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XP: Dog Trainer for the Home? (long)

I know I have seen recs on here before for a dog trainer in the home, but of course can't find 'em when I need 'em!  I didn't even want to put this out here but I am desperate now and need help.  Ugh, we haven't even told our family yet what has happened. 

Some background first...Ever since we started preparing for DD to be born, our first baby (our furbaby) has been awful.  Baxter is a 5 year old shih tzu male who is incredibly devoted to me, even though DH is his primary caretaker since he always takes him out, feeds him, etc.  Baxter is also very stubborn and I truly believe he thinks that the order in the house goes me, him, DH, then DD....which is completely wrong.  Before DD was even born, he would pee on anything we set up for DD, pack n play, bouncer, etc.  He still goes in the house from time to time, despite the fact that he has always had someone home with him and given lots of walks since last March since I was on maternity leave, then my Mom stayed with us for the summer and finally, DH was laid off and is still unemployed now.  In the last several months, Baxter has gotten increasingly more difficult to deal with.  It's true, I haven't been able to devote as much time to him as I would like.  I am working two jobs to keep the money coming in and a new baby at home certainly keeps us busy.  Baxter has started growling and snarling at DH whenever DH comes near me or wants to pick Baxter up and Baxter is near me.  He won't listen to DH's commands anymore, despite treats or incentives.  He has now bit DH several times when DH has picked him up.  Most recently, DH was just sitting on the ground and Baxter growled at him and then jumped on him and bit him, completely unprovoked.

Our daughter loves Baxter very much.  She squeels when she sees him and does the baby sign for dog we have whenever we say dog or she wants to see him.  It's also true that at one point, DD did pull or love on Baxter too much and we had to put a stop to it by keeping them away from each other, just within eye sight.  We have worked very hard with DD on nice touch and she will pet him nicely and hug him now.  She is twice his size now (He is about 11 lbs).  We want them to have a good relationship and for her not to fear animals. 

Fast forward to last night.  I was stuck at work late and called DH driving home and he picked up in a panic voice.  He said that Baxter had gone after Amelia and bit her face in two places and she was bleeding heavily and crying/howling.  Apparently DD was on the floor and hugged Baxter, also on the floor.  Baxter did not growl or anything, whipped around and bit her.  I told him to take her to patient first since we live very close to it and the pedi office was closed.  I met them there and completely lost it when I saw her, as in the nurse had to escort me out of the room as I was hysterical and clearly upsetting DD even more.  So then I feel like a crappy mother and cry even more.  Ugh.  The doctor then sent us to GBMC ER to get assessed since it was an animal bite.  Luckily, DD and Baxter all are caught up on their shots.  We proceed to spend the next several hours in the ER and luckily, they decided not to do stitches since the bites did not go through the inside of DD's mouth.  We have her on antibiotics for risk of infection and will be cleaning the wounds three times a day with soap and water and bacitracin and then aloe.   

So here we are now.  I don't want to wait for something else to happen and I am not asking to get rid of Baxter.  DD appears to be fine now with Baxter and is not scared of him, thank goodness.  I don't want to keep her away from him.  I want to help foster her love of animals and his acceptance of the new addition in our house.  Does anyone have a rec for someone to come into our home to work with us?  We live in Perry Hall and cost is not a problem...we will make it work.  TIA! 

Lilypie Second Birthday tickers image

Re: XP: Dog Trainer for the Home? (long)

  • Oh honey, I am so sorry that you and your family are going through this. I cannot imagine how terrifying that was for everyone. Poor little Amelia :(

    First, little Mr. Baxter needs to go to the vet to rule out any possible ouchies or medical conditions that might be making him a cranky little monster. I am sure that Link or NDM can help you with a behavorist reccomendation for Baxter.

