Managing Dog Aggression Toward Babies

The first rule to keeping your child safe from your dog is keeping your dog safe from your child – LJ Edwards, “Please Don’t Bite the Baby…”

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Ask Professor Boo is our recurring, positive reinforcement dog training and behavior question and answer column. If you have a question that you would like to ask Professor Boo, please feel free to contact him.

Question:

Professor Boo, I have an 11 year old female German Shepherd and a 10 month old baby at home. My dog has always been friendly towards my baby girl and usually kisses her and licks her a lot. My baby is always after the dog, using her as a “ladder” to stand up, grabs her tail and face and usually my dog just walks away but today was the first time she growled at her and showed her teeth when my daughter tried to grab her (my daughter was in my dog’s sleeping area.) Does that mean she might bite her? I love my dog dearly but my baby comes first. What do I do?

Pinball gets to see that great rewards come when he ignores the silly toddler.
Answer:

This is fairly common when little ones begin to toddle around and use the dog as a walking “helper” as it were.

Please remember all dogs can bite anyone if they feel they have no other way to stop something that either scares them or hurts them. Cute as it may be to see baby loving the dog, most dogs are not really comfortable with this kind of grabbing as most little ones don’t have really good grip control and can hurt when they pull and tug on an dog especially an older dog.

It should not have to come down to a choice for you between the dog you love and the child you love.

It really just has to come down to always remembering that baby doesn’t know she may be hurting the dog and your dog is telling baby with a growl “please stop.” Your job is to stop baby before doggie gets to the point where she feels the need to “correct” the baby. There are some simple rules that will help.

Please start out by thinking of your dog like an open pool in your back yard. You would never turn your back on your baby around an open pool. You would never let her dangle her feet in the pool without you right there, next to her. You would always be right there to catch her if she fell, etc…

Please follow these rules:

Dog and baby are never alone together.

You are always right between them for now.

  • Baby can only touch dog when you are right there, guiding baby as to how to gently touch dog.
  • Baby never wakes the dog, pokes the dog or lands on the dog when dog is sleeping.
  • Dog is never chased by baby – not with walker, not with toys and not on her own.
  • Dog is never used as a walking helper for baby.
The first rule to keeping your child safe from your dog is keeping your dog safe from your child.

In addition to all of these I would suggest some review of basic skills that allow parents to get their dog out of a potentially dangerous situation quickly. Very often parents find it easier to call the dog away from baby than to ask baby to stop advancing on a resting dog. This may mean some new or review training either individually or in a classroom. In my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs,” I cover a number of quick techniques to get your dog out of a situation before trouble occurs.

Too many dogs are euthanized each year because they are viewed as aggressive to their toddler. Much of this can be avoided if we try to understand that for most dogs, toddlers can be scary. Most dogs try to warn the toddler away and too many parents punish the dog for the growl. This leads to a dog who feels like they have no alternative but to bite.

Always remember

When your dog growls, she has given you a great gift – she has told you she is uncomfortable with some things baby is doing. Take that gift and return the favor to your dog by following the rules above and teaching or reviewing some really basic skills to keep everyone safe.

For more on how keep baby and dog safe and happy together, click here

For more on Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs, click here

81 thoughts on “Managing Dog Aggression Toward Babies”

  1. We have a 6 month old staffordshire/american bulldog mix and a 3 year old son. We got the pup at 6 weeks old for our son. They are always together playing and taking each others toys. When the dog is sleeping or resting on sofa and our son walks by, our dog will growl or silently show his teeth. I always correct both. recently this past week at the park, the dog showed aggression to little kids and not adults. I kept him super tight on leash. well our son was playing on playground and would come up to our pet and hug him and run back off. He did that several times. Well our dog aggressively growled so ugly and lunged at our son’s face (who was squatting down) and tried biting the top of his head. My husband pulled back his leash immediately and I just saw our dog with a hold of son’s hair. Of course i freaked out expecting blood. Scared toddler crying. Dog did not break skin but left teeth marks and a scratch. I know if my husband did not act quickly, it could have been ugly. we still have the dog but we have been keeping them separated or I’ll have my son on my lap while dog is loose. That is not how I want to be, in fear. Our son is like mommy i want to play with my dog and I say Not now. I don’t know if I should rehome dog or try your techniques you have mentioned. Its so unpredictable if it will happen again.

    1. Hi Monica,

      I am so sorry to hear this, and so sorry for the delay in reply. So much is happening right now with the virus, kids remote school, and trying to figure out the new norm. I am sure all of this has not helped your situation. You are correct to keep them separate right now. Yes, you can begin to work on the behavior modification techniques and training tips mentioned throughout these comments. It may also be worth it to talk to a vet behaviorist to see if any medication could help. When things get to this point of a ‘near miss’ it is never bad to pull out all the stops. Your goal should be to give your dog enough very reliable verbal commands that you can give him a way out of any situation – like your son hugging him. I have only ever had a dog I would hug with my face directly in hers. It is something most dogs hate, and many will tell you that with growls, bites, etc. Your dog needs to be conditioned to Love your son, but also have some time to himself, and always have a way out of the situation. For now, this is not the dog your son can hug and snuggle with. But, if you can follow the instructions in the book and outlined here. Reach out to a local trainer, and really build their relationship and your dog’s skills, you son will learn how to be safe around all dogs. If you find that things are not working out to a safe result in the training, you will have a better chance of rehoming a dog who has great skills. But, again, management is critical as you try to figure out the best path.

      I hope this is helpful and you are doing well in the current crisis!

  2. Hi how are you? Okay so I have a 1 and half year old pit bull and I have 9 month old twin boys. From day 1 my dog has always loved the twins. He kisses them, lets them lay on him, pet him, touch his face.. everything, constantly licking their toes and hands and tries to lick their face. It truly looks like to me that he loves them and enjoys them. But just today for the very first time he growled at them and gave one of my twins a side look. Let me add that my twins are now very active and crawl around and are grabbing things and just doing much more. My son reached for my dogs bone and he growled at him very aggressively. Just a little while ago I wanted to test him .. without putting the boys in danger. I layer the bone down put the babies on one side of it and my dog (BLU) on the other and instantly addictive soon as my son leaned towards he growled and snapped towards his bone to grab it aggressively. I don’t know what to do. I am very scared. I love my dog to death but of course my sons come first. I just don’t know what I would do if he bit one of them or frankly even snapped too aggressively at them. I don’t know how to teach him to be easy when it comes to that. Or how to get him to stop or understand that he can’t do that. I’m hoping there is a way to teach him not to be aggressive towards them when it comes to things that are his. Please help me!!!!

    1. Hi Angel,
      Thanks for writing this. I know what it is to live with a resource guarding dog and babies. Again, please pick up or check out my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby.” In the meantime your dog should be behind a gate when your twins are having floor time and crawling. I even have a chapter in the book titled, “Beware the Rise of the Toddler.” The baby is easy for a lot of dogs, but once the kids are moving and grabbing your dog’s whole world changes. You will need leave it, drop it, settle, out you go. View this video and you will see some of these. You will want to build calm relationships with distance for your boys and dogs. I include the Charlie Brown video to show this distance relationship and that resource guarding can be overcome by many dogs. Here is a good drop-it video. Keep in mind this dog Pinball was a very aggressive resource guarder from everyone!
      Remember that by managing the time they dog spends with your twins you will have time to build the trust and relationships you want for all of them.

  3. We have a 5 year old pug terrier who if you ask anyone who meets him says he has the best personality and is the sweetest dog. This is true except for when it comes to our 1 year old. She is pretty gentle with him and we are constantly working on teaching her gentle. When she wakes up for the day he is so excited to see her and our dog runs up to her and lays next to her when I change her. She’s fed him treats and she’ll play with him and throw his toys for him. Seems great but then out of nowhere she’ll walk by him or near him while he’s on the couch and he’ll growl and show his teeth or his fur on his back will stick up. He’s even nipped at her out of nowhere. She’s never hurt him or even been rough with him but he seems to get scared and act aggressive when sometimes moments before he was playing with her and loving it.

