Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

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Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby APBT<3er » Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:38 am

I'm sure the whole dog and baby things has been discussed up and down throughout the years, but I'm looking for responses that are more relevant to my situation than to THE situation on a whole.

Dolly doesn't mind babies. I'd go so far as to say that she likes the little little ones. Kael is now 8 months old though and he's into almost everything. He has his own set of wheels in the form of a walker and he has a profound love for our animals that I'm scared could result in him getting hurt. Let me start by saying I watch my son, I watch him diligently and I watch my dog, but watching and being able to prevent something BEFORE it happens are two completely separate things.

If Kael is in his walker, Dolly could be relaxing on the floor, or relaxing on the couch, wherever, if he goes near her she gets SUPER nervous. If she's walking around the house and Kael is in his walker, she gets super nervous. She gets all antsy and shifty eyed. It's even worst if he reaches out to touch her. He thinks animals are hilarious, even when they're not doing anything, they could be just sitting on the couch looking at him and it's the funniest thing in the world. Dolly doesn't seem to mind him too much when he's loud, but if he reaches out to touch her foot, her tail, anything shes gone and she's even more shifty eyed than usual.

So, obviously, some of you are probably thinking "duh, just crate the dogs while he's in the walker", um, no. I'm PRETTY sure my kids gonna be walking in the next 2 months and if she's nervous about him now, I want to help ease her through it before then, because when he's really everywhere, it'll be harder. Atleast now with the walker, the dogs can escape into the kitchen or dining room or even upstairs to where he has absolutely no access.

The question really is, how can I make Dolly more comfortable with the baby touching her and being around her? "The baby doesn't need to touch her" really isn't an answer, I'm expecting some people without kids to not understand just how difficult that would be. I need to be able to trust her, and right now, I trust her at about 85%, but there's still that part of me that is worried she may become slightly dangerous around kids and I need to prevent that from happening.

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby BrokenAquarian » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:39 pm

If she doesn't feel safe, it's only going to get worse the more mobile the baby gets. If the baby scares and/or hurts her, it's going to build negativity in the dog - every time he does it.

I'd think you'd need to be at the point where the dog is comfortable and safe, then reinforce while getting the baby gradually closer. She may want a barrier away from the kid, at least for now.

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby <3myBoogie » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:42 pm

I'm glad you posted this. I am a few steps behind you. Boog was the only child until my little one came along. She is 4 months old now. I worry that hell get skittish when she starts moving around. So i take opportunities to let him get close to her in his own way. When I'm feeding i let him rest his head in her lap. When she's in her chair i let him lick her feet to his hearts content... and when he's resting next to is i put the babies hand on his fur. Also i have other kids around and i notice he seems to be unsure. I just make sure they're gentle with him, and i allow the kids to be the one to feed him treats. Also, before the baby came i tried to condition him to expect silly behaviors...for example when he's sleeping id rub his ears....put my hands near the food bowl..in the food bowl..etc. he handles it well. Maybe try letting dolly get close at her own willrather than always the babies.

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby <3myBoogie » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:50 pm

I just re read my post n dnt want people to get the wrong impression. Absolutely use common sense and don't push the baby or any little kid on the dog. I allow the kids to feed boogie when he's in a good place. If he seems scared i assure him that he's ok and tell the kids to give him space..etc. he seems to be open to children so i allow the constant interaction :)

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby PBF lurker » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:51 pm

Here's a consideration: from your description, I'm not sure what she's really afraid of. Is it the baby, or is it the walker?

If Kael is out of his walker and you place him near Dolly, how does she react? Is she as/more/less nervous then?

Alternatively, when Kael is napping, grab the walker and shove it around the house violently. Does Dolly freak out? Obviously don't perpetuate if she gets upset. If so, then you can start desensitization towards the walker, or just manage the situation until Kael is out of the walker.


Regardless of what her fear is caused by, I would start a heavy regimen of counter-conditioning and desensitization towards whatever is worrying her. If you're unsure about how to go about this, please ask and we will post resources for you.

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby rgyoung777 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:52 pm

How does she respond to him when he is not in his walker? I couldn't tell from your post if she reacts as you described every time he touches her or if it is only when he tries to touch her when he is in his walker.