    I know you want to foster a good relationship between Baxter and Amelia, but for the time being NO baby/dog on the floor interactions. Keep them seperated. If you haven't posted on pets yet, page Pittieboo she is great with the kid/dog advice. She has had lots of experience and is very understanding in these situations. Baxter sounds like he needs some doggy boot camp. Lots of people swear by NILF (Nothing in Life is Free). Basically it means that the dog has to work for everything. They want to go out, they need to sit first. Food, same thing. You can use different commands, but they have to work for everything, including attention. He should never go through a doorway before DD, or another human. He doesn't get on furniture without being invited, you get the picture.

    Again, I am so so so sorry you are going through this. Lots of T&P's that sweet girl heals quickly and Mr. Baxter loses his 'tude.

  • I'm so sorry that happened.  I hope that your daughter continues to recover quickly.  I'm also very happy that you are seeking help to improve the situation.  I obviously don't have kids but I have had my dog around kids and babies and it's important to realize that supervision is key.  I'm not saying that they aren't supervised, but dogs can have a difficult time understanding babies and knowing that they are humans since they behave so differently, especially when they are crawling and on the floor.  Hugs especially can be uncomfortable for dogs, even if it's something that you can do with your dog, other people, especially a child, should not do that.  You really want a certified behaviorist not a trainer to help you communicate to Baxter and understand his language.  I also think it's really smart how you want to make sure that your daughter has a good relationship with him too, it works both ways to train and teach both them.

    I know that there are several mom on the pets board who have also had incidents and may be able to offer their advice (if you don't to post there, I can have them pm you if you prefer).  Like Mary said, PittieBoo is very helpful and has been there.

    My sweet boy
  • Thanks ladies.  I am so anxious to get some help in the home now.  We did tell family members this morning and reactions we got were (from two members that have shih tzus too!):  "what happens when you have another child?", "how would you forgive yourself if something happens again or worse?", "you need to get rid of him", "we will take him".  So I did tell them that while I will keep them separated for now, I really want to consult a professional on the matter to see what we can do.  I can't imagine not living with Baxter.  I do want a professional to assess our situation and work with us, to also let us know if yes, Baxter can be rehabilitated with living with us or no, he should live with another family member at this time.  I plan on taking off of my night job for a temporary leave of absence so I can be home during the interventions as well.

    Both of your responses are so very helpful...really, they are.  I do think the NILF training sounds like something we need.  We have started with the no furniture rule and sitting to go out, but I never thought about the food part...definitely will do that.  Keeping them separated for now while Amelia is up and on the floor is also important and we will do that.  Mary, my mom suggested that Baxter may have something medically wrong as well.  He does drink a lot and pee a lot so she was thinking maybe diabetes?  He did have his annual vet exam in Oct and all was good.  He also had an infected wart found on his chin in late Dec and had to be put under in order to remove it and had stitches then.  We will definitely make another vet appt to maybe draw some blood or assess further.  Link, I would love it if the person you mentioned could PM me.  I almost never post on national boards anymore and just feel more comfortable here.  I will also look at the link you posted for the certified behaviorists.  Thank you!

    Lilypie Second Birthday tickers image
  • I will probably get flamed for this but my opinion is that the safety of my child comes first. You have dealt with his behavior for quite some time and he has now not only bit your daughter but badly enough that she had to go to the hospital.

     Personally, I would not take the chance to have this happen again, as much as I may love my pet. My child will always be first. If this was me, I would find a new home for the dog.


    Flame away


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    <img src=" width="185" height="280">


    <A HREF="">My Receipe Blog</A>
  • I'm heading out now but I will absolutely get some info from them and have them PM you.

    I think separating at this time is a good idea to maintain safety.  Like Mary said, we practice NILF for many things (although not furniture) and I think it does help.

    I had the same thought that you should get Baxter checked out medically.  I would schedule a vet appt and run bloodwork in addition to meeting with a behaviorist.  

    Again, I'm so sorry you are going through this.