    1. Hi Michelle,
      I am reminded that somewhere in my book, I mention that we can really never know what our dogs think of babies and toddlers. They don’t move like adults, they don’t smell like adults, and they don’t even have the same proportions that adult humans do. It is hard to know what can make a dog afraid or defensive around a baby/toddler. However, we can get ahead of it and build skills for the dog like – out you go, settle, and even some general desensitizing and counterconditioning. I again will refer you and other to the book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby.” I am also including links to some videos demonstrating some of these skills.
      It will also be important to limit your daughter’s petting and physical interactions with your dog for now. At one year, she still has a long way to go until she has the fine motor skills to consistently pet a dog evenly and gently. My son’s OT figures this skill would be developing sometime after three.
      Go slowly.

  4. I have a four month old baby and a 20 month old dog. The dog has been around children at least once a month or more since we brought him home, children aged between 3-10. We thought we had prepared for bringing home baby. We played all kinds of baby noises months before the baby was born. I also had a c section so my husband was able to bring home items from the hospital for a couple days for the dog to smell before I came home with the baby. Everything has been fine up until a couple days ago. I went to feed the baby, the dog was sitting on the couch next to me, I picked baby up and set him across my lap, the babies feet just barely touched the dog but the dog began to growl. I almost wasn’t even sure it had happened until my baby stretched his legs and the dog growled again this time jumping off the couch. I was extremely disappointed, I told the dog he was a bad boy but did nothing more than that. Then the following day something very similar happened. Dog was on the end of the couch, my husband sitting at the other end went to lay the baby down to change him. The babies head wasn’t even touching the dog but again he growled at him. My husband backed up a little and tried to lay the baby down, same thing dog growled with him even being close. The baby is typically dog towards the dogs height, whether it’s in a swing or chair or right down on the floor. Now I’m so nervous I can’t even turn my head for one second. I heard a car muffler the other day and my mind instantly went to thinking it was the dog growling.

    1. Hi Courtney,
      I know how scary this can be. There are a lot of things you guys can do. The first is gates and management. Right now until your dog is well trained for off, settle, say hello, etc., he shouldn’t be in range of the baby. We can get there, but everyone needs to feel more secure right now. Baby should not be on floor with your dog is in the room at this point. if your baby is in the swing, dog is behind a gate. I go into a lot of the skills necessary for your dog, settle, out-you-go, off, leave it, how to hang out with baby, how to teach the dog to be happy on the other side of the gate so he can watch the baby and be happy about it. All of these things can happen during your regular interactions with dog and baby. There are some exerpts of “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” on the Please Don’t Bite the Baby website. But, there is much more in the book. Some folks like to get the electronic edition so they can search by need. I wish I could put all the info in the book into the blog reply, but it would be another book, lol.
      At the end of the day, all hope is not lost. Your dog is not being bad, he is trying to understand this new little person and maybe even a bit afraid or worried. You guys can help him, help your baby to have a loving dog as he grows, and help yourselves to feel more at ease.
      I hope this helps.

  5. Hello, I have a 6 month old English bulldog who we adore. I’m starting to worry that he’s becoming aggressive but know that he’s a puppy and it could just be that. I have a 3 and 5 year old who love to run around the house and our pup will run after them, jump on them, bring them down and then it looks like he’s trying to bite. He doesn’t always bring them down because I’m always there and immediately go after and separate him. I pick up my child immediately so I don’t know if it would get to that point. Also, especially with my 5 year old if he just sees him he goes after him trying to nip so I’m very careful with them together. I’m worried that he will hurt the children and want to know if there’s anything I can do to get him to stop. I try time out and that seems to work sometimes but we’ve had him for 3 months and he’s still doing it. I can tell when he wants to go after my 5 year old for no reason and afraid that one day he will snap with him. I would really love some advice!

    1. Hi Melissa,
      You will need to teach your bulldog exactly whathe is supposed to be doing around the kids. This will mean a good deal of management so he can’t just do what he wants to when he wants to. Gates and crates are great for this. You will allow him to interact with the kids when you are right there to help him do the right thing. He will need to learn how to settle around the kids – just relax. But, he is still a very young dog and has about 18 – 20 more months until he is fully mature. All of this is a process. Keep at it, but start with the management. There are training tips in the “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” book. You can start following those and then look for a trainer in your area if you need further help. Bottom line right now is that dog nor kids are ready to play without your oversight (right there within arms ready), and all of them need to learn the right things to do.
      Hope that helps!

  6. I have a 13 month old baby girl who lives my dog. My dog zoey (yorkie chihuahua mix) has been with us for 5 years and is very attached to me. She usually plays with the baby and likes to lick her and allows the baby to pet her. If the baby is on the floor zoey will run up to the baby full speed and stop right in her face and usually licks her or starts jumping around the baby. The baby thinks its hilarious. Recently even i go to pick the baby up zoey will jump up after the baby or sometimes tries to bite her feet. Im not sure how to get her to stop biting her feet when we pick her up.

    1. Hi Shandra,
      It is great that your baby loves your dog and that Zoey seems to have taken to the baby, too. This can change as the baby grows up and begins doing different and sometimes scary things. There are a number of management strategies I would suggest because you baby will very soon be toddling everywhere. In the meantime, when you go to pick up your baby, I would employ the go-sniff exercise with Zoey. For this you would have some treats in your hand, let Zoey sniff them, then toss the treats from Zoey’s nose away from you and the baby. As Zoey goes to get the treats, you scoop up the baby. You will have to toss enough to keep Zoey occupied as you pick up the baby. If she follows you to jump, I would do some walking exercises – reward for good walking next to you.
      It will be helpful to pick up a copy of my “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” book where this is outlined in more detail along with all the other management strategies I think would help with Zoey and the baby.

    2. Hi shanda,
      We have a 2 year old shepherd mix and 5 month old baby at home. Our dog constantly licks the baby’s feet’s and hands and sometimes even Face. We tried to take a photo of our dog with baby laying in his lap while he was laying down and he growled/ grunted and got up right away. Needless to say he did not like that, but is that a warning sign something worse is to come? I’m worried when the baby starts crawling and goes near him again and touches the dog.

      1. Hi Chelsey,
        Please don’t try the photo again. Too many dogs may be interested in a new baby, but not want to be confined by the baby in such a way especially if the dog is lying down. The growl was a warning and the fact that your dog got up and walked away was great. We all have to respect what our dog tells us. Yours said he did not like the baby on top of him. It will be very helpful to help him with more baby activities like crawling, etc. Baby gates will help so your baby can crawl around without you worrying and your dog can watch this and learn it is okay. You can then teach your child how to interact with your dog. I hate to keep sending people to the book, but it covers all of this. The Whole Dog Journal recommended it and I keep hearing from folks who have been able to take care of dog/baby issues because of it.
        In short, you dog didn’t like the baby that close. Your dog made a decent choice by warning and leaving (not immediately snapping and/or biting). You guys have been given a gift because your dog told you what he needs without harming the baby. You now know that your dog will need some help with the baby.
        Best of luck.

  7. Hello- so me and my husband have been debating if we should put our 7 year old pit down. He is very possessive over us and his food. He is overall a super friendly dog, well trained and a cuddle bug! He has bitten children and adults before probably going on 7/8 since we’ve had him for a year. Two have been really bad and needed stitches. He shows no aggression towards us ever but to other he does. Sometimes just when he’s being pet he will snap. We’ve learned to just keep him away from strangers but I’m now 5 months pregnant and terrified if he will snap too fast for me to react. He’s a big dog about 80/85 lbs we are looking for every other solution but I would like to know what you think is best?