Many dogs are nervous about objects with wheels, so her reaction may be due to the walker and not to Kael himself. Just a thought.

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby Semper Bull » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:03 pm

Is she nervous when she is around him without the walker?

You could try having her go to an area that Kael does not have access to when she starts to get nervous. I would have Soda go to her crate (with the door open) and then baby gate the area she was in off from the baby when she would get nervous around the baby. Even now that my oldest will leave her alone, she will still go to her crate if she needs a break or wants to be left alone. If my little one was persistent in trying to get to her (and the baby gates were not up), I would close her crate or put her outside. The baby gates are no longer up, but I am sure they will be going up soon when my newest kid starts getting mobile. I chose to separate her from the baby because it only takes a split second for something to happen and I did not want to push her past her threshold.

APBT<3er wrote:but watching and being able to prevent something BEFORE it happens are two completely separate things.
I agree with this statement, and it is why I chose to have Soda separate from the baby when she got nervous. Kids sometimes do things just to see what will happen, or can trip and fall onto a sleeping dog, etc.

Semper I never had an issue with him getting nervous, but would still separate him if I felt that the baby was being to annoying, or if she would not stop trying to climb on him. I think that it is important to train the kid to respect the dog's space, but until they are old enough to respect some boundaries, the dogs have to be able to go some place that children do not have access to.

Another thing you could try is desensitizing her to him touching her.

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby APBT<3er » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:30 pm

She pretty much avoids him when he's not in the walker. She's not as nervous, but she knows he can't really get near her without his wheels.

If I throw the walker around, she will be nervous, loud sounds, loud voices, clapping, and anything of the likes makes her nervous, usually it's just the tail between the legs nervous little wag with the head down and ears pinned to her head, like submissive nervous I guess, but with Kael it's as if she thinks he's going to attack her. I worry that if she is faced with fight or flight and flight is not an option she may hurt him, not out of malice, but out of being nervous.

Now, I write all of this and I have to mention too that there are times where she'll be running around the living room while Kael is in his walker, licking his toes, and sniffing his feet, and the same applies as to when we're just cuddling with Kael and her on the couch. She doesn't NOT like him, I think it's that she doesn't trust him.

She's a rescue, and I know that some people don't believe that a dog necessarily remembers the things that are done to them before, but beat any dog long enough and it's going to have some mental trauma... Not saying she was abused by kids, but if she was socialized with them, it seems that it may have been in a negative way.

So, I think I may try the whole Kael giving her treats thing... Lets hope she eats them and not him - she has no food aggression, so am I wrong to think this may be a good idea? She particularly likes Kael in his walker when I give him his puffs and he drops them on the floor.

And, the baby is rough. So, I don't know how I should prepare her for that because despite all my watching, one day he will end up grabbing her ears before I can fully make him understand that he's not allowed to hurt the animals (he's quick... luckily, the cat tolerates it, he's learning ta-ta to mommy (LET GO OF THE FREAKIN' CAT) very well lol).

I just worry that when he starts walking Dolly will be really uncomfortable.

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby APBT<3er » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:33 pm

Semper Bull wrote:Semper I never had an issue with him getting nervous, but would still separate him if I felt that the baby was being to annoying, or if she would not stop trying to climb on him. I think that it is important to train the kid to respect the dog's space, but until they are old enough to respect some boundaries, the dogs have to be able to go some place that children do not have access to.

Another thing you could try is desensitizing her to him touching her.


This could work, although, as of yet, I really don't think he's done anything too annoying. He doesn't sit there and make her nervous for even three minutes at a time which I realize also gives me a very small window of time to work with her on it. All he does that makes her nervous is walk up to her and laugh.

Definitely interested in the desensitizing, any tips? I could have him hold the treats like I mentioned above? I'll just really have to watch to make sure he doesn't eat them himself little bugger lol.

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby Nickdawg » Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:51 pm

Some links that may be helpful

http://familypaws.com/

http://dogsandstorks.blogspot.ca/ she is starting a whole series of blogs about the toddler stage...

