If Tosca was a 5 year old child, whose nose was out of joint due to an incoming brother or sister, and were to similarly strike out though in a human way, would your husband's first thought be to get rid of her? I hope not! I assume you would both learn how to manage the problem long term so everyone can live peacefully. So why is a dog not afforded the same effort? And effort it will be!
Dogs have three key resources - in order of priority: food, shelter and social interaction. Food is obvious - anything the dog deems edible falls under this title, even days old road kill or what I call bunny buttons so never take it for granted that your dog will not find something unappetizing to you, appetizing and snap or bite to protect it. Shelter would include all the prime spots in the house to which they are accustomed (couch, bed, comfy chair) while examples of social interaction would be petting/cuddling by the owners, playing with another dog and/or the owners, etc. Despite what we think - our dogs do not love us quite as much as they love what we can provide - good food and comfy couches. While sad to hear, it is actually in our best interests that this be true - 'cuz if you can control the resources and you can usually control the dog.
Tosca has already shown resource guarding tendencies - growling when you moved her on the couch, growling at the nephew, etc. And while it is great that you are able to take rawhides away from her and/or her food bowl - it does not mean this translates to all humans having the same rights, esp. little humans and it does not mean she does not have the propensity for these kind of issues to continue to crop up. And while Tosca has shown remarkable bite inhibition, do not take it for granted she will continue to do so.
IMO, Tosca is treating Colton no differently then she would treat a new puppy added to the house. The exception being that you would have the puppy down on the same level as Tosca, you would be encouraging Tosca and the puppy to play and interact with each other while also knowing (and expecting) Tosca to eventually lose her patience with the pup and scold it at times, or air snap at the pup when/if the pup got to close to a prized possession. And Tosca would be well within her rights to do this; as the elder she has many lessons to teach the youngster about respect if they are to live harmoniously long term. It is when humans get involved between elder and pup that mixed messages crop up and wanna be alphas are created - but I digress.
The minute you got pregnant was the minute Tosca's life changed or should have changed. You should have been preparing her for the arrival of Colton and for the arrival of some major rule changes that must occur for pampered dogs and babies to co-exist with out overt risk to the baby. By preparing her I do not mean letting her smell the baby blankets or introducing her to other people's babies and toddlers. I mean teaching her deference (see below) exercises to show her her eventual and rightful place - at the bottom of the totem pole. Tough love really works wonders and spoiled dogs, while resistant at first, are much happier when they know their rightful role. Sadly most people fail to do this months before so it is a shock to the dog when the baby comes home and life as they know it, all the rules they have spent 5 years learning and mastering, immediately change and usually not for the better. Is it any wonder dogs seem resentful?
Is this an isolated incidence, a one time thing? IMO, no - as Colton gets older and more mobile and has the ability to actually invade Tosca's space - it could intensify if you do not get professional help as Kim suggested. Certainly if you, or your husband continue to handle it in the manner you did (scold her (well after the fact I might add) then put her outside) you will actually increase the odds that this will continue and will probably escalate to a bite which breaks skin. As Kim stated - NEVER correct growling. Growling is the dogs way of communicating that something is not right. Instead redirect and diffuse and never put yourself or Tosca in that position again.
Besides teaching Tosca deference the best thing you can learn to do is manage the situation. You seem overtly concerned about Colton's safety while forgetting or ignoring Tosca's, even putting Tosca in harms way. How? As we all should know - when it comes to a human vs dog altercation - esp. a child vs dog altercation no matter how minor the dog will ALWAYS lose, oftentimes with its life - that is not having the dog's safety in mind. The question begs - why was the dog put at risk? By that I mean - why do you have a prized possession (a rawhide) accessible to a toddling nephew who has no respect and certainly no concept of boundaries in the same room, or area, as the dog whose prized possession it is? You are asking for trouble. This is just an example of what you will need to be aware of and learn to manage if you truly desire to have Tosca be a future, permanent member of your family. Tosca relies on you to keep her safety in mind, just as you have Colton's and just like Colton she can not speak for herself and tell you what she needs or that she is uncomfortable etc. It is YOUR responsibility to see that she is never put in a position to be wrong or to fail. If she is - then YOU have failed her.