    1. I am so sorry it had come to this debate. It is always difficult to weigh the love we have for our animals and our children. While it is a different thing on some levels it is not on other levels.
      Your first step is to manage your dog’s access to all kids. Second step is to visit the vet to be sure there is no pain anywhere, joints, lyme disease, other issues that could be causing him discomfort. None of us is at our best when we are in pain or sick. Third step is training and “Please Don’t Bite the Baby.” If you’ve read the other blog replies, you saw the recommendation to read “Please Don’t Bite the Baby.” Because it is written as part memoir and part training tips, it often gives parents a view of what is possible and what level of work will be required to keep everyone safe. The tips section allows you to view the skills and exercises to decide if you think it will be do-able in your household. Please explore training, medication, and management before you make a final decision. Let me know if you need further help. I have been doing face-time consults for some families out of my area.

  8. Hello – I appreciate your time and comments. I have a 6 year old cocker spaniel. She is very territorial and protective of me and my wife. She is on the smaller side for a cocker 20 pounds. We just recently had our first child – a baby girl – and we were VERY nervous about how the dog would react to the new household family member. The dog has shown some “sneaky” signs of aggression at various times throughout her life. She has never bitten anybody but has snapped at a few people in her 6 year life. Since coming home from the hospital with the baby – the dog had been great – far exceeding our expectations. The dog has just been more curious than anything. Lets fast forward to today – the baby is now 4 months old and becoming more vocal and active. The baby who was sitting on one end of the couch on her mom’s lap was grabbing towards one of her toys and making baby grunting noises. The baby was facing the dog, who was sitting on the opposite end of the coach against my lap. Out of nowhere the dog jumped up towards the baby, lunged towards her face – it appears she snipped at the baby. Luckily my wife pulled the baby back and nothing happened except for a crying baby. It was unclear what the dogs intention was, what set her off, she showed no early signs of anger or distress. I have had her since she was a puppy and can normally tell when something or someone is bothering her. Now we are very “freaked out” to say the least, and back to a state of being nervous especially as the baby becomes more mobile and steals more and more of our attention. Any help or suggestion would be greatly appreciated. Also do you think your book would help us solve this dilemma?

    1. Hi Barry,
      Thanks for reaching out. I am sorry about the incident. I am happy no injuries occurred. When babies begin moving and vocalizing it changes much for our dogs. When newborns come home, from our dog’s perspective, they don’t do much except make noise and fill diapers. However, once the baby begins sitting up, making sounds, and moving independently, it can be very scary, or at least confusing, for our dogs. This is a common time for parents to see changes in how their dogs react to their babies. It often becomes the wake-up call that begins training, management, and the process. To answer your last question, yes “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” will help you guys get started. It was designed for you to be able to learn techniques while seeing how they are employed in everyday situations. Some folks can take that book and implement it on their own, some folks will bring in a local trainer who has dog and kid experience to help flush out the finer points. At this point your daughter will take up a lot of your time and you will be running after her quite a lot. This means your dog will have to give up some freedoms for a little bit – not forever – as long as you can implement training. Baby gates are a great way for our dogs to watch the baby start to move and reach for things in a safe space. They can have treats thrown to them over the gate by mom and dad and the baby. This makes the gate not so bad a thing. My book outlines a lot of management techniques. I know personally that there is often no training time when there is a baby beginning to move and toddle in the house, so management saves the day. Sometimes folks are reluctant to put their dog behind a gate, but remember this is to save the dog, save the family you love, and save your child from any harm. Think of the gate as a cast on a broken leg. It will come of eventually and things will return to normal after training and time. Don’t forget the training! I hope that helps!

    2. My parents had a cocker when I was growing up and demonstrated those exact signs. When I was 3 my mom was outside with me and the dog. Out of nowhere the cocker bit my face. I needed 64 stitches and plastic surgery on my face as a 3 year old. Luckily, I was ok and minimal scars now (I’m 30). I love dogs and have two of my own. I just felt like I needed to share my story. I don’t believe in putting dogs down but maybe finding a new home before it’s too late!

      1. Hi Morgan,
        Thanks for sharing your story. It is good to hear from the child’s perspective especially from a child-now-adult. As parents we are always worried about how these types of episodes will play out for our kids as they grow and develop. Your story tells us that these situations are indeed horrible, and that as you yourself have shone, kids are very resilient. You are also correct that it is better to be ahead of an incident. I took the training, management, and slow introduction route. Some take the rehoming route. Thanks again for your thoughts.

  9. Hello – I appreciate your time and comments. I have a 6 year old cocker spaniel. She is very territorial and protective of me and my wife – although she is a very small cocker 20 pounds. We just recently had our first child – a baby girl – and we were VERY nervous about how the dog would react to the new household family member. The dog has shown some “sneaky” signs of aggression at various times throughout her life. She has never bitten anyone, but has snapped at a few people and grabbed a few hands throughout the years. Since coming home with the baby – the dog had been great – exceeding our expectations and calming our initial nerves. The dog has been more curious than anything. Now lets fast forward to today – the baby is now 4 months old and becoming more vocal and active. The baby was on the couch grabbing towards one of her toys and making baby grunting noises – and out of nowhere the dog – on the opposite end of the couch – jumped up towards her lunging towards her face. The baby was sitting on Mom’s lap. Luckily my wife pulled the baby back and nothing happened but a crying baby. It all happened so fast. It was unclear what the dogs intention was, what set her off, she showed no early signs of anger. I have had her since she was a puppy and can normally tell when something or someone is bothering her. We are very “freaked out” now – to say the least – and back to being nervous especially as the baby becomes more mobile and steals more and more of our attention. Any help or suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

  10. Hi Lisa
    I hope you can give some advice. Our worst fear happened last night, our dog snapped at our 8 month old in the face. Our little one was just sitting in his walker and I turned away for a second and our dog went up to him, probably to give him a sniff, and I think our boy may have grabbed the dog, as babies do, and the dog reacted by snapping at him and left a cut under his eye. We are so heartbroken this has happened, our dog is our baby, but how do we ever trust him again?

    1. Hi Michelle,
      I am sorry to hear about this incident. It is always so hard to have conflict between our loved ones. I am glad there was no more than the cut. Incidents like these remind us that every dog has the capacity to bite. The job ahead is to rebuild the trust through training, management, and patience. It will be a while. You can contact a local trainer who has experience in kids and dogs. You can get a jump start by reading my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby,” recommended in the Whole Dog Journal. As bad as it sounds, there is a lot that can be done to keep everyone safe and happy together. It will take work and time. While you are considering your options please remember this simple phrase, “When in doubt, get the dog out.” I wish you the best.

  11. I’m asking for a friend he has a two-year-old Pitbull and says every time his girlfriend is menstruating is 2 year old dog gets snippy with his 15 month old baby he would like to know what he can do to stop this

  12. I’m in a really tough situation! My wife is about to give birth in a few weeks and we have a 10yr old Jack Russel. Our Jack Russel has never been around infants or any baby’s at that. The other night my wife, baby sat for a friend. The baby is 4 months old and it was an extremely bad situation. Our dog continued to try and get at the baby over and over with no stopping, for hours. She was biting at my wife while she was hold the baby and trying to bite the baby while they sat.

    Will our 10yr old dog adapt to having an infant in the house? My wife already wants to somehow give the dog away, and that’s not an option for me. But human life definitely come first. I’m so stressed!!! Is there any options for us??

    1. Hi Jared,
      Your first step is to set up management – baby gates, crate, etc. where you can send your dog when things are hectic or stressful once the baby comes home. Before baby comes home, teach your dog to LOVE these places – feeding there, treats there, best games ever there.

      You will also need to teach your dog the following:
      Sit
      Down
      SETTLE
      Out you go
      Drop-it
      Leave-it
      Touch

      This will allow her to have direction around your baby and you guys can live in some comfort knowing your dog is under good verbal command with the backup management in place when things get tricky or the situation gets too stressful for all.

      In the meantime, I will, like I have so many times before, send you to get a copy of my book, “Please Don’t Bite the Baby.” I wrote it for folks like you. All of the commands above are covered in the book along with techniques to get your dog happy on the other side of gates and crates, how to teach your do to be happy around the baby, and other techniques helpful to keep your dog and baby safe together.

