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Old 05-08-2013, 11:05 AM
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skittledoo skittledoo is offline
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Unhappy Dealing with Bamm and kids

I have an honest question and I'd really like to be able to post about this without judgment.

Josh and I have been off and on talking about kids for a while. He is 27 and I'm almost 27 (in August). I don't want to wait too long to start having kids (we want one or two) especially since fertility issues tend to be quite common in my family it seems. Mainly PCOS. I've been trying to lose the weight and it's been up and down, but losing the weight should hopefully help make it easier to conceive. We haven't been using any protection for a few years.

Anyways... the big thing that keeps popping up in my head is Bamm. When I got him I wasn't even thinking about kids and he had been ok around the few older kids I had introduced him to so I wasn't aware that he can tend to be iffy around kids. He seems to do ok around most older kids... I'm talking like 7ish and up provided they aren't rowdy kids. The biggest things that tend to set him off with kids are sudden movements, a kid falling, loud noises or if they are walking towards him or past him. But even then sometimes he will react and sometimes he wont so there has to be another common denominator that I'm failing to notice right?

I want more than anything for us to be able to have a kid within the next year or two and Bamm still live with us and everything be peaceful... but I'm worried how the reality of things might go. I don't think I could trust him around an infant and at the same time I don't think keeping him crated up or penned up somewhere away from the baby and rest of the family is any quality of life to live and I love him too much to do that to him. I don't want to be one of those people that "oh I just had a baby so I'm going to get rid of or kill my dog," but at the same time I feel like keeping him around a baby would be disastrous in the long run and I feel like he would be constantly stressed out.

I know I don't have to make a decision right now. I'm not even remotely pregnant, but eventually we might be faced with decisions and right now the thought of having to make a decision that might result in me losing him one way or another... it just hurts.

Some people have mentioned "why can't you just wait to have a kid until he passes on?"... umm... he's 7. He could easily live another 7 plus more years.

He has bitten people which makes rehoming him difficult if not irresponsible. I guess I could rehome him if it was to a trainer that I trust that knows his background but I worry about the risks and if he did bite someone it would fall back on me. Putting him to sleep would probably be the kinder response, but the idea of doing so just makes me feel like a failure to him.

I guess my question is... what would you do if you were in my situation? I know there are quite a few chazzers that don't ever want kids... but... if you did and you were in my position what would you do? I'm not asking for anyone to tell me what to do... just trying to get input and perspectives.

Is there a way to safely work on his reaction to kids? I don't want to put someone else's kids in any kind of potential danger so I don't know how to even go about training him further in this area. I really think there has to be some sort of common denominator I'm missing... or maybe I just need to accept the fact that he is never going to be kid friendly... or even kid tolerable at best. His threshold is SUPER low when it comes to kids which is why I don't allow him around kids. We've worked on him looking to me when he sees a dog, kid, adult for years and he still doesn't get it. He will do it sometimes and I reward reward and make a party out of it to try to show him that's what I want, but when he gets focused on something he will. not. look. away. and he gets that hard stare going. In that case I just have to manage it and walk away from whatever is catching his attention. We've done click to calm and it helps to some degree. It might be helpful one day, but then the next day no amount of click to calm work will ease his anxiety. It doesn't help that I have serious issues with anxiety disorder myself and even the last trainer that worked with him (who is a friend of mine too) said that he thinks that Bamm feeds off of my anxiety a lot.

I'm just stumped right now. Like I said, not making decisions right now regarding him, but... oy.

The reason I'm bringing all this up is because today I was walking him for his morning potty. My landlord's grandson's are visiting (ages 2 and 4 I think). The boys were playing with a basketball in the driveway and I was standing in the grass with Bamm and talking to my landlord's daughter inlaw because she happened to drive up and was asking me how things are going. Bamm was looking over at the kids, but he wasn't really tensed up. He'd look at the kids for a minute and then look over at a nearby bush or whatever. I didn't have treats on me but when he looked away from the kids I told him what a good boy he was and he wagged his tail and looked for the most part really relaxed and normal. Then the basketball bounced past us and the 2 year old went to grab the ball. My leash was still nice and loose but then he lunged at the end of the leash barking and growling at the little kid. Thankfully he was muzzled (I knew there are kids at the house) and the kid was still nowhere near in reach, but I was really unhappy about it.

