growled and snapped at him. J was shocked and didn't really do anything as she wasn't sure she saw it right. But a few minutes later Echo growled and snapped at Porter again. J kicked the dogs off the bed and picked Porter up, then called me, very upset.

She feels she can no longer trust Echo. She's afraid that if Echo is resource guarding her, will Echo then snap at Porter if he's crawling towards J on the living room floor? She knows that if Echo wanted to bite him Porter, she could have, but she obviously doesn't want to push her over that bite threshold limit. She's devastated because she's afraid she may have to euth Echo because she can't trust her, yet she doesn't feel it's fair to keep her separated from the family for the rest of her life. Echo does not do well when J is not around - she refuses to eat and is just listless, so J doesn't think she could rehome her.

I'm loaning her money to have my trainer come out to her house for a behavioral consult. But what else can she do? I hate to see Echo PTS but I know that Porter's safety needs to come first. Thoughts or ideas???
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies.""
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 19th, 2010, 12:15 pm

How much training has the dog had?

Is the dog crate trained?

How much experience does the dog have with kids/babies?
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Postby tiva » February 19th, 2010, 2:04 pm

I'm sorry this is happening, and it's great that your behaviorist can come help her with a private consult.

It's not at ALL uncommon for a dog to begin to react to a baby when she starts crawling. The prognosis is very good; with careful management and counterconditioning, most dogs can become quite reliable with toddlers. So your friend doesn't need to start panicking about having to euthanize her dog. The private consult, of course, will be a much better judge than any online opinion.

First and foremost, start with management. A baby gate is a wonderful, wonderful thing to keep the baby and the dog both safe. Your friend can hang out with her baby on one side of the gate, the dog right on the other side of the gate, and feed the dog treats for all calm, relaxed behavior close to the child. Do this, over and over, rewarding calmness close to the child, while the trainer has a chance to come evaluate the situation. Your friend should pretty much ignore the dog when the child is out of the room, and then give the dog tons of good treats and attention when the child is present (but separated by a gate from the dog) and the dog is calm. She wants the dog to associate child=calm behavior=happy mom paying me lots of attention=all good things happen when the child is nearby.

Dr Sophia Yin has a good discussion of toddlers and dogs: ... household/
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » February 19th, 2010, 5:03 pm

Erin: Echo has had basic training. She can do sit, down and shake, but that's about it. She is not crate trained (don't get me started on that!). J has a second son who is 13 now, so Echo has always been around kids.

Nancy - Porter has actually been crawling for about 3 months now. He's a frighteningly advanced baby. From the beginning, J has always been careful to make sure the dogs know that when Porter is around, Very Good Things happen. She lets them lick his high seat tray after eating, and he now feeds them Cheerios as he's eating them. All 3 dogs are very gentle with Porter, and J is very good about not letting him pull ears or tails or anything.

She spoke to my trainer today, and Ginger said essentially what you said - make sure that Echo knows that babies equal Very Good Things. She and J will hopefully be able to hook up next week for some real help. J is also going to run a thyroid check on Echo, just in case. I was over visiting this afternoon, though, and Echo was barking and clawing at the window (her prey drive for moving critters outside has increased) and J went over to move her away, and Echo actually gave her a quick growl. She almost got into it with one of the other dogs this morning, too - the one pup has a large scratch on her chin from Echo. It's very strange. I almost hope it IS thyroid issues.

Thanks for the link - I'll make sure J gets it.
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