      There is so much that can be done for your dog and your family, and so little that I can easily put into a blog response.

      Finally, contact a positive reinforcement trainer in your area to help you guys work through many of these. The book will start you out with low cost and the trainer will come in to help where things have gotten stuck at a higher price point, obviously.

      There are a lot of things you can do, but management is first while you work on all the other good stuff!

      I hope this helps!

  13. Hi. Please help..
    I have a 4 year old golden lab who were very close to rehoming. He has always had behaviour issues to other dogs but not people. We had a trainer out to combat this agression with dogs and when we found out we were having a baby he informed us our dog would be fine with the baby

    The first 5 months were great similar to others he would lick his feet sniff him.
    However since he has been in his walker our dog has been showing agression he firtsly barked and growled at him so we seperated them with a baby gate for when baby is in walker. Our dog is still growling and being agressive towards the baby and we just cant see what to do anymore..
    Please help…

    1. Hi Alison,

      I am sorry to hear about these episodes. It is not unusual for the early part of our baby’s life with our dogs to be smooth because newborns don’t do too much that can scare or alert our dogs. But, when our little guys start becoming mobile, our dogs often don’t react well. This does not dismiss it, but it is at least sometimes good to know that this is a common occurrence at this point in the relationship development between our dog and baby.
      I am, as I always do, going to recommend my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs” for quick suggestions while you look for a trainer and begin training because, especially in electronic format, you can search tips, training techniques, and situations as you go through the book and it will give you a jump start for when you find that trainer who has experience with dogs and babies/kids.
      It seems you are in the UK, I know APDT and IAABC both have members in the UK. These are my two go-to organizations in the US for trainer recommendations. The certified members of these organizations are searchable at http://www.ccpdt.org, http://www.iaabc.org and they will have credentials much like mine.
      It will be important to find a trainer who has lived with or worked with these situations. Many trainers who don’t have a lot of experience with these baby/dog situations don’t understand that dog/baby training is often chaotic and has to be squeezed into the everyday demands of our babies – between diapers, feedings, work, etc. It has to be done slowly and patiently. I used to work on settles with my dogs during the 3AM feedings. It was quiet, and the dogs thought it was great that we were now getting up for middle-of-the-night snacks.
      Right now, keep up the management. Don’t correct or reward your dog for the growling. Make a journal so you know when it happens and where. This way you can eventually set your dog up for the desensitization and counter-conditioning portion of this process. “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” has tips and pointers on this process, but you will probably need the professional to help you smooth out any rough edges as you work through the DS/CC process and to find your dog’s threshold.
      Your ultimate goal is to teach your dog that this baby is GREAT, and GREAT things happen to him when baby is around.
      Remember – if you can’t do any training right now, keep the management up, get the book, and start little by little, just make sure there is no opportunity for your dog to make a big mistake. Again, you will be keeping up the management for a long time until your dog feels happy about your baby and is very reliable with verbal commands.

  14. When my son was 9 months old and we got back from vacation (he just learned to crawl). My spouse was eating pizza, I was pumping and my son just pulled himself up on the couch. At that time my 5 year old female pitbull jumped on top of my son, bit him in the head. Once we yelled she got off of him. She didn’t hurt him, just left a little red tooth Mark on his head. I was pregnant at the time, a week later I did miscarriage. I spoke with a trainer and they said it sounded like resource guarding, Also that it was a good sign she got off of him right away. They also said she just doesn’t like small children. She’s been around my nephews 3-10 years old with no problems but it was just every once in a while. Ever since this incident she has spent her time in the bedroom. Unless I was holding my son and or he was eating in his high chair. Never been on the floor with each other since that night. She’s also been out while he’s in his crib. All she’s done is lick his hands and take the food he gives her. I haven’t been able to let them out with each other. As I have another dog (5 pound Yorkie) that my son is now mean to, we’ve been working on getting him to be nice but he doesn’t always mind. My pitbull isn’t animal friendly, ever since she had her heat cycles and was attacked by another female rott she hates other dogs. She’s never shown aggression towards anyone. Just that once. It’s almost been a year at the beg of January and we are pregnant again. I am torn on what to do with her as she was my first baby. The thought of getting rid of her breaks me and even putting her down. That’s what my spouse wanted me to do from the beginning. He hates her now and won’t pay for any training. I hate to keep her locked in another room all the time. Once my son goes to bed I do cuddle her and sleep with her so she isn’t 100% cut off from me. When my in laws take my so she’s out with me then as well. Or if we leave she gets out. Since I’m pregnant again I’m torn at what to do with her. She’s now six years old.

    1. Hi Aereole,

      Thanks for the comment. I can understand your concerns. In fact, I had many the same concerns when I brought my son home.

      I did a lot of work to manage my dogs around my newborn. And, as my son grew to toddler and beyond, I altered the dog’s access to him and his to them. This can be a shuffling game, but I thought it was worth it for the sake of my dogs and my son.

      I also know how it feels to disagree with family about what to do with a dog who has shown some bad decisions around a baby. I can only imagine the extra stress and double-edged guilt you are grappling with. Please know that you are currently doing a good job of managing your dog from your son while giving your dog the personal time with you that you can.

      I am a big fan of doing the same and then incorporating the dog into everyday life with the child. I want my dog to LOVE my child, so the dogs had to have time with my son. Baby gates, and play yards are very important to keep everyone safe and where you want them. Techniques to keep the dog and baby safe together like settle, and techniques like out-you-go, go-sniff, touch, etc. to get the dog out quickly and easily are critical.

      The decision to re-home or euthanize is not easy and especially now with pregnancy hormones speaking very loudly. It may be good to begin the training process and make plans that will allow your dog more freedom while still keeping the kids at a safe distance, teaching skills, building techniques and protocols around the house to keep everyone safe and stress free. Then, begin poking around to see if there are local rescues who can post your dog if the ability to set up the house for everyone’s safety and happiness is not feasible. And, if you find you cannot make life work in your home with your dog and your kids, you will have set her up with good skills for her next adventure.

      I know funds are always tight when a new baby is on the way, and your husband does not want to pay for training. My book, “Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs” was written when I was in a similar situation as you. It gives details on the techniques I mentioned and many more. I will also walk you through my daily living with three complicated dogs and a newborn, so the techniques outlined have a practical setting. Pat Miller , CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA recommended it in her March 2018 Whole Dog Journal article “Kidding Around, combining kids and dogs in your family…” “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” is a cost-effective way to begin the training process, see if you think you can do it, and begin a discussion with your husband about the possibilities.

      I hope this is helpful!

    2. Hi Aereole,

      Thanks for the comment. I can understand your concerns. In fact, I had many the same concerns when I brought my son home.

      I did a lot of work to manage my dogs around my newborn. And, as my son grew to toddler and beyond, I altered the dog’s access to him and his to them. This can be a shuffling game, but I thought it was worth it for the sake of my dogs and my son.

      I also know how it feels to disagree with family about what to do with a dog who has shown some bad decisions around a baby. I can only imagine the extra stress and double-edged guilt you are grappling with. Please know that you are currently doing a good job of managing your dog from your son while giving your dog the personal time with you that you can.

      I am a big fan of doing the same and then incorporating the dog into everyday life with the child. I want my dog to LOVE my child, so the dogs had to have time with my son. Baby gates, and play yards are very important to keep everyone safe and where you want them. Techniques to keep the dog and baby safe together like settle, and techniques like out-you-go, go-sniff, touch, etc. to get the dog out quickly and easily are critical.

      The decision to re-home or euthanize is not easy and especially now with pregnancy hormones speaking very loudly. It may be good to begin the training process and make plans that will allow your dog more freedom while still keeping the kids at a safe distance, teaching skills, building techniques and protocols around the house to keep everyone safe and stress free. Then, begin poking around to see if there are local rescues who can post your dog if the ability to set up the house for everyone’s safety and happiness is not feasible. And, if you find you cannot make life work in your home with your dog and your kids, you will have set her up with good skills for her next adventure.