So again... I'm not asking what you guys think I should do and I'm not making any decisions right now... what I am asking for is what you would do if Bamm was your dog and if you were at a point in your life where kids might soon become a reality.

Outside of this he really is a good dog. He is still dog reactive even though he is doing much better, but I can live with a DR dog... been doing so for years and we have worked hard to even get to the point we are at now. Years ago I couldn't even walk him in the same park where another dog was. Just the other day we went hiking with 9 OTHER dogs and had zero issues. What I have a harder time dealing with is him being a constant bite risk with people. He does REALLY well at my work and anyone there seems to be able to handle him with no issues, but out in the real world he is more difficult. If it was easier to predict what his triggers are it would be easier to manage I think. Kids are a little easier to predict when he might trigger than adults.

I wish I knew else how to explain how uncomfortable it is when he starts getting all weird about people. Nolu might be able to help out on this one. He was fine with her and knew her VERRRRRYYYY well and even still sometimes he'd get a little sketchy around her. He gets like that sometimes around my husband too when half the time he chooses to hang out with my husband over hanging out with me nowadays.

One time Bamm was lying down and Josh was sitting on the couch. Josh stood up to walk into the kitchen to make food. As soon as he started walking to go into the kitchen Bamm jumped up and went after him growling. He didn't try to bite Josh, but he stood there growling. From what I remember Josh was calm when he stood up and calm when he started walking towards the kitchen. There was nothing alarming about the way Josh stood up that caused me to understand why Bamm did that. But then 5 minutes later Bamm was happy wagging his tail and begging Josh for food. This isn't a type of behavior that happens often with Bamm though. Just once in a while it's like something in his brain snaps... almost as if he is honestly mentally unstable.
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:25 AM
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I would HIGHLY reccomend working with a professional trainer on it NOW. He may never be able to live with kids but it's worth a shot. Bandit has a bite history from when he was much younger. He ripped open my friends arm and he still has a huge scar from it. Bandit has growled at Briggs twice (both times related to him having an ear infection) but he lives quite happily with children. He used to be very similar to Bamm by the sounds of it. When I got pregnant with Briggs I put a lot of work into getting him comfortable around children. Two and a half years later he has a baby and a toddler living with him full time and a 4 and 5 year old half time.

I would also think about what if he doesn't fit in with a family. I personally would not wait to have kids till a dog passed on. I would try my darn hardest to make it work but if push came to shove... my family would be coming first. I would rehome the dog if a family was that important to me. Or put him down if you were that concerned about his bite history. I know it may sound heartless but I am being honest.

With dogs like this I NEVER let him off leash around other people's kids outside. Ever. Even though I trust his recall. We see a kid I leash up. I put him away when the kids get too rowdy. I never let him out of my sight. He sends 99% of his time loose in the house but I am not against removing him if I can't watch him totally or feel he might be too stressed. Bandit isn't even noticably distressed to others but I jsut feel it and trust my instincts. So far its been easy to manage because I have an honest assessment of my dog.

Do you think Bamm has bad eye sight or hearing? I feel like Bandit's jumpyness lately/new found growling at other adults that aren't me may have something to do with his eye sight and I am getting him checked out.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:12 PM
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I'm sorry you're struggling with the issue in your head. I know that's gotta be just... SO hard. I really can't imagine, because Jackson was my first dog and he could've easily ended up being somewhat reactive/aggressive and at the time I got him (18), kids weren't (and still aren't) even in my mind. But I can't imagine coming to that decision and knowing your beloved dog may not be happy.

