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Old 01-25-2006, 11:03 AM
Fran27 Fran27 is online now
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Default Dogs and toddlers

We're in the process of adopting a baby, which will most likely happen in the next 2 years or so. Funny enough, I'm not too worried about taking care of the baby, but mostly of what I will do with the dogs, especially when the baby starts crawling in the house. Thanksfully Tips and Boris will probably be calmer by then, but somehow the idea of having them with a toddler stealing the baby's toys freaks me out.

So, for those of you who have got dogs and young children at the same time, how did you handle it? I don't want to have the dogs in another room while the baby and I are somewhere, Boris would be very unhappy. I'll do it if I have to but I'd rather teach them to be gentle with the baby and not to steal the toys... is that even possible?

I've never seen anyone who had babies and dogs, so I'm totally clueless about what is likely to happen. I'm almost sure there won't be any problem with the dogs, but of course there is never a guarantee (they both love children, although Tips is a bit shy with them), but I'm curious how other people handle it.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-25-2006, 12:03 PM
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Amstaffer Amstaffer is offline
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Milwaukee WI
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I have had my Amstaffs around my Grandchildren and I just made sure to pay lots of attention to the dogs while the kids are around. When the baby arrives remember to keep the dog part of the experience, don't leave them out. They are less likely to feel jealous. Praise the dog a lot when the child is near them and make sure the whole "kid thing is very positive". Keep things quiet and serious around the baby though, no excitement or ruff play near the baby. They need to know that when the baby is around its time to be real gentle.

You might be lucky though, both my dogs were naturals with babies. They are so gentle with kids its unreal. Especially Sal (Athena just watches them) he follows them around and acts as a walker when they are learning to walk. He gives them a gentle kiss once in awhile but no bumping or anything. I think Sal just loves having a human his hieght
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Old 01-25-2006, 12:21 PM
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bubbatd bubbatd is offline
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I never worried about my Goldens and my babies. When the time gets closer, get a baby doll wrapped in a blanket and carry it around, let the dogs smell etc....bring the baby home in that blanket and they should associate the smell as an OK thing. If you can be with the baby before you bring it home..take home something the baby's worn and put it with the doll. This is exciting for you !!
A light for all who are crossing dark times.
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Old 01-25-2006, 12:46 PM
Athebeau Athebeau is offline
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How exciting for you Fran,
You have received some great advise already

First if your adult dogs were not well-socialized to babies and children when they were was a puppies (imprinting during crititial period), start preparing your dogs now to a baby.

This a very critical step for you and your dogs so I feel it's very important to give you all the info I can

I am going to PM you the info as it is too long to bore every one else with here.

Last edited by Athebeau; 01-25-2006 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 01-25-2006, 01:06 PM
Athebeau Athebeau is offline
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I couldn't get it to fit in a PM, So...I'm just going to summarize as best I can. Get a beer & Popcorn and enjoy.
In a perfect world, every new puppy would be thoroughly socialized to
babies, toddlers, and children while she was in her critical learning
period. Unfortunately, many vets recommend that their clients wrap their
puppies in cotton wool and keep them strictly at home until they have been
fully vaccinated - which won't occur until weeks after the critical learning

It's never too late to condition your dog to living with children. It just takes more time and patience with an adult dog.

If your dog's experiences with children up until now have been neutral and
she's otherwise well-socialized, seek out gentle children and have them feed
her treats. Watch her closely. If she seems cheerful and happy, continue to
find opportunities for her to have positive experiences with kids.

If your dog is tense or nervous with children, take it more slowly. Let her
see babies and kids at a distance, and you feed her treats. Select a very
special treat, like steak or chicken, and feed it to her only in the
presence of children and babies. When she notices a child in the distance,
steak starts raining from the heavens - tiny tidbits, nonstop. When the
child leaves, the flood of steak stops. Every time a child appears, the
steak starts. When the child leaves, the steak stops. You want your dog to
think that children and babies, and only children and babies, make steak

If Dad plans to walk the dog while pushing the stroller, have him practice
walking with an empty stroller long before he tries it with Baby on board.
That way, he can concentrate on the dog, making a positive outcome far more

When your dog looks at you happily for her steak when she sees a child in
the distance, you know she's starting to perceive children as reliable
predictors of steak. Your goal is to convince her to like them close up as
well, through the continued association with really wonderful food.
Gradually move closer to the children, repeating the exercise, always
watching your dog's body language to be sure she's comfortable.
This is critical: Never punish your dog for showing signs of discomfort or
even aggression, such as growling, when children are around. The growl is a
critically important warning sign. It's your dog's way of telling us she's
not comfortable around kids. If you punish her, she may learn to suppress
the warning sign, making her far more likely to bite a child one day, severely and without warning.

Think about it: You can't punish your dog into loving children! You have to
use positive conditioning and reinforcement to convince her that kids are
good to have around.

The older your dog is, the longer she's been uncomfortable around children,
and the stronger her response to them is, the longer this process (known as
counter-conditioning and desensitization or CC&D) will take.
Of course, you'll always supervise her around children, even if she loves
them. If your dog is merely tolerant of children, you'll have to supervise
much more closely. If she's truly uncomfortable with them, you'll need to
confine her in a safe place where children aren't permitted, such as her
crate in your bedroom, whenever you cannot actively supervise their

Whatever changes are going to occur in her routine should happen long before Baby arrives, so she won't associate them with the arrival of the new family member.

