I have two dogs. I've had both for years and love them dearly. One of them is a 13 year old terrier mix I've had for well...13 years. She went everywhere with me for years and has been very much loved and cared for all her life.
Before LO arrived I moved her from my bedroom, where her bed was, to the corridor right outside my bedroom where the other dog slept. She settled there no problem and has slept there since. She still goes for walks, is cuddled, petted and loved. I should probably mention that she's a rescue dog and despite having a very good life with us for most of her time on this earth, she still has some fear-stress reactions to normal everyday things. For the most part this is not an issue.
When LO arrived she kind of went into what seemed like a depression. She was very quiet, didn't want to be petted or talked to and spent most of the day as far away from me and LO as possible by choice (i.e. she would practically run away from us and stay in the attic all day, not in a fearful way though).
I've since tried to include her more in things I do with LO, taking her out on walks with us etc. This only seems to make things worse though and lately she's just so stressed I'm starting to worry a little bit. She now spends half the day either barking at me or frantically panting at me (for no reason, I mean this is after she's been fed/walked/watered/petted etc) and when I go into my bedroom she'll sit outside and pant and cry and bark for as long as I'm in there. Telling her "no" has no effect whatsoever on the behaviour nor does increasing the time I spend with her etc. What I'm kind of worried about is that she's now started crying and panting and barking outside the door even when LO is in the bedroom without me. She'll also bark at me whenever she sees me holding LO (not in an aggressive way, but not in a playful one either). I just don't understand this behaviour.
I took both dogs to the vet for their annual booster shots a couple of days ago and she asked me how they are with the baby. When I described the dog's behaviour the vet said that it sounds like she's really jealous of LO and that that's really dangerous.... I'm now petrified. I in no way want to ever do anything to endager LO, but I don't want to give the dog away if she's not a danger to the chid...
I care deeply about the dog and love LO to bits of course so I realise I'm not the most objective person in the world when it comes to this issue, so I thought I'd post here and ask what you all thought of the dog's behaviour?!?!? Does it sound like jealousy to you? Or fear? Or?
No, no she's never growled at LO, but she has barked at me when I'm holding LO and continued barking until we're out of her line of sight. This isn't an always thing, it's mostly when we exit the bedroom (the one she sits outside of panting and barking and crying).
Yeah, that does sound to me like anxiety. I'm not sure dogs can get jealous as such, they just fear being cast out and are trying to defend their 'territory'. The panting especially is a stress response.
I totally understand that you don't want to rehome unless you have to, but it's definitely not safe to have her around LO. Rehoming at this age would also be very stressful on the dog, so might not even work very well for her.
I think you have three options:
1. Retrain. Get a dog behaviouralist in to assess the situation and help you manage it through behaviour modification and helping ease your dog's anxieties.
2. Separate. Some people do have dogs that are not allowed to interact with their children except under supervision. If you are childproofing your house, you could also dogproof certain areas where the dog can live but the child can't get to. I don't mean this in a harsh way but your dog is old and might not be around for too many more years, so this is a more manageable option for you than for someone whose dog is only a few years old.
3. Rehome. If the dog's anxieties can't be improved with a few months of training, and separating the dog and baby isn't feasible long-term, I think this is your only safe option.
I'm sorry you're going through this, it's really hard to make a choice when you love your dog but don't feel it's safe around your children.
Edit: I should add that you may find with a combination of training and temporary separation through childproofing, the situation may improve and you might not have to keep them separated forever. My dogs were a bit anxious about LO after he arrived, but as the months have gone on, they have relaxed more and more and now treat him like a piece of the furniture.
It is possible that she will move on from this. My dog has never been a massive fan of lo as she was the centre of everyones attention for 3 years before isaac came along. She is also a rescue dog and can be very wary but in the last month or so has started to settle again. She has spent most of the last 7 months hiding under my bed but now Isaac is eating she is making friends, mainly at meal times but its progress. Obviously for now seperation may be the best option as you dont want to risk anything but i would give a bit more time before rehoming considering the age of the dog.
I'm not sure I would rehome at 13, would that be any less stressful? I agree with trying a behaviourist. Vets can be well meaning but don't really deal with the problem you're having so I'd seek out a professional.
The panting is anxiety, we had a dog who reacted in a similar way when we went out. The vet gave us this thing we plugged in which was supposed to have a calming effect. It did nothing for our little nutter but my understanding is it does work for some. I wish I could remember what it was called. That could be worth a try just to see if it has a calming effect on your dog?
My parents dog reacted like this when LO was born........ Now at 8 months, the dog pretty much goes about her usual business and occasionally sniffs my LO's toes........ But it hasn't been as issue really. She used to bark a lot particularly if he cried!
Also, my dog used to run away and hide any time LO cried - now LO is the first she greets when we come in the door and she's always checking up on him (nudging his feet etc...)
It's such a shock for the dogs when something new arrives on the scene (creatures of habit) so a certain level of anxiety should be expected. I think you just need to give it time though I'm sure your dog will eventually get used to her place in the family now you have a baby!
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