      I know funds are always tight when a new baby is on the way, and your husband does not want to pay for training. My book, “Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs” was written when I was in a similar situation as you. It gives details on the techniques I mentioned and many more. I will also walk you through my daily living with three complicated dogs and a newborn, so the techniques outlined have a practical setting. Pat Miller , CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA recommended it in her March 2018 Whole Dog Journal article “Kidding Around, combining kids and dogs in your family…” “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” is a cost-effective way to begin the training process, see if you think you can do it, and begin a discussion with your husband about the possibilities.

      I hope this is helpful!

  15. so i will be having a baby here in the next 3 weeks and my cousins dog nips at anyone. I have no control over this dog its not mine…. and my cousin lives with us i can not kick him out not my house however he dosent seem to care. he tells ppl she dose but dosent do anything to fix her behavior…. he just blames it on her breed. to make an excuse for the behavior. and I’m worried she will hurt my baby at some point….. I will be moving out in March but till then what do I do…..

  16. Hey,

    We have a 2yr old Puggle (mainly beagle) and a now 7month old.
    He has always loved her from the minute we brought her home from hospital. Lots kisses and lies down next to her etc.
    Yesterday my little girl (who has just learnt to sit) lunged forward and grabbed him on his side. He yelped and then growled at her – although did kiss her hands afterwards. Since then whenever she moves anywhere near him he growls at her and even barked at her earlier.
    I’m really worried this behaviour is going to escalate especially when she is freely moving around. I know that dogs can bite because they are scared and I am so worried this might happen. I’m completely devastated as my dog has never shown any sort of aggression before to anyone and I couldnt bare to get rid of him because of this.

    Any advice?
    TIA

  17. Hi!
    We have a 3 year old rescue that is a jack Russell/ chihuahua mix and a 11 month old baby. Our dog is very attached to us. For the most part she ignores our baby except when she licks her to get those yummy smells. Lately, however if we are petting our dog or she is sitting on our lap and our baby comes over, she pounces and sometimes with an open mouth. She is clearly jealous and trying to stand her ground that we belong to her. But her aggression towards our baby is frightening. We always invite her to join us with the baby so she feels included. But she also actively wants to be around us when the baby is. However, once the baby goes to sleep, so does she. ( she does sleep with us most nights) It’s like she comes around when our baby is playing, but when she could have us to herself she’s sleeping.

    We love our dog and baby more than anything and are at a loss of what to do. We will usually firmly tell her no when she shows aggression and then kiss her or redirect, but that doesn’t seem to work.

    Any advice?
    Lori

  18. Hi Lisa,
    I need some advice regarding my three year old English bulldog and one year old son. My dog has always been very gentle and loving with my son and other children but has recently started growling and snapping at toys my son is playing with. (This only happens when my son is pushing toys around.) More recently, the dog has begun growling at the baby when he gets too close to his face and the last time, he snapped at the babies face. He didn’t cause any injuries but I’m afraid that next time he might. I’ve been staying close when they are around each other and trying to help teach my son to be gentle with the dog but am afraid this may not be enough. I don’t want to have to resort to rehousing the dog but won’t be able to forgive myself if he injures my son. What should I do?

  19. Hi!
    I have a couple of Dachshunds that I’ve had since I was a teenager. They’re other animal and kid agressive. I was recently married and of course everyone is bringing up my husband and I having children. We don’t know if we want any but since my dogs are so kid aggressive, I’m scared what would happen if we tried to bring one home. My dogs are very healthy 6 and 7 year olds, you can’t even tell they’re that old. Any recommendations to help the situation?

    Thanks!
    KN

    P.S. Finding them new homes is out of the question. They’re my first babies. I’ve had them their entire life.

    1. Hi Kyala,
      Thanks so much for asking these questions before there is a baby in the house. And, it is not my place to tell you to re-home your dogs. I can tell you stories of a number of my clients with issues not dissimilar to yours. The one that best matches yours was a woman I worked with throughout her dog’s first couple years in classes and private lessons. The little Dachshund mix had some stranger issues. When my client found herself married and then having a baby, her extended family lobbied her to re-home her dog who was just as yours – her first baby. She worked on desensitizing her dog to strangers, we met to work on management techniques, and other training tools that she and her husband could use to keep everyone safe and teach her dog to love her baby. It all worked out very well. I tell the story about Queenie in the chapter ‘Beware the Rise of the Toddler’ in “Please Don’t Bite the Baby.
      There is also a lovely story in my blog about Odin getting ready for his new baby
      Odin’s story also has a happy ending. He did not originally like neighborhood or visiting relative children. He now loves his little girl.
      Your best option would be to begin training your dogs to reliable verbal commands, begin some of the preparatory exercises for kids/babies in the home, then desensitize them to kids out and about and relatives. Take a look at my book and get a good reliable positive reinforcement trainer in your area will be helpful.
      This will allow you to keep the dogs you love while you keep any baby you will love all safe together.

  20. We have a 5yr old Springer spaniel, he is for the most part well behaved but has also bit people on two different occasions. He is good around non family as long as we are there, he just seems to get territorial of his pack. There have also been a couple occasions when he has snapped at me but he has never bit me. He is large for the breed and I have a hard time handling him so it is mostly my husband who works with him. I have requested that we put him in training before but my husband is against it.

    We recently got back from vacation and he was kenneled for a week. He always does well at the kennel but the evening after we picked him up he bit my 22mo old daughter for petting him. We never leave them alone and even in this situation we were right there, it just happened too quickly for us to do anything. I really am afraid that he is going to do it again or worse bite someone else’s child and we will have to put him down. I would like to give him a chance and see if training would help but my husband is still resistant, he thinks that he is too old to train. I want to avoid getting rid of him but if it’s about my daughter’s safety I will do it to protect her.

    1. Hi Kristina,
      I am sorry to hear about the bites, especially to your daughter. This is so hard for any parent. I’m going to bullet this because there are a couple different tracks to cover here.
      1 – No dog is ever too old to learn. My first dog finally learned to do a down and a settle at age 10, because I finally knew how to get him to want to do it. A five-year-old dog can be trained.
      2 – If your springer has not had a complete vet work up lately, it would be worth making sure that he is in good working order. When there is a bite that has a stress element like kenneling it could be the emotional elements associated with that. But, if he has been good at the kennel before, there could be other elements going on.
      3 – Keeping baby and everyone else safe is a matter of four elements (I said three in the past post but forgot time which is #4) See the post reply just before this one – 1 – Management, 2 – Desensitization counter-conditioning, 3 – training, 4 – time.
      I have covered a lot of the items you describe here in my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby.” You can find it in libraries, electronically or in book form on Amazon, barrow it from a friend, but read it. I wrote this book so that other parents with complicated dog/baby situations could learn from my very complicated dog/baby situation. I also always recommend locating a good positive reinforcement trainer who has experience in these matters to help you through some of the more challenging elements.
      You are correct, this has to and can be addressed through the right kind of training.
      I wish you good training!

  21. Our dachund is acting aggressive to our newborn… very aggressive…trying to bit the pillow that’s in front of the baby and barking non stop… panting and eyes bugged out…. I’ve had to have my parents take my female dachund until I can figure out what to do. My male dachund is with us and is not bothered by our newborn at all. What can we do?

    1. Hi Laura,
      I am sorry to hear this. I know how stressful this is for any family. There are three elements to having dogs and babies safely together. 1) management – this would mean having enough baby gates that you can easily walk through – pressure mounted door swinging in both directions. This way you can begin the second element – 2) desensitizing and counterconditioning (DS/CC) which simply means changing your dog’s emotional response to the baby. This is outlines in my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby.” While the process becomes an every day element of your life with dogs and baby, it is a bit lengthly to outline it here. 3) training solid verbal commands for the dogs so you can easily and calmly tell them to sit, settle, go out through the gate, touch to redirect, etc. Right now you are managing by having your female at your parents, but that won’t change how she feels about the baby. Once you have in-home management, start the DS/CC, and have solid commands, you will be able to bring the family together little by little over time (okay – there are four elements – time is also a factor). I would recommend contacting a positive reinforcement trainer near you to help you as much as possible. It can be done, I had a crazy crew of dogs when I brought my son home and we made it – he’s six now (it’s all in the book). I hope that helps!

