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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 6350
Experience:  I have been a breeder and owner of dogs for over 40 years.
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I have an 8yr old dog and a 13 month old son. WHen I found

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I have an 8yr old dog and a 13 month old son. WHen I found out I was pregnant, I did all the "right" things to prepare my dog: reduced my time with him, restricted his access to the furniture and the nursery. I always supervise them together, but that is getting more difficult now that my son is walking. My dog has not had any meaningful interaction with kids in his life and seems alternately curious, unsure and sometimes too interested in my son. I'm trying to teach my son to be gentle, but for right now I am VERY ANXIOUS because I have a small house and the baby started walking. So my question is this: if I keep them totally separate will I be making the problem better or worse? WIll my dog come to see his side of the house as "his"? He tried to "hump" the baby when we were out in the yard the other day and I stepped between them. He ran away but then came back and laid down exposing his stomach. THe yard is kind of "his" territory. I love love love my dog, but I'm getting really anxious that I won't be able to handle this. Re homing is not an option but I'm scared for them both.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.

Hello Christine, I'm Dr. Deb and I'll do my best to help you today.

I think it's prudent for you to be cautious of your dog around your son if he's never been around children before.

I do have a few questions to ask about Wolfy's situation first, if you don't mind:

1. Is he crate trained?
2. Is he obedience trained?
3. Has he ever growled or shown aggression towards anyone?

There may be a delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you and I may be offline at the time you respond. But I'll get back to you as soon as I can since I'm on the computer some part of every day.

Thanks for your patience. Deb

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes, he is crate trained.


Yes, he completed obedience training as a puppy and is pretty reliable with commands except when excited.


He once growled at a stranger who approached me when we were out walking years ago. Aggression? my nephews teased him once when he was in his crate and he barked. My nephews are 6 and 4, never around dogs and I yelled at them for it.


I'm worried that by crating him I'll make him resentful. WHen he gets too close to the baby (when the baby is in an exer saucer) I'll ask him to go outside which he loves or to go to his house. He'll obey, but lately I've noticed that when he wants to go out and I'm not ready or don't want him to, he'll go and stand next to the baby and lick him! Yes, he has me figured out and I'm trying to get the upper hand.

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.
Christine,
Thanks so much for the additional information.
It sounds like he was being protective for you...the one aggressive episode that you mention.

Just because a dog hasn't been socialized around children from puppyhood doesn't mean that they can't adjust and acclimate to them once they are introduced into their lives.
And, your child is going to be perceived differently than a 'stranger" child would be. You don't want Wolfy to feel he's in competition with your son. You want him to be perceived as a member of his pack so there's no rivalry between them.

I would never leave a baby and a dog alone...Never!!! But in all honesty, you may be taking it extremes by keeping them totally separated.

I do think that there should be a Wolfy "zone" which is his sanctuary. Crates are excellent for this purpose especially since you have a small house. I don't use crates as punishment; I view them as a bedroom or safe haven to which dogs can retreat when they need to or where we put them when necessary. You're not going to be crating him all the time, only when you can't watch both him and your son. I don't believe he will resent it either especially if you give him a Kong (LINK) filled with peanut butter to occupy his time or something similar.

As to the interactions between your son and Wolfy, they are obviously always supervised. I would encourage you to make sure he's not just "pretty reliable" when it comes to commands but "totally reliable" at least for the basics...sit, stay, come, down and leave it.
Have Wolfie on a leash, make him sit and reward him with praise and something really yummy, then have your husband approach with the baby. Perhaps just far enough away that your son can't touch Wolfie but close enough that Wolfie is associating a pleasant positive experience (food and praise) with your son. Training sessions of 5-10 minutes, several times a day would be best if possible.

It's not too early to teach your son manners around dogs either. While one of you has Wolfy controlled on a leash, and in the sit/stay position (being fed yummy treats), your son can touch and pet his fur. Lots of praise for Wolfy and using words like "gentle" with your son.

Share your attention with Wolfy when your son is around so he, again, associates a positive experience with him. Walk them together in a stroller if possible. Feed Wolfy treats in the back yard with your son present. Shared positive experiences in other words.

The humping he did isn't uncommon. This behavior has many sources and play or even dominance are likely in this situation. As disturbed as you might have been by it, I wouldn't overinterpret it at this point.

It sounds like Wolfie does have you figured out and he knows that you're anxious about him around the baby. But it sounds like he has a natural curiousity about him and would like to get to know this creature that means so much to you.

I think if you take it slow and are patient with the process, that you won't have to be as worried about your son's interactions with him.

I hope this helps ease your mind somewhat they both can coexist together with some basic precautions and positive reinforcement training. Deb
Dr. Deb, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 6350
Experience: I have been a breeder and owner of dogs for over 40 years.
Dr. Deb and 3 other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for putting my mind at ease. I will definitely try your suggestions.

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.

Christine,
You're welcome and thanks so much for the rating; it's greatly appreciated.

I hope you'll keep me posted about this situation. I don't expect major changes in a short period of time, but I can check back in with you in several weeks and you can let me know how it's going.

Even though you've rated, we can still continue to communicate at no additional charge to you.. I'll send you a follow up email to which you can respond when you have the time to do so.

Good luck, Deb

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

thanks again!


 

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.
You're more than welcome:)

I look forward to chatting with you in a few weeks. Deb
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 1 year ago.
Christine:
I'm just following up on our conversation about Wolfy and your son. How are things going? Deb

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