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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Please help. My new marriage is in serious trouble. I am pushing for counseling and dog training to address the situation but my husband is in denial of the problem. We are having a dog trainer come for the 2nd time this week. The first training didn't do much - it was more for my husband than anyone and everything just went in one ear and out the other. I am not hopeful for the next trainer to do much unless his attitude changes!

There are 2 big problems (though many many other smaller less urgent ones): the dog does not like my toddler (or babies/kids in general), and the dog has separation anxiety so I can't even separate the dog from the situation. If I separate the dog, the dog goes absolutely nuts. She sounds like she is in physical pain when separated from people. And to top it off, my husband encourages the behavior. She was outside for 10 minutes last night and he said, "her feelings are hurt being away from us." I am not confident that we can correct the separation anxiety. Both because my husband is only half-heartedly trying to help the problem, and because the dog is seriously distressed when alone. I really think she is just a velcro-dog breed.

The dog snaps at my son all the time, and has bitten me once (no broken skin). She doesn't like being petted on her back, even if done gently. At the park my husband lets little children pet the dog, and she is stiff as a board the whole time usually. This past weekend, a 1.5 year old child leaned on her tail and the dog snarled viciously and snapped at her.

I keep telling my husband it's not smart to let kids pet the dog but he thinks it won't ever result in a real bite. Maybe it won't? But how can you be sure!

I'd be more okay with the situation if I could keep the dog and my toddler apart, but that's not an option either!

He has pretty much stated very plainly that he would divorce me before rehoming the dog. I'm very much into having a dog for life, but we have the option of rehoming his dog to his parents, with his handicapped father who loves the dog dearly (and it was so good for the father to have the dog around) and spent all day with the dog, versus the dog living with two very busy working professionals who are never home. The dog is lonely living with us.

For the most part, my son is very gentle with the dog. It's not like she snaps when she's being hurt. It's anytime she's being touched and she doesn't want it. I was bitten by her when I picked her up, after she had gotten loose and was running in the road. If you hold her by the collar, she bites. If you need to move her, she snaps.

The problem is compounded by the fact that my son is not my husband's child. So I understand he is closer to the dog than to my child at this point. But we are also looking to have children of our own, and soon, as we are both in our 30's. The dog is expected to live another 15 years (she's only 3 and a small breed).

What do I do? Is there hope for the situation? Is there a way to "kid-proof" her? I really just think that some dogs are not good with children due to temperament. I'm really scared the dog will bite a child in the street one of these days, and where we live there are no second chances, the dog will be put down. I don't blame the dog, I blame my husband for not training her and not having boundaries with her (she has been super spoiled and done whatever she wants for 3 years so I think she has some confusion about where she is in the "pack").

Is a 3 year old dog able to change? Either to tolerate children better, or to tolerate being alone in the yard or in a different room?

Help?? Any advice is much appreciated. Really looking for all to have the best outcome.

(PS I know it's important to train children to be gentle with dogs, but you can't trust a child with anything in the first few years of life, no matter how well you discipline them! And a 1.5 year old has no concept of gentle/roughness yet. There is also no way to supervise fully - for example, the 1.5 year old at the park, there were 3 of us within 1 foot and the snap happened so fast that none of us had time to react and stop if it had been a real bite...)
 

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What is the breed of the dog first of all, that can make a difference.

So you have 1 of 3 choices.
- Divorce
- Rehome dog
- get hubby onboard.

What do you think it's going to take for your husband to get onboard cause in order to fix the dog, you both need to be on the same page and be a team. It doesn't involve being mean, doesn't involve hurting the dogs feelings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The dog is chihuahua mixed with something. Could be some type of spaniel. Even vets have a hard time knowing what she's mixed with but definitely chihuahua with something. Thanks for the words. I'm hoping for one of the latter 2 options obviously!
 

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That's a tough one... do you figure the dog is at all stressed by having extra people around? Kennels can help, 4 walls and a roof that the dog can call it's own, safe zone so to speak where the dog is left alone completely. Don't need to lock the dog in. Even a box with a hole cut in it with a blanket will suffice. Muzzle training is a good thing for calming a dog but it doubtful your husband will let it happen.

I think the main battle for you is will he raise the child the same as the dog - the dog at the moment is the result of a bad upbringing. it's a brat basically.

You can do some behavioral modification on your own with success, but the dog will likely gravitate toward him in the end anyhow. Dogs are good at divide and conquer so to speak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)


Don't mind the mess - this is an old pic from my husband's bachelor days :)

She's really cute and sweet aside from some of her neurotic issues and this biting/snapping thing.
 