I don't have much advise, as I've never dealt with a human-reactive dog (well, my dads rescue is sort of...) BUT I will say... I think it's often different with your own kids vs. other peoples kids. Jackson is okay with strange kids in that I definitely trust him and if kids ask to pet him, I let them, etc, I've never sensed he would nip or bite in any way. But he's more nervous around kids he doesn't know (the running, rowdiness, rough housing type of kids make him a bit nervous) so I don't allow certain things simply out of precaution. I would never put him in a situation where he's uncomfortable and may feel a nip to protect himself. With that said, my little brother has a certain group of friends that always comes over and they can be pretty wild - lots of yelling, running, typical boy things, and he could care less anymore but that's because he knows the kids well. It just took him a few times.

But with my little sister and my little brother (now 5 and 9), he's always been fabulous. Extremely tolerant. He lets them do things to him that he would never allow strange kids to do (and I wouldn't allow it, anyway). When my mom was pregnant with my little sister, their dog Carmen was not a huge kid-fan, she wasn't aggressive but when Emma was born, omg, that dog loved her. She had laid with my mom every night while she was pregnant, and I think she just KNEW that she was a part of her. And she was very protective of Emma too when Carmen was still alive.

So basically, I think all you could do is try. When that time comes when you are pregnant, I'd just do everything you could possibly do to get Bamm used to baby things (maybe even get a baby doll, I know it's NOT the same, but something that cries... etc) and just see how he reacts to you holding it. And I know they always say bring home the baby's scent (something from the hospital) before you bring the baby home. I don't know how much that stuff actually works, but I think it's worth a shot. If you feel uneasy and feel like it's just not going to work, I don't think anyone will judge you. You have to protect your baby and as much as you love your dogs, they will come first. And I know you're not the type to have a dog and just "give it up" because a baby came.... You've progressed so far with Bamm throughout the years, you obviously love him very much.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:14 PM
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I agree with Paige.

Also, make sure you have a comfortable spot where he can be put that is away from the kids(a crate in the bedroom might not be "away" enough), and it'd be good if he had his own fenced off yard area.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:32 PM
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I can definitely get Bamm in to get checked out for his hearing and eyesight. He doesn't act like he really has bad hearing or eyesight, but never know until he is seen. Heck I will get him in to be checked out for whatever I possibly can because I love this crazy dog so **** much.

Brittany I've also wondered if he might be different with my own kids and who knows. Wont know really until the time comes though I want to work on this issue now before kids are even happening. The sooner I start working through this the better chance we might have with him.

My landlord's daughter lives upstairs and just had a baby a couple weeks ago. I wonder if they would let me periodically borrow some stuff that have baby smells on them to work on getting him used to the smells at least.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:53 PM
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While Bamm sounds maybe not as quite unstable as Milo is, they have extremely similar issues (reactive to things such as falling, rowdiness, etc...sometimes seemingly triggered by nothing, bite history...).

First thing, I'd call a behaviorist. It will be pretty costly. My parents spent $700 on a behaviorist for Milo. And then proceeded to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING he suggested. They think I should be doing what the behaviorist said to do and that will fix his issues, even if they do the exact opposite and pretty much encourage his behavior. But, I'm really confident that if I didn't live with my parents, and he wasn't a family dog, or everyone in the household was willing, he would be really capable of living around an infant with VERY close supervision and managing.

He hates his muzzle, right? It'd be a good idea to work on getting him used to wearing it around the house and actually enjoying it - or at least associating it with positive activities - feeding him meals through the muzzle, muzzling on walks, etc. and being "boring" when the muzzle comes off.

You'll never be able to trust him around an infant or baby (or older child, even). My guess is that since he's okay with other small animals (I think? Cats at least and smaller dogs?), he'd tolerate an infant, but once the baby starts walking or even crawling and trying to interact with him, issues might arise. Management such as only allowing him around the baby when two adults are present, and possibly leashing him or muzzling him at all times around the baby, are possibilities. Baby gates will help.

