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Q: What are the chances of my dog attacking my newborn son?

March 25, 2010 | By Anonymous | 4 answers | Expired: 1604 days ago

Anonymous

My dog is a female black lab mixed with border collie, about 2 years old and has been around children and other dogs most of her life. But my in-laws are freaking out about my dog getting jealous and hurting my newborn. Occansionally,though (she learned this from a old dog at my in-laws house) she will growl at my rambunctious 3 year old nephew, but thats probably because he likes to push and grab animals. She never did that while at my house, but due to some international travelling procedures, I had to temporarily leave my dog with my in-laws. So now I have a baby exspected in May, but my dog wont be with me til June. So will my dog adjust to the fact that she is in a new house and there's a new baby?

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Anonymous
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Anonymous

Mar 31, 2010

Your dog is part herding breed, so part of her behavior around the 3yo may be her instinctive herding kicking in. Border collies will herd people & both breeds need lots of training & activity to squelch bad behavior. Also, many dogs would react to being pushed & grabbed. That being said, ANY dog CAN harm a small child either intentionally or unintentionally if not introduced to them properly or left unattended. Even a curious or overly affectionate pet can unintentionally harm a baby.Pets need time to adjust to a new family member so introductions should be made gradually. Always be sure to spend quality time with your dog too so she doesn't feel like she's being replaced & any bad behaviors she has should be taken care of now with gentle appropriate training. Keep all interactions between you & your dog positive while the baby is in the room so she doesn't associate negative interactions with the baby. Give her something with the baby's scent on it to sniff & get used to, like a blanket. All in a very positive atmosphere. Make sure she knows the sit, stay, & leave it commands & that she can hold her commands. Some people play tapes of babies crying, starting out softly & gradually increasing the level so their pets get used to crying babies before one comes into the house & they won't be so apt to run to investigate. Introduce the two slowly, with the dog on a short leash. If you have any fear at all the she may hurt the baby, use a muzzle. If your dog marks territory or tears up a diaper or a blanket with the baby's scent, don't scold her because you'll increase the stress level while she's trying to adjust to the situation. Mainly, don't leave pets & babies unattended, ever. Nobody should. Always err on the side of caution & that ensures baby & dog remain happy & safe & have the potential for a good relationship. Closed doors, baby gates, obedience training, positive reinforcement.

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Mickruns
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Mar 27, 2010

First off, I would consider the breed of dog you are talking about, maybe even talk to the two breed clubs for labs and border collies, see what they see is best practice for introducing a newborn, or any behavioral advice they can give you on breed behaviors. It sounds like your dog is exhibiting classic border collie behaviors. They can be extremely vocal, making growling/barking sounds and using their mouths just to play (my sister has one, sweet dog, loves my sister's kids, but plays SUPER rough and SUPER vocal, and very mouthy- she has busted three of my dogs collars by herding her when they play). Because of the way border collies can herd with their eyes they can appear to be doing threatening stare downs. Keep in mind too that a child is almost incapable of becoming dominant over the dog in the dog's eyes, and that growling at a child for 'inappropriate behavior' like the shoving or pushing your three year old nephew is doing is the way a dog would react to its subordinate (like a puppy) for being too much in their space. One route you might try to be on the safe side is talking with a dog trainer or behaviorist about how to be the absolute alpha in your house in your dog's eyes, and then how to help your child become that as well. There is a great book on 'becoming the pack leader' using visual cues and behaviors a dog would understand called "the dog listener" by jan fennell that is awesome (and a quick read). Additionally I would read up on a couple methods people have used successfully to transition the baby into the house as the newest pack member. I have heard all sorts of methods, including giving the dog new toys for a few days, prior to bring the baby home, to slowly increasing the amount of supervised time they spend around each other every day, until you can sit comfortably with both of your 'babies' in the room! As far as will your dog attack your baby, the dog seems unlikely to do this unprovoked, but I work in the infant room of a daycare, and babies 'provoke' many things unintentionally (think of how often they can't resist touching your eye or your ear or your nose, and think of how much most dogs don't enjoy this when vets do it, and think of how babies stare . .. staring into the eyes of a dog is the most threatening thing you can do to a dog). I think with appropriate mentoring/supervision, your dog and your baby should be buds, even though you are going to have be hyper-vigilant until the child can really learn the appropriate way to touch a dog (12-24 months, depending) and behave towards animals, in addition to gaining enough control of their limbs and their strengths to carry out this knowledge! Congratulations on the upcoming baby and good luck!

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Michele Z.
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Mar 25, 2010

Even IF Jillian (below) is correct that it is "unlikely" that the dog would attack a child, you should NEVER leave the infant unattended with the dog in the room! The dog may not do something "intentionally", but the action could still have devastated results. YOU MUST BE EXTRA CAREFUL AND CAUTIOUS ONCE THE NEWBORN ARRIVES.

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Jillian
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Mar 25, 2010

It's highly unlikely your dog will attack any child, and i can assure you he will not harm any kid out of jealousy - it's just not in their nature. children have to be socialized to animals. they have to be taught how to pet the animal and not to be grabby. in turn, dogs have to be socialized to being around small children so they can learn to tolerate the occasional grab or rough affection. as puppies, it helps to lightly grab at their legs and tails so they get use to being touched. you can start doing this when they're 2, but you'll have to start off a little gentler if they're uncomfortable w/it.
2 year old labs are still like children themselves. they're just reaching emotional maturity and not all have learned patience. you can teach your dog to sit and stay within 20 minutes - the more you increase the amount of time he stays and intensify the situation in which he needs to stay, the more patience he'll develop.
honestly though, i doubt this is ever going to be a problem. if i were a dog, i'd growl at your nephew too. your dog is growling to say "back off". if the kid pursues beyond this, they may get a nip - not a bite, but a nip. few dogs get to the point of biting and even fewer will attack. basically, it will take persistent harassment from a kid to make your dog do anything. teach your kid at an early age how to interact w/the dog and it will never escalate into this. to put it into perspective, if your dog were another child, a fight would have broken out by now w/your nephew. your dog has been a gentleman through all of this!

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