    My sweet boy
  • I replied to your Bump post with a behaviorist my vet highly recommended (and she is a certified animal behaviorist).  Hope that this helps!
    Visit The Nest! image Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • Check your PMs, there should be one.
    My sweet boy
  • @Cali- Thank you...I just emailed your rec to see if she would travel to us or if she has anyone in the area.  I have emailed three others recs off of the IAABC site (all in Columbia) and so far one has written back and stated she would not come out because he bit and has a history of biting now.  She referred us to Dr. Marsha Reich in Rockville, a vetinary behaviorist, who I will call tomorrow as well.

    @Link- Thank you so much for sending PittieBoo to PM me.  She had lots of other helpful advice for us to start doing now as well and was very reassuring.  She seems very knowledgable with her first hand experiences.

    This whole experience makes me very sad and sick to my stomach. I knew I could come here and get some good recs fast from our passionate pet people on this board to help.  So thank you ladies!

    Lilypie Second Birthday tickers image
  • I'm glad that you are already getting responses from the behaviorists.  I hope things go well with the vet behaviorist that should be able to test him for medical issues as well.
    My sweet boy
  • Oh no, what an awful situation! No real recommendations but just wanted to say that I'm sorry about what is happening with Baxter, I hope someone can help you out!
    Lilypie First Birthday tickers
  • I don't have any reeks, but when we first found our dog we had to get a bahaviorist and he worked wonders. I'm so sorry your family is going through this, it sounds like you have a ton on your plate and I hope you can find a solution that works for all of you soon. Hugs to you and you DD.
    Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickersLilypie First Birthday tickers
  • PittieBoo wanted me to tell you that you have another PM.  Also for more recs on behaviorists (although I hope the vet behaviorist got back to you), here is a list of Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists, there are several in Maryland when I searched the list.
    My sweet boy
  • Thanks everyone for your support!

    @Link- I just snuck on at work and I did PM Pittieboo back?she should become a certified behaviorist.  Lots of helpful advice! I tried to click on the link you just listed but my work computer is having problems with it so I will look at home.  I have cancelled all my night work for the time being (I work in private practice at night) and am dedicated to working with making changes to our household.  We have them separated now and give Baxter a kong with peanut butter when isolated behind baby gates.  When DD naps or goes to sleep, Baxter comes out.  We will def keep the leash on him at all times now, except bed, and will no longer pick him up to transport.  I have contacted all three certified behaviorists on the IAABC website for our area and one does not do it anymore and one is the one that said she wouldn't come out, but rec a behaviorist vet that only does house consults now.  She is well over an hour away from us but I did leave her a message.  On her voicemail, she also recommends another behaviorist vet still far away and I contacted and left her a message.  I also left a message for a university animal behaviorist clinic (U of Penn), as rec by this vet, to discuss over the phone and gain any local recs.  I got one positive email back from a certified behaviorist that Cali sent that is another hour away but she said she might be willing to come. I have a friend emailing another friend for a rec she used in her home with similar problems in Towson.  I checked out the website of the woman you sent to PittieBoo and emailed the woman but she is not taking on new clients right now.  I have asked her for any more recs we can use.   Baxter is going to the vet today for bloodwork and Amelia is going to the pedi for a follow up visit so we are trying to cover all the bases.  Thanks again for the help and I will be sure to update when we get someone into our home!

    Lilypie Second Birthday tickers image
  • I think you have GREAT advice already. I just wanted to say thank you for working so hard to resolve this issue. That must have been so scary. Unfortunately, as I'm sure you know, a dog that has bitten a child probably won't find another home. Baxter is lucky to have a family like yours!
    TTC since May 2010
  • Thanks for the update.  It sounds like you are really doing the right things now to protect everyone and get Baxter checked out.  I hope that a behaviorist gets back to you soon and can continue the process of improving things for all of you.  I hope that Amelia is healing well too.
    My sweet boy
  • Thank you for the update- I hope that you find a behaviorist soon!!! Hopefully the rec I sent over, or another, will work out asap for you and your family. It sounds like you are keeping everyone safe and happy for now!

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