So you learn your dogs triggers, what does or does not work. Rawhides and other prized possessions (watch your dog to learn what they are - you might be surprised) are fed and enjoyed in the confines and safety of a nearby crate. Babies and toddlers are not allowed in the feeding area when a dog is getting fed, or they are fed crated as well and toddlers are taught to respect the dogs area. It is a two way street - esp. when the child gets older and more mobile - they too must learn what they can or can not do to the dog members of the family and that the dogs have toddler free areas to relax and 'let their hair down'.
Nursing time is not cuddle time with the dog. She needs to be on the floor or her mat or in her crate in the same room, as Lisa rec'ds enjoying something fun during this time, to create positive associations with Colton and to further bond her to him. A professional can give you further guidance.
How to teach deference via the Nothing in Life is Free:
Nothing In Life Is Free
Does your dog: Get on the furniture and refuse to get off? Nudge your hand, insisting on being petted or played with? Refuse to come when called? Defend its food bowl or toys from you? ?Nothing in life is free? can help. Nothing in life is free? is not a magic pill that will solve a specific behavior problem; rather it?s a way of living with your dog that will help it behave better because it trusts and accepts you as its leader and is confident knowing its place in your family.
How To Practice ?Nothing In Life Is Free:?
.... Using positive reinforcement methods, teach your dog a few commands and/or tricks. ?Sit,? ?Down? and ?Stay? are useful commands and ?Shake,? ?Speak? and ?Rollover? are fun tricks to teach your dog.
.... Once your dog knows a few commands, you can begin to practice ?nothing in life is free.? Before you give your dog anything (food, a treat, a walk, a pat on the head) it must first perform one of the commands it has learned.
YOU: Put your dog?s leash on to go for a walk YOUR DOG: Must sit until you?ve put the leash on
YOU: Feed your dog YOUR DOG:Must lie down and stay until you?ve put the bowl down
YOU: Play a game of fetch after work YOUR DOG: Must sit and shake hands each time you throw the toy
YOU: Rub your dog?s belly while watching TV YOUR DOG: Must lie down and rollover before being petted
.... Once you?ve given the command, don?t give your dog what it wants until it does what you want. If it refuses to perform the command, walk away, come back a few minutes later and start again. If your dog refuses to obey the command, be patient and remember that eventually it will have to obey your command in order to get what it wants.
.... Make sure your dog knows the command well and understands what you want before you begin practicing ?nothing in life is free.?
The Benefits of This Technique:
.... Most dogs assume a neutral or submissive role toward people, but some dogs will challenge their owners for dominance. Requiring a dominant dog to work for everything it wants is a safe and non-confrontational way to establish control.
.... Dogs who may never display aggressive behavior such as growling, snarling, or snapping, may still manage to manipulate you. These dogs may display affectionate, though ?pushy? behavior, such as nudging your hand to be petted or ?worming? its way on to the furniture in order to be close to you. This technique gently reminds the ?pushy? dog that it must abide by your rules.
.... Obeying commands helps build a fearful dog?s confidence; having a strong leader and knowing its place in the hierarchy helps to make the submissive dog feel more secure.
Why This Technique Works:
Animals that live in groups, like dogs, establish a social structure within the group called a dominance hierarchy. This dominance hierarchy serves to maintain order, reduce conflict and promote cooperation among pack members. In order for your home to be a safe and happy place for pets and people, it?s best that the humans in the household assume the highest positions in the dominance hierarchy. Practicing ?nothing in life is free? effectively and gently communicates to your dog that its position in the hierarchy is subordinate to yours.
From your dog?s point of view, children also have a place in this hierarchy. Because children are small and can get down on the dog?s level to play, dogs often consider them to be playmates, rather than superiors. With the supervision of an adult, it?s a good idea to encourage children in the household (aged eight and over) to also practice ?nothing in life is free? with your dog.
.. 1999 Dumb Friends League. All Rights Reserved. NILI_R99
It takes a special family, IMO, to face adversity head on and overcome it - much easier to just jump ship and start over though the results usually end up the same as nothing has been learned/gained by taking the easy way.
Sadly, responses like your husbands is a key reason I no longer place dogs with families planning children or families with small children.