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 Post subject: Dogs and Babies/Toddlers
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:56 pm 
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Semen Strong
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Location: Cliffbar NJ
My dog Cuddles has always been great with kids. He lets all these little kids climb on him and he is remarkably docile when we are out. But lately, when we are at home, Leela has been chasing him, and she has surprised him twice, and he swings his head towards her in surprise. Its not a snap, but its a fast movement, and I find it troubling. She doesn't seem to notice and keeps right on trying to pull up on him. Plus he has always been a bit food aggressive with the cats (we will give him scraps as we eat, and he'll snap at the cats to keep them from horning in), and I worry that he might see the baby as a particularly annoying cat.

I take the two of them for long walks and we hang out in the park, and I hope that that will make things better, but at the moment, she is OBSESSED with him and he really doesn't like her that much. Sometimes she'll be pulling herself up, and he'll just walk away so she falls flat on her face, which is better than snapping, but still.... And I have tried to keep him in another section of the room, but he wants to be right with me at all times.

I might be completely overreacting, but I was wondering if anyone has any ideas about how to handle dogs and babies.

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 Post subject: Re: Dogs and Babies/Toddlers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:25 am 
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Saggy Butt
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I'm wondering if we are going to have any issues in the future as well. Our dog is incredibly tolerant with family but I do worry, since little kids are more or less at her eye level. Right now she seems wary of Sven and I hate the idea of him pushing her too far.

One possible suggestion would be to condition Cuddles to a muzzle (to make it a positive experience you may have to go quite slow). Not the fabric kind, but a basket muzzle, preferably wire, so that it is easy to feed him treats and for him to drink and pant through. Muzzles often seem cruel but they can actually go a long way in reducing the tension around a dog and actually relaxing them that way. We use one with visitors to keep us from ramping up the tension on our home and making things worse, and in those situations our dog is much calmer with the muzzle on that without it. An aggressive nose bump will still kind of hurt with the muzzle, but at least a bite is prevented.


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 Post subject: Re: Dogs and Babies/Toddlers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:01 am 
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Saggy Butt
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I wanted to clarify that I know a muzzle will not solve any behavioral problems, but I didn't think it was reasonable to suggest that you keep Leela and your pup separate or that you micromanage every interaction (like that even works!). It doesnt sound like Cuddles has any behavioral issues anyway -- he seems to be doing a great job of restraining himself despite his annoyance! -- but that you are simply worried about the potential for accidents between dogs and kids, which is wise. The muzzle is simply a tool that can give you a little peace of mind.


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 Post subject: Re: Dogs and Babies/Toddlers
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:22 pm 
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I think you have some cause to be concerned. I would suggest no more scraps while you are eating (save for his bowl or use as treats for training) - and teach Cuddles not to take food that drops on the floor. This may take a while and he may never be perfect but learning restraint around food is a must for any dog that shows food aggression.

Secondly I would hold Leela while you are preparing Cuddles food, making him sit and wait at a safe distance - once the food is in his bowl - give him the ok to come and eat. You could also have Cuddles go through whatever commands he knows while holding Leela. This will help Cuddles see her as a leader, rather than the new pup that he needs to teach how to behave.

I would also set a place for Cuddles to be in your main living area - teach him to go to his place and stay there until released. This way he can be with you but out of the way. If you start slow and increase the amount of time he stays super gradually he will be a pro in no time. I have a place in each room for my dogs - you can use anything like dog bed, bath mat, an old towel, area rug... The towel works really well if you travel - wherever you go you can set his place and Cuddles will know where to go.

If you want any more details, I'd be more than happy to share what's worked with my dogs.

I think you are so smart to recognize this potential problem -I had a dog that was generally great with kids and I was completely shocked when he nearly bit a neighbor reaching down to pick up a piece of pepper that had fallen on the floor. Definitely better to err on the side of safety.


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 Post subject: Re: Dogs and Babies/Toddlers
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:48 pm 
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Semen Strong
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Thank you so much! This is really great advice. We have been using him as a vacuum cleaner to eat all the scraps she drops, thinking that it would also let him realize that she is dominant over him, but it does make sense that him going into a "feeding frenzy" near her isn't a good idea.

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 Post subject: Re: Dogs and Babies/Toddlers
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:11 am 
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Saggy Butt
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I just realized that I totally missed the part about food aggression when I initially read your post -- I totally apologize for seeming like I was glossing over it.

Petunia has great advice! I wanted to chime in on what worked with our dog. Because she struggles with very high levels of anxiety, we use a Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) approach to reinforce calm behavior. For anything she wants -- food, attention, throwing the ball, walks -- we have her first exhibit a desirable behavior (usually it's a "sit" "down" or "wait"), and with day in and day out practice it has gone a long way to decreasing Signe's daily anxiety levels and increasing her inhibition and tolerance for delayed gratification. Perhaps for a while you could restrict scraps and feed Cuddles all his kibble by hand during the course of the day. I know this is really difficult with a baby, but maybe you could just wear his kibble in a treat pouch around your waist and throughout the day get him to offer behaviors you like and reinforce those with kibble.

If you feed from the bowl, as Petunia said, have him sit and wait while you prepare the food, then keep him waiting after you set it down and progress to longer and longer durations. We make it a game, where we try to trip Signe up with a word that starts to sound like "take it" (like taco), or leaving the room, or dancing around and doing silly things. Or we pile treats on her paws and have her wait until released. She's a pro now.

From the time we got her, we also practiced "drop it", starting by trading a more desirable treat/toy for a less desirable object and working up to not needing the trades. It may just be luck (though we certainly have other challenges) but she has never displayed any resource guarding over food or toys, which is really important to us as Sven becomes a toddler. We still practice it every day, having her "drop" toys, "leave" food or toys, and

Before Sven was born we also refined her "good behavior" skills -- reinforcing not jumping up, sitting nicely for attention, not ramming her body against our legs while we were walking, refreshing crate skills, "go to your place," and staying out of Sven's room. As Petunia mentioned, either a crate or a bed/blanket is a fabulous tool.

Sorry I didn't address that before! Sometimes I just forget how much work it all really has been... :P


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 Post subject: Re: Dogs and Babies/Toddlers
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:46 pm 
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Hi Tofulish. Your dog and your toddler are lucky ducks that you have picked up on these changes between them. It is great that Leela likes Cuddles, and it sounds like she is getting a bit enthusiastic for Cuddle's taste. What you describe is his way of trying to communicate that the intensity, type or frequency of her touch is a bit much.

Since there is no way, as you say, she can "get it" that he is uncomfortable, it would be great if you could help her learn the right ways to touch Cuddles and to teach Cuddles that good feelings happen when he is touched. I think the other suggestions you've gotten on polishing manners can't hurt, however IME this core issue of touch/space still needs addressing directly.

There are gobs of resources that recommend up-to-date, effective methods (full disclosure: I am a dog nut, trainer, writer, etc so don't get me going, as this is one of my favorite topics! :-) ), but here is a blog that addresses your concern and other very common ones. It is by a colleague of mine who specializes in guiding families with concrete advice so everyone is happy and has their needs met. Hope it is useful for you and all the best with those two! ;-)
http://www.dogsandbabieslearning.com/20 ... -the-baby/

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 Post subject: Re: Dogs and Babies/Toddlers
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:56 am 
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Semen Strong
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Location: Cliffbar NJ
Oh this is wonderful! Thank you!

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My oven is bigger on the inside, and it produces lots of wibbly wobbly, cake wakey... stuff. - The PoopieB.


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 Post subject: Re: Dogs and Babies/Toddlers
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:22 pm 
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Tofu Pup

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My pleasure! :-)

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