  22. I have a Old English Sheepdo, a 4 year old shelter dog. We adopted him at 10 months old. We have no children. We were told he was given away twice by families with young children. We sort of think we know why….he is beyond wonderful with other dogs as long as they are not aggressive towards him. If another dog over reacts on a greet or rough play, he does not over react and does not escalate nor does he cower. I admire this in him. But his weakness is babys. If there are toddlers or 3-4 year old children he is wonderful, forgiving and playful, slightly rambunctious. We are careful with introducing kids to him and vice Versa. But if a parent decides innocently to simply pick up a child nearby, that act distracts this dog and he barks and tries to free the baby or nip at it. We are not sure but we do not allow him to get close enough to learn. We do have a doll in the house, a newborn baby doll and he barks non stop if he even sees it, so we laid the doll on the bed and he barked non stop for 5 minutes or more, pulled the socks off each foot but did not bite it. Nudged it as if he were trying to wake it up, so I’m at a loss in trying to coach or train this behavior but instead, just avoid putting him in situations. He also hates, violently, vacuums or hair drying blowers in his face and will aggressively bite to destroy the appliance. It is a vicious and destructive attack. We somehow put abuse potentially by a vacuum and baby and moronic adult as the damaging culprit when he was a puppy….

    1. Hi Gary,
      It sounds like your OES has a number of items that scare him. There is a lot that can be done to desensitize and counter-condition him to many of the items listed. Keeping him away for now is fine in order to not make matters worse. But to change his emotional state around these items like appliances, babies, the doll, and anything else that may be lurking, you will need a professional who has good experience with clusters of anxiety/fear related behaviors. You may want to start with a Behaviorist, or a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. Having done this for almost twenty years, I know how nuanced this work can be.
      If you are local, contact me directly, or try these websites to find someone qualified near you:
      http://corecaab.org/qualifications/
      https://m.iaabc.org/
      Best of luck,
      Lisa

    2. I need help for a friend he had asked what can he do for his dog. He had said every time his girlfriend is menstrating he said his Pitbull gets snippy with his 15 month old baby he would like to know what he can do with the situation

  23. Hello, I have a 9 year old Lab/Beagle mix whom is the sweetest dog, never had a problem and is well trained. However, I now have a 1 month old baby who cries a lot, like most babies, and it seems to be stressing my dog out a lot. She has been barking every time the baby cries and recently, past week she tries to get closer to baby to investigate and has been starting to snip or nibble on the babies feet, but hasn’t bitten her (yet), and I am scared as I refuse to get rid of my dog, but my wife reminds me that it is unacceptable for my dog to show aggression or try and nibble at the baby. What can I do? Should I give my dog anxiety medication (vet recommended), as I don’t know how to calm her down as she barks like crazy (previously trained not to bark without cause, i.e. fireworks, people at door, thunder, etc, so typically doesn’t bark unless in those occasions). She now barks each time baby cries and shows increasing levels of aggression each day, where she seemed to try and bite the baby on the swing today! Please help. Thank You!

    1. Hi Matthew,
      I am sorry to hear this and have a few ideas:
      1 – If your vet can help you monitor the medication to be sure it is helpful, it may be worth a try. Remember you should be working with an antidepressant type of medication. Sometimes the dose has to be revisited, and occasionally, like with people, one antidepressant works better than another, so have a long conversation with your vet before you begin any medication. That said, it may very well help.
      2 – Even if you do go the medication route, behavior modification will be necessary because it is the method that will make the real changes for your dog in terms of how she processes the anxiety. The medication is really to allow her brain to be in good receiving mode for the behavior mod. So, that leads me to the next couple suggestions:
      2a – Find a local trainer/behaviorist/behavior consultant who has worked with this type of situation previously. If you are local to me – drop me a note. If not, see this link for three organizations that have good trainer search options by location.
      2b – If you find the trainer idea won’t work, or you want to augment it, I always recommend my gook “Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs.” I wrote this book so parents without access to a trainer could answer their questions and find techniques that will help them keep the dog they love around the baby they love.
      Best of luck and please keep me posted.

  24. My 6 month American bully pitbull always is on the bed chewing on her toys or laying next to me but I also have a 9 month old baby that likes to crawl around and play with toys but Everytime the baby trys to play with the dog or crawls on her she crowls and one time she actually bite the baby I need help finding a way to get her to stop cuz she only dose it to the baby not me or my girl???

    1. Hi Tony,
      I am sorry to hear this. The first thing is to keep the baby and the dog apart. This can mean the use of baby gates, play yards, or baby up above where the dog can reach. I used to love the bouncy chair we had that sat up on kitchen counters, etc. Things like these allow you to train your dog around your baby.
      Next step, is to find a local trainer. It is imperative that your dog have good solid verbal commands around your baby. Especially, since walking is in the near future for you baby.
      See the following websites for trainer searches by location – iaabc.org, ccpdt.org, trulydogfriendly.com.
      I hope this helps and best of luck!

  25. I have a 3 year old Rottweiler he has started growling at me and my 10 month old baby girl he growls at me when I give a command and he doesn’t follow so I grab his collar but with my baby he does it every time ahe gets near him we keep her away when he is eating but we find it weird when my nieces were her age he never growled at them and didn’t have a problem it just seems like he doesn’t like her I’m needing advice I’m really considering getting rid of him but if can find a way to address the issue before it gets that far I would really love some advice

  26. I’ve got two daughters. One is 9 and my baby is 8months old. I have had our dog since he was 4 weeks old and he’s a very smart pitt/lab mix. When pregnant he was always very protective of me. So I thought he would love our baby like he does with our oldest daughter. Our female dog loves our baby but our male pitt could care less. If she crawls near him he will lightly growl than get up and avoid her
    At times he will let her climb on him and I try to avoid it and he will let her near his food and let her play with his toys. But he just doesn’t like her near him at all. He will literally run to other side of the house if she goes near him. I’ve been putting his toys away so she can’t touch them or When she does I just take them away and try to baby him when it’s time. I keep a close eye on her when she’s around both dogs but I just want him to love her! Please help!!

    1. Hi Samantha,
      I am sorry to hear your male pit is less than happy with your baby, and even afraid at times.
      The answer here is, unfortunately, not a short one and won’t fit into a blog. I can say that the descriptions of your male pit’s behavior around the baby are born of fear and/or worry. I would strongly encourage you to not allow the baby to climb on him and never allow them to be together unless you are immediately right there. And, if you do nothing else simply call the male dog out with a yummy lure every time the baby is headed in his direction. He will at least learn to move out of the way for now, and begin to associate positive things with the baby coming in his direction.
      However, the real fix will be in desensitizing and counterconditioning him to your youngest daughter. This is a process, but one that can be embedded into everyday life with your family. You will need a local positive reinforcement trainer to help you, or there are tips in my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs.” There is a except from PDBB posted here on the dogs growling at the baby.
      I would also recommend the use of baby gates to allow your baby to play without you worrying about where your male dog is. Either the baby or the dog can be gated into the appropriate space. Management like this is essential to building a good relationship because it prevents big mistakes made by dog or baby and therefore allows you to build the good relationship you want.
      Again, if you have not already, please check out these websites for local trainers, IAABC, CCPDT, Truly Dog Friendly.
      Best of luck!