Here are some suggestions for helping the baby's introduction to the family
positive for your dog:
* The nursery: If this is now the dog's room, don't wait until the final
countdown to repaint and restrict her access to it. Redecorate as far in
advance as possible. Put a soft cushion for your dog in one corner of the
room and teach her a "Go to your bed" exercise. Whenever you're puttering in
the nursery, reinforce her with treats for lying there quietly. You can give
her a food-stuffed Kong there. When you're not in the room, use a baby gate
across the doorway to keep your dog out.
* Restricted access: If you plan to restrict your dog's access to other
rooms after the baby is born, do it now, using baby gates and closed doors,
and positive reinforcement to reward her for staying in approved areas. Try
to allow her access to as much of the home as possible.

* Your dog's routine: Anticipate any changes in your routine that will
change your dog's. If Mom walks her three times a day and Dad will be taking
over dog-walking for a while, start making that switch now. If Dad will
become your dog's primary caretaker, have him assume those duties as soon as possible. Plan to include Baby's presence in as many of your dog's
activities as possible, so she thinks Baby makes all the fun stuff happen.
If you intend to hire a pet-sitter to provide some dog care, integrate him
or her into the routine several months before Baby arrives. If Mom plans to
walk the dog while pushing the stroller, practice this while Mom is still
active and agile, so she can figure out the logistics of managing leash,
dog, and stroller without tipping Baby onto the sidewalk. In fact, if your
dog doesn't already have good leash manners, start immediately by standing
still when she pulls on the leash and consistently rewarding her for walking
with you.

* Greetings: If your dog hasn't already learned how to greet people
politely, give yourself several months to teach and reinforce polite
greetings. Reward her with treats and attention for sitting in front of you.
If she jumps up, turn your back and step away from her. Be consistent! If
you sometimes reward her for jumping up, she won't understand that it's
inappropriate to jump up when Mom or Dad's arms are full of Baby.

* Doorways: If your dog doesn't already know how to wait before going
through a door, there's no time like now to teach her.

* Stairways: If you have stairs in your home, your dog may think it's a
great game to charge up and down them at your side. It's much safer for your
babe-in-arms - to either have the dog wait at the top or send her down the stairs ahead of you. Start this routine now, making it a fun, positive game. You can toss a treat or toy down the stairs for her and have her wait there until you join her, or ask her to "Wait" until you get to the bottom and then invite her to "Come on down!"

* Leave it: Teach your dog a positive "leave it" cue so she'll happily
respond (and be rewarded for it) when you ask her to stop kissing the baby,
or to drop the pacifier that will inevitably fall on the floor

* Escape route: Baby will be crawling around after your dog on the floor. Even dogs who love kids need a getaway plan. Provide your dog with an escape route, such as a low barrier she can jump over or an elevated surface she can jump on so she can escape from Baby's grasp when she's had enough. Show your dog how to use it, and practice until she's skilled at the maneuver. Dogs who are cornered by small tormenters without a way to escape may feel compelled to bite in self-defense.

No matter how well they get along, you must actively supervise your children
and dogs when they are together. Dogs can get scared or hurt by even a small child, and reflexively take defensive action.

When Baby arrives, your dog will be excited to see Mom after she's been
away. The day before Mom and Baby come home, have Dad bring home a blanket
that's been wrapped around Baby, to pick up his scent. Show the blanket to
your dog. Let her sniff it, and feed her yummy treats. Then put the blanket
in her bed. When Baby comes home the next day, his scent will already be
familiar to your dog.
When you all get home, have Dad hold Baby outside while Mom goes in to greet
your dog. If the dog forgets her polite greeting manners in her excitement,
she won't hurt Baby, and she won't get yelled at. You don't want her first
introduction to Baby to be negative! Then have Dad come in with Baby, while
Mom has treats ready to reward the dog for greeting Dad and the human puppy nicely.
Rather than banishing the dog to the backyard while everyone settles in,
encourage her to lie calmly on her rug, or if necessary, use a tether to
keep her out of the midst of chaos until things calm down. Have Mom sit on the sofa with Baby while Dad rewards the dog's good behavior on her rug with treats, praise, and a Kong stuffed with irresistible goodies.
If you've done your homework well, your dog will soon love Baby as much as
you do, and you'll have successfully set the stage for a long and happy
relationship between your dog and your child.
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Old 01-25-2006, 01:28 PM
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bubbatd bubbatd is offline
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Amen !
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Old 01-25-2006, 02:55 PM
Fran27 Fran27 is online now
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Thanks for the advice. I'm mostly really worried about when the baby will start crawling around though... and yeah the jumping is still a problem, but it's getting better. Mostly our house is small so if we start restricting rooms the dogs will have just two small rooms to play in all day... and Boris can't stand being separated from us in the house, he just cries.

Also, we will probably have to leave the house for 2 weeks or something, and we will either kennel the dogs during that time or get a pet sitter, but either way I hope it won't be too hard for the dog, especially if we have a baby when we come back... I really hate that we're probably going to have to leave them for 2 weeks. We will most likely not be able to get them used to the smell of the baby beforehand either. I guess nobody considers adopted babies in those books I'm still hoping we will find a baby in the area, but it's unlikely.

As for the way they react to children, I'm really not worried. When we meet kids, they're always happy to see them. Tips when alone is a bit more reserved, but he usually follows Boris' lead if Boris reacts positively to something. I guess it's really the technical stuff that worries me, but I guess that by the time the baby is big enough to start exploring the dogs will have learned to be gentle.
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