Babies and Dogs

Dogs and Babies Question

QUESTION

We are the owners of Chief, a five year old Dalmatian. Chief is a great dog who loves to play and sometimes he can very stubborn too. Chief has a big back yard to live in during the daytime. At night he sleeps inside by our bedside. He is like a big baby to us, and we love him very much. I am now four months pregnant with my first child. When the baby comes Chief may feel left out, because our focus will not always be on him. Will this cause problems with his behavior? He has not been around many children during his life. Will he be afraid of our baby? We have many concerns, and hope we can trust Chief around the baby. If you have any advice or training tips about this matter, please let us know. Thank you for your time.
Darlene and Joseph Binder

ANSWER

All expecting parents should consider ‘prenatal’ training for their lovable canines. Start planning early for the baby’s arrival. It is important to set rules and boundaries for your canine and stick with them. Consider these training concepts while you build the nest!
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Obedience Training
Obedience training speaks for itself. Practice on leash obedience training a minimum of three times a week. Reestablish your canine’s boundaries inside the house. Teach the ‘leave it’ command, and work on the long down/stay. Verbal control of your dog will be a must with a little toddler crawling around the house.
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Socialization
Start socializing your dog around children and babies as soon as possible. Let your canine observe children at play first, gradually moving to treat training by the children. It is important to keep your canine’s stress level down during these interactions. If you notice any anxiety or aggressive behavior move away from the distraction immediately! Your dog’s tolerance level of children will increase with time and food treats!
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Prenatal activities
Do not isolate your canine from your own preparation for the new baby. Allow your dog in the baby’s room to get familiar with the new smells and sounds. Observe your canine as he sniffs baby’s blanket, toys, clothes, etc. Expecting mothers can comfort a baby-sized doll a few minutes each day, to help desensitize their dog.
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Who’s watching the dog?
Arrange feeding and walking for your canine while you are at the hospital. Keeping the same routine for your dog while you are away will help with the new arrival.
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When the baby arrives.
Daddy should present an item with the baby’s smell on it to the dog for inspection before mother and baby come home from the hospital. This will help your canine recognize and accept the new family member.
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New Toys for Pooch.
Arriving home with a new baby and new squeaky toys for the dog will work wonders for the anxious canine. Make the new arrival of baby a positive one for your canine superstar!
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When you get home.
It is a good idea for dad to hold the child, and let mom greet her love starved canine like she always has. Behavior directed to the dog should not change when baby comes home. With mom and baby sitting in a chair, let the dog observe and smell around baby. I do not recommend letting your canine lick the baby or any ‘touch’ sniffing. Never leave infant and dog unattended.
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Include dog in family activities.
Baby and dog interaction should be as natural as possible. Teach your canine to walk beside the stroller, what a great way to bond! Isolating your canine from family activities could initiate bad behavior.
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The arrival of a new baby is an exciting time for every one, particularly to your dog. Adjustment time towards the new baby can be greatly reduced with proper training and planning. Train for control, practicing several times a week. Keep your dog’s daily routine the same, after the baby comes. Remember to include your canine in numerous baby activities. Make interaction a positive experience for your dog and acceptance of the child will happen naturally!

Shy Dog Issues

Shy Dog Question

Problem (Shy Dog) :

I hope you can help us. We own a 7 month old beagle/mix named Zoey. She is scared of every one! Guest will visit us, and Zoey will be hiding upstairs. When we are on walks she is a little better, but Zoey still barks a lot at strangers trying to pet her. She will only let me or my husband pet her. We would like her to be more social. Is there anything we can do to help her? Thanks.

Solution Ideas:

Answer
Living with a scared dog can be challenging for the entire family. Non confident canines require gentle schooling, and patience from their owners. Consider these training ideas to help your nervous canine.

Obedience training is mandatory for the shy dog. A dog working commands is a confident dog. Training should be on the leash and outside of the house. Practice come, sit, down and walking exercises. Use ‘super praise’ when she exhibits any confident behavior. This training helps you and your dog communicate better, and will improve your over all relationship. The family dog must have a solid obedience training foundation in order to become a confident, well behaved canine.

People therapy. Start with someone sitting outside with their back to Zoey. Place food treats in their outstretched hands. Instruct them not to make eye contact with Zoey or speak. Praise her when she takes the treat. Have the person slowly move inside the house, when you think Zoey is ready. This person must only pet her under the chin and on the chest, a pat on the head will send her running! People therapy must be done regularly to help Zoey overcome her shyness and gain trust in human beings.

Protect dog’s private areas. Do not allow guest to enter these areas until Zoey has meet them outside with food treats. Ask friends to pet her under the chin and on the chest. She will accept praise from strangers better this way. Avoid letting anyone reach or lunge to pet her. Have them stand still and let Zoey go over to them first.

Do not pet or praise your dog when she is scared and say “It’s OK”. Your canine will assume you are praising them for being scared. You should act happy and confident in these situations. Praise reinforces your canine’s behavior, what ever it is.

Yawn. Yawning is a calming signal for dogs. Practice yawning with your guest for several minutes. You will notice your canine relaxing the more you yawn. Have your guest sit in the floor and yawn. They should not make eye contact with Zoey. Use plenty of food treats during exercises.

Exercise your dog! Free play with another canine is a great way to open up a shy dog. Dog’s who do not trust people, need other dogs as companions. Allow the dogs to romp around in a fenced area. Have the owner of the other dog pet Zoey if possible. Let the dogs tire out before going home. Free play may be the best therapy for the shy dog.

Most shy dogs can become friendly with positive dog/human interaction. The dog must learn to trust the individual before accepting a friendship. Use food along the way and don’t allow people to threaten your canine. Let your dog set the pace of training and do not over stimulate! Let her decide how close she will get to someone. Remember to praise your dog when she exhibits any confident behavior. Exercise is also a key ingredient for successful training and overall behavior.
Good Luck!

Territorial Aggression

Territorial Aggression Problems

Problem (Territorial Aggression) :

My dog, who is in every other situation a pussy cat, is over defensive and aggressive when it comes to territory. Especially in his yard and while inside the car. I’ve heard that territorial dogs are more prone to bite. Should I be worried? What can I do?

Solution Ideas:

Every lovable canine has natural instincts to guard the pack’s boundaries. It is instinctive for canines to bark or even growl at strangers when confined to a yard or automobile. However, this aggressive behavior can often lead to more severe problems if not handled correctly. Most territory aggression problems can be successfully controlled with intensive and regular socialization exercises. Teach your canine companion to walk on a loose leash around other people and dogs. Join a group obedience class. Work your dog in and around his yard. Remember it’s your yard, you are the alpha of the pack! Try to ease your canine’s aggression and emotions with positive training methods. Use a toy or food reward to relax your dog in aggressive situations. Use ‘super praise’ when your canine displays a relaxed body posture. Teach the ‘quiet’ command, and practice the ‘come’ command in aggressive situations. Stay in charge of your canine with obedience training and socialize everyday to ensure a friendly companion for all!