  27. I have a 6 year old male Beagle/Jack Russel mix. When I first brought our baby home our doggie really didn’t show any interest at all in him. Occasionally though when he would cry, doggie would bark or act as if he didn’t like the sound. As baby got bigger and he had tummy time, doggie might get close and sniff him once or twice but generally just ignored him. Once baby started crawling though the problems started. If baby would crawl towards doggie he would growl at him. We love our doggie and would never want to get rid of him. I got him for my now 13 year old son when he was just a puppy but he is definitely a family pet. So to be safe I got a very large baby play yard, put it up in the living room and decided to just keep them separated at all times. Doggie will sit just outside of it though often watching baby play but then he growls if baby gets too close to him, even though he’s on the other side of the play yard. We sternly tell doggie no and move baby away from him when this happens. Baby is now one year old and starting to walk. I know I’m on very limited time before baby will be climbing over the play yard and I will have to take it down. I’m so afraid once that happens I will have to either keep doggie outside or in my older son’s room at all times to keep him from possibly biting baby. I would hate to do this because he’s always been such a loyal, loving companion but I truly don’t know what else to do as I can’t take the chance of baby being badly hurt. Baby is already used to playing easy with dogs because our sitter has a dog that adores him. Every day sitters dog greets him with a lick and baby loves it. This only makes keeping baby and doggie separated at home more difficult though because baby doesn’t understand that while he can pet sitters dog, he can’t even get close to ours. Please help me find a way to reassure our furry friend that he’s safe and we still love him so hopefully he’ll see there’s no reason to growl at or, even worse, bite the baby.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for the info. I have a couple thoughts on these issues.
      1 – Because there will need to be some more training for your dog (and baby too) that will take time, more management will be in order to keep everyone safe while the training is on going. You already have the play yard which is great. It will be time to put in some strategic walk-through gates. I have one on the website that will give you some ideas, but as usual, Amazon will have other suggestions too, so just click on that and see what works for you.
      2 – Keeping them separate now while they are learning how to be with each other is good, however, it is not workable for the lifetime of your dog. Use these separate times, either behind gates, or with baby in play yard to make your dog HAPPY about the baby. This is a desensitization and counter-conditioning process. I outline much of this in my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs.” It is available on Amazon, or in the library. Then you may need a professional trainer to walk you through some of the tricker portions, or the tips in the book may be enough.
      3 – It is essential that your dog no longer gets into trouble around the baby, no scolding, no stern voice, etc. Your dog needs to LOVE being around the baby (hence the DS/CC just mentioned). For now the simplest thing will be to treat your dog whenever he sees the baby and is not reacting badly. And, if he does I like the “touch” command or the “out you go” command to send the dog away from the child. This does reward the dog, but it rewards the dog for moving away from the baby. This we like! Because, no matter how good you guys are at DS/CC and management, there will always be a time when your dog doesn’t like what the baby is doing and being able to teach and reinforce a ‘move away’ behavior for the dog is great. It is like teaching the dog, “When you don’t like it, just leave.”
      You are correct that time is not on your side as your younger son will soon be toddling and getting the dog even more upset and worried. So, please take advantage of the info in the book and a good solid Positive Reinforcement trainer in your area.
      Best of Luck!

  28. Thanks for all the advice you have given us. But I have a question. We have a 5 year old neutered male pitbull mix and a 9 month old spayed female Pitbull/Doberman mix. We also have a 9 month old grand son in the house who is quite active. Our pup is very loving, quite docile and gentle with the baby but the 5 year old is not. He normally avoids the baby or ignores him altogether. But now that baby is on the move, he’s been viewing the baby in a predatory nature. We never leave the baby and dog unsupervised. And when the dog gets the aggressive stance we put him in the breezeway that has a baby gate. By separating him from his “pack”, even for short periods, will this make him more aggressive because he’s being left out? Getting more jealous of the baby? We have a family friend who is going to take the 5 year old dog but he’s looking for a house. So in the meantime, what would you recommend? Exactly what we are doing?

    1. Hi Sherry,
      Great job having a place for the 5-YO to go when you see trouble brewing. We can’t really know what may be going on in his head. It could be anything from, “Hey! I don’t want to be in here.” to “Thank goodness, I get a break.” While you are waiting for your friend to be able to take the 5 YO, it would be great to begin working on the settle command, which is a relaxed position where the dog gets paid Very Well for just hanging out. This would be done on leash with your grandson in the room but not close by the dog and doing a fairly sedate activity like playing with blocks. This will help the 5 YO dog to begin to associate good things in a relaxed position while being around the grandson. Depending on the strength of the 5 YO and his level of discomfort, it might be a good idea to have a play yard up. I used to put my son in the play yard when he was small enough while I worked the multiple dogs’s settles around the play yard. Depending on the size of the dog, he could be the one in the play yard getting the great treats for his settle while your grandson plays at a distance from him. This settle can also be done when the 5 YO is on the other side of the gate so he can watch your grandson, and be well rewarded for hanging out in a relaxed manner.
      Essentially, you are currently managing the situation which is great and very important. And, the 5 YO will need to be taught/conditioned how to be happy around the grandson – that is where the settle comes in. If you don’t know how to do the settle, it is outlined in my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby.” You can also try local trainers, but be careful, it is imperative that the settle be relaxed and sometimes it takes some doing before the dog relaxes in the situation.
      Hope that helps and best of luck!

  29. I have an almost 10yr old Chihuahua mix (mixed with minpin and shizu, sorry if both are spelt wrong) anyhow, I also have a 3yr old toddler. The two play together, my 3yr old can pet the dog everything no problems. Except when it comes to his food. My son can not even walk in the door, which is about 5 feet from food, without my dog barking at him, nipping at him and trying to go after him. He is the same way with other animals. Today, my son was sitting on the floor petting the dog next to the door everything was fine. My son stopped petting the dog and my dog out of no lunged at my son face and nipped him. It didnt break skin or anything but it has my son scared shitless (excuse my language) my son is absolutely terrified! Im at a lost, I don’t know what else to do. We just moved ro a different state, so don’t really have anyone i know around me. Please help!!

    1. Hi Chantelle,
      I am sorry to hear this. It is not easy to know what to do at first. Begin with very high levels of management for now until you can consult a local trainer. Until you have some strategies and some training exercises going, your son and dog should not be close enough for an encounter like this, unless you are RIGHT there and can easily redirect either of them. While you are looking for local trainers to help out, see if you can get a hold of my book, “Please Don’t Bite the Baby.” I wrote this with tips throughout when dealing with young children and dogs with some complicated issues. It will get you started.

      For local trainers, try the following websites: Truly Dog Friendly, IAABC, and CCPDT. All of these have trainer searches by location.

      Good luck and please keep us posted!

        1. Beautiful – and be sure you are well within reaching distance – just to be safe right now as you look for a local trainer. All best!

  30. Hi. I have a 6 or7 year old chihuahua dachshund mix that we rescued. We got him before we had our daughter. Our daughter is 17 months old and he growls at her whenever she’s near him. She doesn’t have any interest in him, but if she’s near he’ll growl. Today he lunged for her and but her hair. Luckily she has a lot of hair and he didn’t break skin. What should I do?

    1. Hi Bernadette,
      Thanks for the question. I am so sorry to hear your dog is not happy with your daughter. I wrote about a situation similar to this in “Please Don’t Bite the Baby,” where a client of mine had a small dog who barked, lunged, and growled at the baby. We instituted a heavy management protocol and training to teach humans and dog how to get the dog out of the room happily when necessary, how to settle outside of the room the baby was in and then eventually in the room with the baby. They succeeded and are all living happily five years later.
      You may need to reach out to a professional trainer who has experience with dogs and kids, and has experience teaching a relaxed protocol (I call it settle – others call it relax) so your dog learns it is good to be around the toddler. You can also pick up a copy of “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” and follow the tips outlined at the end of each chapter. It is on Amazon, paperback or digital. It is also in most local libraries.
      And for right now, your dog and baby should not be together in the same room until you have gotten some training tips working.
      Hope that helps

  31. I have a 8 month old baby and 2 year old maltese. We were very careful about not neglecting the dog when baby arrived, slowly introduced them etc. Most of the time the dog licks his feet and all is well. When he is crawling the dog will try to lick his feet but tries to nip … also sometimes if I bring the baby down to see the dog she will actaully try to bite. And growls out of no where .. no warning just attack mode. I have never let my son pull or bother the dog most of the time she approaches him while he is in his jumper or crawling. We have a behaviour therapist starting next week .. can this be fixed?

