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Thread: Attention Dog Experts

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    d22m22's Avatar
    d22m22 is offline Getting the hang of it. Copper d22m22 is an unknown quantity at this point
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    Default Attention Dog Experts

    Seems like we have experts here on just about everything, so I thought I'd give this a whirl and try to get some feedback.

    Have 2 dogs, and an 8 month old, our first child. Last week, our lab (first dog we got, and got him as a puppy) growled and nipped at the baby. They were under supervision from my wife, and he just kind of freaked when the baby starting moving her arms up and down really fast, as babies do.

    My gut tells me they have to go, but I really love dogs, and have also been told that with some added training, we could keep them. The problem is that my wife is home with them all day while I'm at work, and they do NOT view her as alpha. They do view me that way.

    Advice???

    Thanks,
    D

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    whisper is offline Twelever Silver whisper is an unknown quantity at this point
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    your wife needs to prove to the dogs that she's the alpha dog.

    Here is a link to Alpha exercises your wife can do:
    http://www.canismajor.com/dog/alpha1.html

    hope it helps

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    D
    Before you make ANY decisions, get a good dog trainer, or, better yet, a behaviorist to assess the situation. Your vet will have someone they reccomend, give them a call. A trainer will come to your house and evaluate the situation, and should be able to give you a good idea how much work and behavior modification is necessary. He/she will be able to tell you exactly what kind of exercises and training you need to do with your furry friends. Then you can make an informed decision.
    If you are like me, you love your dogs, and you don't want to lose them if its not necessary. If they need to go for the safety of your baby, they need to go, but get a professional opinion. There are just so many unwanted animals out there already...
    Anyway, I have had a behaviorist for my dogs for past problems. I was doing everything wrong, and the behavior modification I needed to do was easy and worked like magic (it was actually my behavior that needed modifying, and the behaviorist said that this is usually the case -- dumb humans, good dogs...). I would NOT reccomend using ANY "alpha exercises" you find off the net. These only work with certain types of dog "personalities", and can actually harm your relationship to your dog.

    Good Luck
    Jen

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    This must be addressed quickly. In addition to the alpha exercises above, I have heard of success with using a leash to tether the dog to the person who wants to be viewed as the alpha. This tethering forces the dog to do as you want, when you want, and helps to reinforce his place in the pack.

    Your wife might want to tether the dog to her with a 6 foot leash while she's in the house, just doing her daily routine.

    Another tool is to hand feed him for a month or so. Every kibble he gets is directly from her hand with her smell on it.

    A few other things to establish alpha status:

    Eat before he's fed. Always go through doors first. Any toys are HER toys to be kept out of his reach. He doesn't get what he wants when he wants it. He gets what she gives him. Give him one toy a day. Also, groom him every day, even if it's just a few minutes with a soft towel.

    Now, he might mope for a little while, particularly if he's been a little spoiled in the past, but he will be a more well-adjusted family pet in the long run once he knows his place.

    Hope it helps!

    Hollyhill

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    May I also recommend that you try to get some information to understand dog behavior (beyond a behaviorist that someone else suggested). There is a phenomenal book called Mother Knows Best that teaches humans about the dog mentality. Dogs have an innate understanding of social interactions based upon the "pack", as in a pack of wolves. Once you understand the dynamics of the hierarchy, it's often quite easy to see why they are behaving the way that they are.

    Dogs think of us humans as dogs too. They don't know we're a different species from them. They also consider the family they live with to be their "pack". The hardest part of mixing children with dogs is to somehow get it through the dog's head that the small puppy (your baby) that you just added to the pack is higher in the hierarchy than the dog is, even if the dog was there first. You must teach this to the dog, while all along teaching the child (when old enough) how to interact with the dog (i.e., never touch the dog food bowls, never bother the dog while it's eating, don't touch the dog while it's sleeping, etc.).

    If I were you, I'd consider crate training as well, if you're not using that already. Sometimes people think it's mean, but it's really not. The crate should be big enough for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down in. At first, teach them to go in it with postitive reinforcement. They will like it - it's kind of like their own room - they can do whatever they want in there. Once they are used to it, then you can also use it as a training tool. When they are bad, send them to their "kennel". It's like telling your child "shame on you, go to your room." They will sulk and slink off to the crate, but they hate to be banished away from the pack, so it works really good.

    The first thing I would do, if I were you, is to look for any and all documentation out there about how to safely integrate a new child into your home with dogs. Keep the dogs away from the child for now until you have a better understanding of innate pack behavior (put them in another room, in their crates, buy child gates, put them out in the yard while the child isn't sleeping, etc). Once you think you can handle the situation, slowly integrate the dogs back into the regular routine, but watch them carefully. Once the dogs understand the hierarchy, it's a no-brainer for you, and you'll likely find that the dogs will watch over your little one with pure loyalty.