Here is a good little read on "the curse of the good dog": http://www.dogsandbabieslearning.com/20 ... dont-bite/

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby Semper Bull » Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:51 am

When Dolly is not nervous and likes being around Kael, praise her and give her treats. When she is nervous, remove her from the situation for now. This will help establish the flight response.

I would not have Kael feed her treats; him dropping food is fine. Many times kids will offer food and then take it away and sometimes eat it themselves.

I would start to teach Kael "be gentle," or "nice touch." You can start with yourself if he likes to grab hair or ears. You can also use the cat since it is tolerant. When he pets the cat nicely, praise Kael and possibly offer a treat. You could then move to Dolly IF she is okay with him touching her. When Dolly is nervous, have Kael leave her alone and praise him for it. If Dolly leaves because she does not want to be around Kael, let her go and do not let him follow her.

If you use a clicker, I would implement that as well, although it may be difficult with baby watching.

This is a period of transition since the baby is getting mobile and can now intrude upon the dog's space .

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby APBT<3er » Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:26 pm

:goodpost:

Thank you!
I think a large part of the problem is the walker, but it's not that it makes noise or is bulky, it's because he can approach her and she's so used to being able to approach him. She MAY be more scared of the walker, but I'm not sure and I don't want to take any chances.

So far, I have let Kael give her 2 treats, I have to put my thumb in the palm of his hand so that he can't get a good grip on them, and I let Dolly come up of her own free will... where there are treats, there is definitely a Dolly dog. They both responded to it super well. Kael thought it was pretty funny when she licked the treat out of his hand and Dolly wagged her whole butt.

I've also been playing with Kael on the floor and calling Dolly over, she's more than happy to get a good rub down from me. I usually put her in a down position and start patting her belly, then I check her reaction to the baby being on the floor and if she is ok with it, I'll let Kael pet her. Again, with my thumb pushed into the palm of his hand keeping it flat so that he can't pull on anything. She doesn't seem to mind that, she definitely trusts me, and I think she trusts me to not let the baby hurt her, so I'm going to use that to my advantage.

Mega thanks to the members here once again, you guys always know how to help.

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby APBT<3er » Tue Oct 09, 2012 4:25 pm

:( it's getting worst, I think.

Now, he's in full out crawl and creep mode, so he'll crawl all over, get to the couches, climb up and creep along. I'm always watching. When he gets too close to the dogs for their comfort, they'll willingly get off the couch and leave, or I'll go and grab the baby and try to divert his attention to something else in the room. Lets just be clear that the dogs have never shown any signs that they will bite him otherwise they would've been crated by now (which would suck for them because he's at the age now where he's crawling ALL the time) since our house is pretty much open concept and I can't really keep them out of any given space.

Lately, Dolly has been showing an interest in the baby when he's on the floor and when she can approach him of her own free will. The last time I let her get close enough to him, she did a play bow and was nudging him with her nose and would start to do zoomies around him. My problem with this is that it got kind of rough for my liking, so I put an end to it.

Today, again, she approached him when he was crawling on the floor in the living room and it starts with a little sniff here and there, a nudge or two, play bows, and skittish zoomie style run aways when he would get closer to her (making me think she's nervous, or does that just sound like play?). Her body is tense, her ears are erect and she licks her lips, all of that makes me think nervous behavior.

I've contacted a behaviorist by e-mail, I'm hoping for a few pointers so that I can work with her in the time it takes me to get an appointment.

I may be thinking of the negative here, but I don't want to put her down. I absolutely will if I have to, and that may sound like me failing my dog, but I wont have her become a statistic and knowing that she's had a great life since we rescued her 5 years ago... I just have to put my kid first in this case. Anyway, that's me for sure thinking of the negative, lets just hope that the behaviorist can peg exactly what's going on and what I can do.

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby Leslie H » Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:29 pm

You've done the right thing by calling in the behaviorist. I don't want to try to make any guesses, it's way too important to be guessing over the internet. I just wanted to express my respect, and support for you in this tough situation.

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Re: Starting to worry about Dolly and the baby

Postby APBT<3er » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:54 pm

Thank you Leslie, it's appreciated. Still no response from the behaviorist, I'll call tomorrow.


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