|Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"|
My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
|Barked: Thu Apr 4, '13 2:55pm PST |
|Agree with everything Tiller said.
I'd definitely give the Vet checkup and the behaviorist a go. Behaviorists can be pricey, but they are SO worth it with these situations.
You want to capture and prevent anything before it becomes a problem or escalates and that's ultimately what you're doing right now. It could very well be that your dog views the baby as part of the family and doesn't have the same reaction to her, as he does to strangers. But it could go either way.
That said, usually there are other warning signs that are more subtle, and it's likely that you didn't pick up on them. Posture, facial expressions, whale eye, etc are all just small parts of the big puzzle when it comes to canine body language, and it takes many small things to create a big picture for us. Often, we don't even notice there's a problem until the dog growls, barks, or bites and then we believe it was more sudden than it actually was. A behaviorist can ultimately help you in establishing WHAT his warning signals are, subtle ones included.
My own dog is incredibly tolerant with young children, however, if his muscles get tense, if he keeps turning his head away from them, looks away, licks his lips, or shies off when they come near him, I know instantly with any of these behaviors that they're making him uncomfortable and it's time to call off the tots. That said, I've had him for five years and have studied dog behavior diligently the entire time.
This CAN be something that can be worked through to safely have him in your home, and happily, and cohabiting with your family and the new baby. However, it DOES take time, training, management, positive reinforcement, AND teaching baby what is and isn't allowed with the dogs too. A behaviorist will be able to assess the situation better, and give you a better idea of what the likelihood will be of him being able to work past these issues with you, so that he can live safely and comfortably in your home. Best case scenario, they can help and you can keep your dog without issue. Worst case scenario, the behaviorist gives an assessment, and you and the behaviorist decide together that it would be better to rehome him somewhere without children.
I agree with Tiller, that with any of my dogs, if I had to rehome, I would only do so after having done everything I knew, in my heart, that I could to keep from having to do that. But, like you, I view them as family and it would break my heart to be put in that situation.
Whether he's comfortable with baby right now, or not, and whether or not he shows any jealousy, I would still make a huge effort to make all good behavior around the baby a positive thing to reinforce the idea that behaving around baby = great stuff! Charlie is incredibly comfortable around children and babies, and very tolerant, but I still make every effort to reinforce that consistently, every day to make sure he keeps up the good tolerance and positive associations. It helps, a lot. Especially if you want to start properly socializing a dog that otherwise, didn't have much in the way of children.
Another thing someone on here suggested to me(I believe it was Trigger), because I'm expecting as well, was to lay baby blankets on the floor in various places, and train the dogs NOT to step foot on the blankets, no matter what. Make a game of it, make it fun for the dogs, make obstacle courses out of baby blankets(if they smell like a baby, all the better!) and teach them that these places are for baby ONLY, no exceptions and reward for avoiding the blankets. This is something I'm working on with Ria, my puppy of the two most, because she's very bouncy and isn't always aware that running into a child can send them flying and can HURT. So, I've been working on this with her most, because she's very hyper active and all over the place and needs to become more aware of her surroundings anyway. Just an idea for something to do as well to help with the process.
If you do decide that it's safest and best to rehome him, you will only receive support here. Being honest about what you can and cannot handle, and what you are and are not willing to try to work through, is ultimately best for you and your family. If you're willing to try to work through it, that's awesome! And if you can't or don't feel it's safe, we will understand too. It's a very, very difficult decision to have to make.
Have a consultation with the behaviorist, and a Vet check up done, and go from there.
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