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Advice, Opinions, etc about evil Uncle Harry and the new baby....

As many of you know, Uncle Harry, my oldest dog, is somewhat evil and has a tendency to bite.  He bit Andy last week on the hand - granted, Andy startled him by sticking his finger in his ear (he claims we was just trying to help him itch it) but it was pretty bad - it was all swollen and bled for quite a long time.  He bit me on the nose several years ago (totally my fault - I had been drinking and was all up in his face) - so we've always been fairly cautious around him - no sudden movements, don't get in his face, etc.

But now that we are having a baby, I'm TERRIFIED!  I'm part of a baby forum, so I was looking up similar situations - and of course, most of the suggestions were to get rid of the dog.  Well, that's not an option.  But I don't know what else to do.  I don't see that any type of training would help....he's old and hates most people....if living with us for 5 years hasn't gotten him over his fear of people, I don't know what will. 

My only thought is to keep baby and dog separated at all times, which would be exhausting....
I guess I'm hoping by that some miracle, one of you has some wonderful suggestion that I haven't even thought of....I've even gone as far as wondering if his canine teeth could be removed - awful, I know, but so would having to put him to sleep for ripping the babies face off - this is how my mindis working right now.....I should probably stop typing...

1) Yes, stop typing and take a break, do whatever you must to derail that train of thought, it leads nowhere good.

2) Begin designating a 'No Harry zone' (like the baby's room) right now!! So when the baby comes, he won't be surprised, and you won't have to worry about training him whilst being sleep deprived.

There are plenty of horror stories when it comes to hostile animals and baby human animals, don't read too much of them (for both yours and Andy's sanity). There are also stories of children and babies being the 'miracle' social link for previously hostile animals. They are fewer, but I've witnessed a few, they do happen.

Things parents I know have done to help baby - pet relationship go smoothly:

Designate specific spots or areas for each before the baby comes, this gives the animal security in knowing they have their spot, and they know another spot is the 'off zone' (this could get entertaining when dirty diapers enter the picture, fyi)

Talk to the animal about the baby.

Take a favored toy from home to the hospital (clean it first), and put it with the baby the first night. Bring it home to introduce the animal to the smell of the new family member.

Only allow interaction between animal and baby when able to supervise and intervene when/if necessary. Never leave the two alone with eachother.

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Wow, that's a tough spot you're in! The above suggestions are great though, having the dog sniff something with the baby's scent will definitely help. And yes you do hear a lot of horror stories about this, but you also hear heartwarming stories about the child and dog being bonded for life and the dog being the child's protector. I guess you'll really just have to wait it out and see how everything goes. Sorry you're in such a pickle!

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My baby is two months old and so far my dog has been great with him.  She seems to tolerate him more than other dogs, that's for sure.  You might try picking up a book called 'There's a Baby in the House' by Mike Wombacher that was recommended to my by my chiropractor when I had some fears.  You may find something in there that would help out. 

I also called Invisible Fence and paid for in-home training for my dog while I was pregnant.  I found it was cheaper there than anywhere else.  It included a plug-in device that works with her invisible fence collar to deter her from entering an area (we have it in the room where the cat's food and litter boxes are).  Even without an invisible fence, you can buy the collars separately.  It might be worth looking into so you could set up a 'no Uncle Harry space', like the nursery.  We don't even have the thing plugged in anymore, but the dog won't go near that room.

Lastly, the idea of getting the dog used to the smell is terrific.  My midwife suggested taking one of the baby's receiving blankets that we used and give it to the dog.  You could try that if you don't want to sanitize a dog toy.

And of course, just as hanashi said, never leave them together unsupervised.  Even though my dog loves the baby, we always kick her out of the room if we leave the baby unattended for some reason.

No matter how much you try to prepare, you're really just going to have to wait and see how the dog reacts. 

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Also, child gates can be your best friend here.  Since Harry is older, I doubt he'll launch himself over or through them.  We plan to bring something home that smells like the baby before the baby actually comes home.  Of course, even though Bella is fabulous and loves all babies/kids she has encountered thus far we will NOT leave them alone together.

I understand your fears.  You will figure something out.  It just seems overwhelming right now.

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Thanks, guys.  I was kinda freaking out last night, mainly due to my dad being an ass about it and making me more afraid than I probably need to be right now.  It probably won't be an issue until the baby becomes mobile, and then, I'll just have to deal with it.  We already have a baby gate to keep the dogs out of our bedroom (since Jonah isn't allowed on the bed anymore) and there's a half door that separates the kitchen from the family room - I think we'll be ok.  I'll just have to pay attention.  Harry's really a great dog considering his rough upbringing, you just can't trust him 100%.

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i agree with the fence idea... just fence the dog in a separate area... my chihuahua mason (similar mannerism it sounds like) i can totally see biting my baby (when/if i have one of course)... so this will be something i have to deal with as well...

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When you have a new baby, you have to pay attention to it all the time anyway, right?! so i'm sure you'll be right there to keep 'em separate/ intervene with preventative measures to ensure peace... just be sure if you have a babysitter or family member helping out, they fully understand the potential problem & the separation rules. The issue won't be with a newborn so much as with a toddler or preschooler, who does things ON ITS OWN that could aggravate Harry; so you have some time to get a system worked out, to make sure opportunities for problems are unavailable. Where there's a will, there's a way; I'm sure it can be arranged so everyone's safe & happy, it just will take some consistent attention & adaptive strategerie...

...When i was born, all the little old church ladies scared my mom to death about how (now that there was a baby in the house) she'd have to get rid of the (much- loved) cat, since it was sure to scratch me & bite me & smother me in my sleep(!)... instead that cat thought SHE was my mom, or at least my nanny, and came running to do silly antics & nuzzle me when I hurt myself, keep an eye on me & hiss at other kids that (she felt) were playing to rough, and even lunge in full tooth&claw fury at dogs who playfully jumped on me (once, 2 huge weimeraners!) 'cause she thought I was under attack... so... like so many things, a lot of the time, people just don't know what they're talking about.

You'll work it out!  :)

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I know this is an old-ish thread, but I have a few suggestions....

First of all, I agree with everything else that's been said.  I just want to add...

1) Make sure you keep Harry included.  He's more likely to be aggressive towards the baby if he resents it.  So talk to him or pat him while you're holding the baby (or at least while the baby is in the room) so he realizes that you're not going to ignore him just because there's a new baby in the house.  Also, praise him or give him a treat when he's behaving well around the baby.

2) This is probably really obvious, but start teaching the baby really early on about how to behave around dogs.  Vincent knows how to give a "nice pat" or a "nice cuddle" to Hugo, and I praise them both when they're being nice to each other.

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Thanks, pg!  We're definitely still concerned - his most recent vet appt was a nightmare and now we have the vet working on finding us a solution....I should post about it in the pet thread....

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