    Most importantly, I'd urge you to give your dogs the benefit of the doubt. They are just doing what comes naturally to them, and you have the power (in most cases) to steer their behavior in the right direction. I hate to hear stories about how people remove their animals from the family because of things like this. It takes time and energy, but I do believe you can do it.
    Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else.
    ~~~~~TIDEPOOLER~~~~~

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    i'm not an expert, but i'm a mom of three boys and have two dogs myself. i'd love to stick my nose into this discussion. i would suggest that the dogs go outside while your at work. if they don't see your wife as the alpha while you're away from home then both she and your beautiful baby are at risk. in nature dogs grab the face to discipline the young pups. if they think they're in charge they will take on the disciplinary duties that go along with that title. i would also suggest that your wife take the dogs to a training class - even if you don't think they need it, it will be a step toward changing the hierachy in the family and give your wife some needed time away from her demanding job -- as a bonus you would get some wonderful one-on-one time with your baby! good luck! dd

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    Bobbie is offline Junior Twelever +1 Bronze Bobbie is an unknown quantity at this point
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    I hate to be the "bad" guy here, but due to personal experience I'd find the doggies a new home. My best friend had a lab (of all dogs, they are usually the best with kids) for 7 years. Never bothered anyone until she had a baby. It was always curious sticking his nose in the babies face or followed him around. One day when the baby was 14 months. The dog out of nowhere came across the room and took the baby by the face. He almost died because of the bleeding. He has had 3 facial plastic surgeries to reconstruct his face. She made the decision that the baby was far more important than any pet and got rid of all her pets. Some dogs are great and are wonderful with kids for a lifetime and others can turn in a moment. Remember they are animals and we truly can't control all of their instincts. Definately try some training, but if something like that happens again. I'd reconsider keeping the dog. Hate to sound cruel, but sometimes you have to do what's best for the kids even if it is getting rid of a family friend.

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    Bobbie, not to minimize the experience your friend had or anything, but it's comments like these:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobbie
    The dog out of nowhere came across the room...
    and
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobbie
    some dogs are great...others can turn in a moment.
    that give dogs a bad reputation and cause people to remove them from their homes needlessly. Dogs don't just do things "out of nowhere". There are definite reasons to why they behave the way they do (read my post above). But, they do have very subtle ways of communicating between themselves, and they assume we can understand them. When a dog attacks, there is almost always a warning of some sort. Whether we pick up on that or not, depends upon how well we understand their signals.

    Personally, I feel (you may feel differently) that people who adopt dogs into their homes are just as responsible for them as they are their own children. It's a commitment. You must take the time necessary to train them up properly, and take necessary precautions (as you said, they are animals). How does your dog behave around children? I have a dog that is nervous around children - they move fast and are loud. She barks and growls at them. Therefore, I don't take her around children. If I see children, I remove my dog from the situation. If a child walks up wanting to pet my dog, I tell them not to. That's responsibility. When I adopted my dog, I did so for the rest of her life. I would never just get rid of her because of an addition to the family, but instead, I would take whatever steps were necessary to integrate everyone into the "pack", and cautiously monitor the situation so that it doesn't turn into someone getting attacked.

    Just my opinion...
    Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else.
    ~~~~~TIDEPOOLER~~~~~

  9. #9
    jkfuq is offline Getting the hang of it. Copper jkfuq is an unknown quantity at this point
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    Default had same situation

    We had a similar situation when our son was born, we had a three year old doberman and she growled and barked at me and the baby for two weeks...luckily my husband was home with me the entire time, so I wasn't alone with her, I was ready to send her to my in-laws, but it took about two weeks (under constant supervision), and we never turned our back on her for a second, we always had her somewhere else and had him in a pack n play if he wasn't being held...which he almost always was.

    I would agree with the keep the dog separated from the mom and the baby if there isn't another person around idea... outside, basement, or another room should work.  I haven't read much on this, but it is not worth taking the chance.  As a mom, it is hard to stick up for the dog in this situation, but I am VERY glad that I did.  My dog is the only daughter that I will ever have, and I am very glad that I listened to reason.  

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    Bobbie is offline Junior Twelever +1 Bronze Bobbie is an unknown quantity at this point
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    Of course, I know my comments were going to offend a few people. And that's why we all have the right to feel how we feel, and handle our own lives. My husband and I bought a dog a few months after dating and had him for 3 years. We got married and we're expecting our first child. Our "baby at the time" wasn't really friendly with children, so we decided to have him live with my father-in-law. It was a difficult discission, but we weren't going to risk our child being around him and didn't want to have to hang over the dog to be sure it wasn't going to hurt her. In our case, it was the best discission we could have made. We got to see the dog when we stopped to visit, but didn't have the burden of worrying about our daughter day and night. I also admit that I know am not a big dog fan after the experience with my friend and with an experience with my daughter when she was 4. My sister-in-law's dog ( a rotwieler excuse my spelling) ran across the yard after my daughter and we still don't know why. We had to tackle the dog and get her in the house, because the dog wouldn't stop trying to get to her. I just have had some bad experiences in my life that have lead to my feelings. I know others love their dogs (my borther-in-law paid over $1500 for his dog and I think he's nuts!) and want both kids and pets. I'm not saying others should feel this way, but I wouldn't want to live my life worrying about it.

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