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Point him here:
Liam J Perk Foundation - Cape Coral, Florida
Stop The 77

Snapping is considered a Level 1 bite. This is a really precarious situation. Look out for your kids. If possible, muzzle-train the dog with a basket muzzle. And trust your instincts-- this is not a dog I would leave unsupervised with kids. You are right, you can't trust toddlers to act predictably safe around dogs. And yes, not every dog can cope with the stress of interacting with a young child, even with the best training. I don't know what the case is with your dog specifically, but the stakes are too high to be risking. Bites to children scar emotionally and physically. Aggression rarely goes away on its own-- to the contrary, if the problem isn't addressed it almost inevitably becomes worse.

I know this is really harsh advice but if he can't get real and accept the peril of the situation at hand, he might need to reconsider whether he is cut out to accept the duties of becoming a step-parent.

Some additional resources:
Doggone Safe - Home
My Dog Bit My Child | Lola the Pitty
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That's a tough one... do you figure the dog is at all stressed by having extra people around? Kennels can help, 4 walls and a roof that the dog can call it's own, safe zone so to speak where the dog is left alone completely. Don't need to lock the dog in. Even a box with a hole cut in it with a blanket will suffice. Muzzle training is a good thing for calming a dog but it doubtful your husband will let it happen.

I think the main battle for you is will he raise the child the same as the dog - the dog at the moment is the result of a bad upbringing. it's a brat basically.

You can do some behavioral modification on your own with success, but the dog will likely gravitate toward him in the end anyhow. Dogs are good at divide and conquer so to speak.
I'm trying to do a lot of my own. My husband thinks it's mean but I am very into giving a dog a lot of commands, having them walk next to you on the leash, only giving attention/affection/treats after doing something to earn it. We are just not on the same page. He lets her walk ahead of him, just wants to shower her with love, exacerbates her separation anxiety by making a huge deal when he comes home. After pushing the issue a lot that it's not good for the dog, he is trying to change his ways but you can see he just doesn't want to, and I think the dog is smart enough to sense that. And I doubt he is consistent when I'm not around.

We have a crate we introduced a few weeks ago. So far she can be in it if we are in the room and she can see us. I can put her in the crate when my son is home - that's a good idea. I've also been trying to put her in the yard where there is a glass door and she can see me while I'm cooking dinner. But I really feel there is only so much I can do on my own.
 

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just wants to shower her with love
How many times have I heard that before... I just want to love the dog!!

We have a crate we introduced a few weeks ago. So far she can be in it if we are in the room and she can see us. I can put her in the crate when my son is home - that's a good idea.
Throw a blanket over the crate if it's the open bar style and leave the door open - and leave her alone. No touch, no talk, don't even look at her. See if the dog relaxes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Point him here:
Liam J Perk Foundation - Cape Coral, Florida
Stop The 77

Snapping is considered a Level 1 bite. This is a really precarious situation. Look out for your kids. If possible, muzzle-train the dog with a basket muzzle. And trust your instincts-- this is not a dog I would leave unsupervised with kids. You are right, you can't trust toddlers to act predictably safe around dogs. And yes, not every dog can cope with the stress of interacting with a young child, even with the best training. I don't know what the case is with your dog specifically, but the stakes are too high to be risking. Bites to children scar emotionally and physically. Aggression rarely goes away on its own-- to the contrary, if the problem isn't addressed it almost inevitably becomes worse.

I know this is really harsh advice but if he can't get real and accept the peril of the situation at hand, he might need to reconsider whether he is cut out to accept the duties of becoming a step-parent.

Some additional resources:
Doggone Safe - Home
My Dog Bit My Child | Lola the Pitty
Thanks and yes, I think I'm right to pay heed to the snapping. At the park, when the dog snapped and growled (rather ferociously) at the 1.5 year old, we were all standing within 1 foot and I realized how if the dog had bit for real, none of us would have been fast enough to stop it. It happened that fast. That was a big wake up call. My husband also witnessed it. I don't know how he can deny that it's something that needs to be addressed, one way or another.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
How many times have I heard that before... I just want to love the dog!!



Throw a blanket over the crate if it's the open bar style and leave the door open - and leave her alone. No touch, no talk, don't even look at her. See if the dog relaxes.
We tried this last night. She barked for hours and pretty sure disturbed the neighbors. Will it get better if we keep trying?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I think the main battle for you is will he raise the child the same as the dog - the dog at the moment is the result of a bad upbringing. it's a brat basically.
Ha, yeah, actually, a point I feel I am constantly making is that he disciplines my son way harsher than the dog! He has no trouble raising his voice to yell at my son, but his discipline for the dog comes out in a whisper. I've never heard him yell at his dog like he has sometimes yelled at my son (and tbh my son deserved the strong yelling, I wasn't against it). If only he could discipline the dog the same way!
 