In all honesty, I'm keeping the idea in my head that Milo very well might need to be euthanized when the baby is born. He is 100% not a candidate for rehoming...it sounds like Bamm might be able to go to a trainer or experienced adult-only home, even with his history. With an unstable dog, you sort of always have to be as emotionally prepared as possible for the worst. You can make tons and tons of sacrifices for your dog, but it's unrealistic to expect to put your life on hold. It doesn't sound like it'd be impossible to safely manage Bamm around a baby, especially if Josh is on board (all the adults in the household are willing to do what's necessary). But be prepared that you're going to have to do whatever it takes to keep your baby safe (and make sure Bamm has a decent quality of life) and that might mean making some tough decisions.
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:16 PM
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Does he have a rock solid leave it? Crate trained? He's going to also need a solid DROP IT and know a "go to your mat/bred/crate".
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:36 PM
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When I got pregnant, it was unexpected. I thought I was going to be the crazy dog lady my whole life and have only dogs and no kids. God had other plans lol

Now, I'm a married mom of a 10 month old and we're planning on having another here in the next few years.

Having a baby is completely consuming when they're an infant. My corgi had never been around kids, but thankfully it was love at first sight with the baby and frankly all the cardigans I've had around have been good with him with the exception of one who is not allowed in my house anymore.

Being a new mom...it's overwhelming. Wonderful, beautiful, amazing, but just totally crazy, too. You have to worry about breast feeding, day care, doctor bills and all of that is incredibly expensive.

I can't tell you what to do with a dog like Bamm. I can tell you for a fact that if any dog comes into my house and looks at my baby cross eyed, they won't be coming back. I don't have time to deal with rehabilitating bad temperament on top of having to raise a baby.

Most people who have project dogs do not have children. Those that do usually have older kids who are dog saavy.

I personally would not put the dog in a position where he is set up to fail when it's your baby's wellbeing on the line, but that was a decision I made when I got pregnant. Had my dog reacted badly, I would have had to give her back to her breeder. The baby has to come first. You can't rehome the baby.

If you're going to try to desensitize him to kids, spend that money now, because you will probably not have it once the baby comes. Between prenatal costs, the hospital costs of labor and delivery, and then the cost of formula, diapers, clothes they will outgrow every day, daycare, doctor visits (or if you're like us, the cost of surgery to get tubes in his ears) it is financially overwhelming.

I'm not saying it can't be done and I don't know y our exact situation. I'm just trying to give you things to think about and my personal opinion. If you love that dog and you're determined to keep him and make it work, then more power to you and maybe someone else can help you figure out how to desensitize him to kids with out a child being harmed.
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:44 PM
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Have you considered getting him a comfortable muzzle if you are worried about biting?
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Old 05-08-2013, 03:10 PM
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Thanks so much. He has a muzzle that he seems to be pretty comfortable with after going through multiple different types that he hated. I think its called a Baskerville ultra muzzle? It's a basket style muzzle and you can easily feed him treats with it which is what I like about it.

His stay isn't super solid, but I can work on that fairly easy. He does have a pretty solid drop it and leave it for the most part.

My other two are totally fine with kids. In fact, Cricket thinks that kids are the coolest thing ever and gets giddy whenever she sees kids and babies. She especially adores babies.

Bamm is fine with our cat and actually really likes cats... It's kids that are the issue. My boss is a behaviorist so I'm going to talk to her about it when I see her tomorrow. Not sure if I'll have her work with him or not though. She isn't a huge fan of Bamm at all especially since her first impression of him was him having a complete meltdown. She thinks he has a screw loose. She may be willing to work with him or she may recommend me to someone who would. I know one of the trainers at my work has worked with Bamm a little and does really like him. I'm not sure if he is an actual behaviorist, but he does tend to work with a lot of really troubled dogs/aggression cases/reactivity cases etc.
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Itztli- Standard size coated Xoloitzcuintle
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