17 answers

Jealous Pets

I was hoping to get some advice from moms who have had a similar situation as me. My husband and I are animal lovers. We have two dogs and two cats who have been our babies since we adopted our first dog about 6 years ago. We now have our 3 month old son in the mix, who they absolutely adore. It is clear that they see him as alpha to them, but now it appears that my youngest dog is fighting for second-best stature. They were sitting next to me and I happened to reach out and pet the older one and the younger dog attacked him! It breaks my heart because the youngest, Meeko, has always been so gentle and loving. It is clear that the two dogs have made up and they are back to playing, etc, but I'm nervous about the baby now. My husband has made an appointment to get Meeko neutered - Mikey was already neutered, but we were considering breeding Meeko. I just don't trust Meeko right now...no matter how loving he has been toward the baby. I don't want to get rid of him, but I will not let him hurt my son. He's not allowed around anymore when the baby is in jumper or doing floor time...anything that he can have access to him. Will the neutering fix the problem?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone who responded with great advice about my dogs...I keep re-reading all the responses to make sure I haven't missed any of the great tips. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have everyone telling me to immediately get rid of the dog. We have, unfortunately, had two more fights since I posted, but luckily my husband was home for them, because each one is getting worse and I don't think I'd be able to seperate them myself anymore. The dogs have been kept seperate from each other and away from the baby...Meeko's appointment to get neutered is Saturday. Hopefully with that, and drastic behavior modification(I've been DVRing Dog Whisperer), we will be ok. Thanks again!

Featured Answers

Have you ever watched The Dog Whisperer on National Geographic channel? Cesar Millan has lots of suggestions in understanding dog psychology. He also has a couple books that can help.

I think everything will be fine. Neutering the dog will help definitely but its not going to be the solution totally. Supervision at all times with the animals and the baby are the number one thing. It takes time for people and animals to adjust to a new baby. Just remember that the pets were first so always give them praise for just being there.
Good luck and Congrats!

More Answers

Hey Tammi-
You've gotten some good advice. We have two dogs who were the prince and princess of the household (both fixed) before baby. Our son is now 16 months old and we've had no problems but some guidelines we follow are:
1. NEVER, EVER, leave the dogs alone with baby.
2. Pick up/give attention to baby before the dogs when entering a room, coming home for work, etc.
3. Make dogs lie down (submissive position) and let baby pet them, crawl on them, etc. (we have big dogs)

Basically, we do whatever we can to constantly reinforce that baby is above them in the pack. Our 80 pound dog will let the baby take a toy out of his mouth! They are always supervised and we have never had a problem but they are animals and I will never feel 100% confident that the baby would be safe alone with them.

Good Luck!

According to my vet, whether or not neutering will help with behavior depends on the age of the dog. If he is still young, then it will help because it will eliminate the hormone producing glands which lead to aggressive behavior. If he is already older though, he has already had the hormones coursing through his body for several years, and the aggressiveness is more of a learned behavior, and neutering won't necessarily eliminate the problem. My husband had his dog before we ever met, and never had him neutered. When we got married, the dog was five years old, and I thought he should be neutered but our vet said, by that age neutering him would not make a difference behaviorally for the reasons stated above. I think neutering is a good first step, but your dog may require some behavior modification as well. Talk to your vet, they will be able to advise you on the neutering based on his age.

I am So glad you are seeking advice instead of just "getting rid" of your pets to solve the problem. I would LOVE to alk with you more and maybe even come over to help you if you are in my area ( Orange Park, FL). Your dogs are definetly unsure of who and what is the pack leader in the home and are having some insecurity issues. This can easliy be resolved by taking over and a calm, stable, assertive pack leader, leaving ALL the pets as pack members, and all on equal ground. They need your cues to let them know that "you've got this under control". If they are slightly unsure if you can handle this pack, they will resort to fighting and stress to keep everyone in line. They don't need that burden, that's is for us, the humans to control for them, so they can relax and be dogs and in a stable home. PLEASE call me when you get a chance and if you want, I would be happy to come over one morning and maybe I can see little things that may help that you don't notice. My number is ###-###-####
PS, I am a service dog trainer, own two dogs ( one who is VERY pregnant and due anyday and three cats, three turtles, a hamster and a fish, plus 4 kids and daycare kids). Pack leadership keeps EVERYONE relaxed and calm when they know who is in charge and who will handle it all.

T.,
First, I'm very pleased to read that you're not just going to dump your dog because he got a little snippy. Too many parents, in my opinion, just get rid of their first "babies" simply because they don't want to take the time to work with them. My husband and I have 5 dogs (4 are around 100lbs and one is 10 pounds) as well as 3 cats. The jealousy issues started with ours as well when Teagen was first home. We had a behavior trainer come out to work with our pack. It worked wonders. I personally don't trust any dog with a baby so when our son is playing the dogs are either outside or in the other part of the house. The neutering idea is a good one as well. Just stick with it and everything will be fine. I highly recommend working with a trainer. Good luck!

I applaud you for keeping your pets. I had 2 cats and 3 dogs when my son was born (sadly some have passed on now) Children deserve the chance to grow up with animals. It makes them better people! I would though, get Meeko fixed. Remember, as much as they are our babies, a dog is a dog, and has instincts it was born with, and not being fixed makes them naturally more aggressive. Many people don't fix a pet for different reasons, I didn't want to do THAT to him, I was going to breed him, I wanted my kid to have a chance to see a birth, etc, when the reality is, there are many many many homeless animals in this country. Don't add to the problem! There is no reason to be a backyard breeder. You're not doing any one a favor, including the animal. Every animal born needs a home, and when people breed for the fun of it, it takes a home from another deserving animal who is, due to circumstances beyond his control, sitting in a shelter where he will most likely be euthanized.
That being said - yes, neutering will help with the situation. It will also make him a happier dog! And he will live longer! I know I have preached here but, as you can tell, this is a matter which is very near and dear to my heart.
You are a good person to keep you animals. Your son will thank you when he is older for giving him the chance to grow up with dogs and cats.
Good luck to you and your wonderful family.

Try watching the dog whisperer. You will get great methods that REALLY work!

The Humane Society has a FREE behavior hotline. You call and leave a message explaining what is happening and a pet specialist will call you back and help you out. I was having some problems with my fur babies when my second child was born. The person I spoke with was wonderful and the situation settled itself. Here is the info from their website
PET BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS? HERE'S HELP! If you're having a behavior problem with your dog or cat, the HSBC also has a free Pet Behavior Helpline that addresses some of the most common pet problems. Litter box issues, scratching housebreaking, destructive behavior, and other topics are addressed on the Pet Behavior Helpline. Simply call ###-###-#### and listen to messages. If you need additional help you can leave a message at the end of the session. The Humane Society of Broward County wants to help you keep your pet in your home. While it can be frustrating dealing with pet behavior issues, they can be worked out with a time, patience, and training. Good luck!

I think everything will be fine. Neutering the dog will help definitely but its not going to be the solution totally. Supervision at all times with the animals and the baby are the number one thing. It takes time for people and animals to adjust to a new baby. Just remember that the pets were first so always give them praise for just being there.
Good luck and Congrats!

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