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It sounds like you have more than dog troubles, and that is part of the dog troubles-an unstable family relationship, dogs, you, your husband and son.
For everyone to stay together, healthy and reasonably happy, your husband needs to be part of the solution.
He loves his dog, right?
He needs to understand that when this dog bites (breaks skin) all heck will break loose, legal heck, muzzle orders, restraints, quarantine, law suits, death (euthanasia order). He loves that dog very much (a very beautiful little dog, I will add) so he needs to figure out how to protect his dog from the very big mess that will happen (yes, I'm more or less speaking to your husband here).
Protection comes in many forms.
A calmer household, people getting along, respecting one another, reserving yelling and screaming or other obvious frustration behaviours for pillows (easier said than done) but something to keep in mind. Dogs do react/act out in the face of upset humans. So just like parents try to keep their arguments away from children's eyes and ears, same goes for dogs, especially sensitive dogs.
Management--keeping the dog away from events or people/other critters that will likely trigger a bite, or behaviour scary enough to cause humans to react.
Training--training will give the dog clear rules, guidelines, help the dog learn she has control over her environment and does not need to act out to be safe--in other words, training makes life just a little more predictable.

If you at all have funds for profession help, now is the time, before the dog bites. Muzzle training, dog in muzzle will buy everyone some time, and interim safety.
 
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we have the option of rehoming his dog to his parents, with his handicapped father who loves the dog dearly (and it was so good for the father to have the dog around) and spent all day with the dog, versus the dog living with two very busy working professionals who are never home. The dog is lonely living with us.
For right now, to get everyone's stress level down, have the dog temporarily go live with your father in law if he would welcome that. That way, there is less urgency and everyone including the dog has time to make changes for the better.
 

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I missed the rehoming option--wow, that sounds ideal...temporarilly or permanently. Some dogs just have trouble with dealing with certain situations.
 

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Hi Shortydog,

I'm writing this as a mother and a wife. Your first priority here must be the well-being of your child. Your child must have a safe, nurturing home. No matter how much your husband loves this dog, your child's safety and happiness MUST always come first. This is non-negotiable. Either your husband seriously gets on board with managing and training his dog, or the dog goes to live with his parents. (Personally, I prefer rehoming the dog.)

Secondly, I really think you need to come to an understanding with your husband on how to teach, nurture, and discipline your toddler. It concerns me that his go-to strategy for disciplining your son is to yell at him. Your son is one and a half years ago. Your husband clearly needs better parenting techniques. Again, you're the mom and you need to make sure that your child's well-being is your first priority.

I hope that you and your husband can begin working together as a team. You need to come together to solve the issues that come between you and to create a loving, nurturing, stable home for your child. I hope that your husband will be open to counseling. I think it would be of great help. Good luck!
 

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The dog snaps at my son all the time, and has bitten me once (no broken skin). She doesn't like being petted on her back, even if done gently. At the park my husband lets little children pet the dog, and she is stiff as a board the whole time usually. This past weekend, a 1.5 year old child leaned on her tail and the dog snarled viciously and snapped at her.



For the most part, my son is very gentle with the dog. It's not like she snaps when she's being hurt. It's anytime she's being touched and she doesn't want it. I was bitten by her when I picked her up, after she had gotten loose and was running in the road. If you hold her by the collar, she bites. If you need to move her, she snaps.
This sticks out in my mind as a dog that might be in pain.........doesn't like to be touched or picked up?
Have you addressed this first, by having a thorough Vet exam done?
Touching her back might be something that is painful, and perhaps needs to be checked out before blaming it all on behavioral issues....
In the meantime keep your son away from the dog ...perhaps babygate a room where the dog is safe from the toddler.......and vice versa!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hi Shortydog,

I'm writing this as a mother and a wife. Your first priority here must be the well-being of your child. Your child must have a safe, nurturing home. No matter how much your husband loves this dog, your child's safety and happiness MUST always come first. This is non-negotiable. Either your husband seriously gets on board with managing and training his dog, or the dog goes to live with his parents. (Personally, I prefer rehoming the dog.)

Secondly, I really think you need to come to an understanding with your husband on how to teach, nurture, and discipline your toddler. It concerns me that his go-to strategy for disciplining your son is to yell at him. Your son is one and a half years ago. Your husband clearly needs better parenting techniques. Again, you're the mom and you need to make sure that your child's well-being is your first priority.

I hope that you and your husband can begin working together as a team. You need to come together to solve the issues that come between you and to create a loving, nurturing, stable home for your child. I hope that your husband will be open to counseling. I think it would be of great help. Good luck!
My son is 2.5 years old. The 1.5 year old was someone at the park.

And, yes, I prefer rehoming as well. I am not confident the dog can change so drastically to suddenly have a temperament good for children. I also just don't think the circumstances of our new life make her happy anyway. As I said to my husband, even if we can train her to be in a crate or in the yard when we're home, what kind of life is that for her? Trying to appeal to his love for the dog.

Thank you for your words and I hope the same as well.
 

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I really think LuvMyFluff might be on to something. Please have a vet examine your husband's dog and see if pain is causing the grumpiness.
 

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The dog is a danger to anyone living in your house (your child especially). You have to keep your child safe first.
 
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