    1. Hi Stacey,

      Thanks for the comment. I am sorry to hear of this, I know how hard it is to want everyone to get along right away.

      That said, it sometimes take time for us to build the sense of safety our dog’s need around our new little humans. Hopefully your behaviorist will be able to help.
      I do usually advise picking up a copy of “Please Don’t Bite the Baby…” I wrote it so there would be tips in every chapter and the memoir portion gives the tips clarity as to how and when to use them. It was not easy keeping my son safe around my crazy crew, but we did. Now, I worry about the dog, not the child 😉

      Talk to your behaviorist and your vet to see if trying some calming supplements or even an SSRI will help.

      I wish you the best of luck, and remember when in doubt, just get the dog out – it is faster and easier. This is for the long haul, they don’t have to be perfect together today, just safe, then down the road it will be better.

  32. My dog is 4.5 months and my daughter is almost 15months if he has a toy and she walks by him or if she has a toy that he wants he will growl at her and nip. He is also resorce guarding but only with my daughter. I am going to order the book but are there any things I can do between now and then? I separate them during feedings.

  33. Im currently 34weeks pregnant with my first child. We have 3 dogs. Two of them being American bullies. Cross of American bulldog and American staff terrier. One is super sweet and loves every animal person she meets 1 year old. Our 1.5year old male only likes dogs, and not other animals. While preparing them for baby we let them smell an outfit in a doll used by my 6month old niece. Our female smells it and sits. Our male jumps, barks, and bites at the doll. We even let him smell the outfit before putting it on the doll and he was fine, but then walking around he was trying to attack it. Is this something that can be corrected or does baby and dog always have to be separated?

    1. Hi Sonya,
      Thanks for asking these questions before baby arrives – it helps the dogs a lot. Separation/management is the best way to be sure everyone is safe and allow you to arrange times to begin training the behaviors you want to see from your dogs around the baby. This is the tricky part with three dogs – time to train! I like to train my dogs to settle around the baby, get out on a cue (usually returning to a gated portion of the house), drop-it and leave-it. There are many, many other skills, but the first rule is to keep everyone safe so you can “live to train another day” as the saying goes with a little dog training twist. I usually recommend the “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” book because there are so many tips outlined, how to train, how to manage, what to look for, when to move on the the next step. And, if you don’t want to read the memoir portion (although it is there to give context as to why we do certain things), you can go directly to the tips section of each chapter – E-book would allow that easily. Unfortunately, there is no one thing that will keep baby safe around dogs, and there are many options to help the dogs behave better around our babies. Please don’t stop working with your dogs – and again, thanks for thinking of them ahead of time!

      Best of Luck!

  34. We have two labs. They will be 11 in March. We have two older children and have never had any problems. About a month ago, my youngest son who is 20 months old and a bit more agressive in general was laying near her and I believe may have leaned too hard on her back lega. Our dog bit him near the top of his head. We were distraught and not sure what to do. We have been very careful to watch him around her and so far so good. Until tonight, the kids were running around the living room chasing eachother with a blanket. The blanket landed on the dog and when my 20month old gently reached for it to pull it off of her, the dog turned to snap at him. Right in front of us. I love thus dog but, this is becoming very concerning as we have neighbors and many other kids near us.

    1. I am sorry to hear this and can relate to the conflict you must be feeling. At 11 some labs will be suffering (like many of us humans as we get older) age related joint stiffness, and/or soreness. It is also possible hearing has begun to fail a bit (we don’t often see the signs of this when another dog is in the house as many times they act as the other’s hearing or seeing dog). It would be worth a trip to the vet to have a complete physical with a complete blood work up if you have not done that lately.

      Because you son is now well into his toddling phase, this too can spook many dogs who don’t have any aging issues. Toddlers move strangely and unpredictably, which is a trigger for many dogs.

      My fist suggestion is to stand back and ask what are the options – I suspect you have done that. Of all of them is there one that is not great, but not horrible? Usually there is – I like high end management. For dogs who are having trouble adjusting to a new baby, or the new phase of toddling child, I love gates and other physical management techniques. This allow the dog to adjust to the child’s new activity level (because she can still see your son through the gate) in safety. I will then teach a settle on the other side of the gate and when I think everyone is ready begin to bring the dog into the room for the settle when your son is up and about, provided your son can follow your directions, and when he cannot or things get nutty – the dog goes out for the safety of everyone (including the dog)

      We often sigh with disappointment when we are faced with leaving our behoved dog out of the family activity. I have done just this, but I remind myself that having Pinball safely away when my son is playing roughly or running around crazy, allows Pinball to stay with us, and for me not to have to consider re-homing (which for an older dog is very difficult) or other options worse than rehoming.

      In short, I would move heaven and earth to get some good gates with a good lock (I have my favorite on the Threedogstraining.com website in the shop, but you may like others). Then start by having your son and dog separated whenever your attention cannot be fully on the two and you cannot be within elbow to finger reach of your child and dog.

      I will be posting an excerpt from my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” on the blog shortly which may help, but there is far more to say about this than fits in a blog. And in the interim “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” is available on Amazon for assistance, AND, it would be a good idea to reach out to some positive reinforcement dog trainers (who have worked with managing kids and dog) in your area. If you are not local to me, look to , ,

      Please keep us posted and we wish you all the best.

  35. We have a 3 year old St. Bernard mix who we are not sure what to do with. Every since we brought baby home she has been acting strange. She barks uncontrollably and will not come in the house after being outside unless we give her treats and sometimes she will come to the door to be let in, we go to open the door and she runs away. Our son is 7 months old now and we noticed that she tries humping him and will nudge him and whine. She has always had some food aggression but now it’s become so bad that she nips. We have 3 older children 10 and 2 16 year Olds and they cannot even get near her food. We have been showing her more affection and making sure she knows who the pact leader is. She has become extremely unpredictable and seems worse with every step we’ve tried. We are at a point where we are thinking of finding her a new home. She is great with anyou adult but not with any child that comes into our home.

    1. Hi Kristi,

      I am sorry to hear this. It cannot be a good thing for anyone (k9 or human) in the house.

      There are a number of strategies that I like to implement when I have a client whose dog is not doing well with a new baby. I don’t know where you are located, but ideally a local CDBC (iaabc.org) or CPDT (ccpdt.org) should be able to help you navigate through this. I wish I had a quick answer to these complicated issues, but unfortunately each dog and each household brings different factors. For the resource guarding, be sure to manage feeding so she can be in a quiet place to eat with the least amount of stress. Resource guarding has a very large anxiety component so it is not unusual to see an already existing RGing issue increase when a baby comes home.

      For the humping and nudging. Ideally I don’t let 7 month-old babies and dogs to get that close without me being right next to them, less than arm’s reach. If you follow this, you can redirect your dog with simple commands that she knows and then praise her for complying. My favorite here is the settle command. This is one of the easiest and most complicated commands for our dogs, but ultimately it teaches your dog to just hang out around your baby without doing anything.

      The commands I see from your post that will be the most important are: Settle, Touch, Sit, Down, Come, Leave-it, and Drop-it.

      If you guys are good at training on your own but need guidance for these, “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” has all of these in easy to follow format. If you learn better when someone demonstrates these things, then refer back to the CDBC and CPDT trainer searches.

      I hope this is helpful.

  36. I came across this while looking online for information on this issue.
    We adopted our dog Lacey 2 1/2 years ago from the SPCA. She had been a stray so there was no background on her but she was very nervous and fearful/jumpy and excitable. She was also extremely possessive of food and has bitten twice in the past when guarding food. We’ve worked hard to build her confidence through positive reinforcement and she is now no longer scared of people at all and is generally much calmer and relaxed. Her food aggression is much better and we work on this as an ongoing thing but I would still never trust her 100% due to her previous.
    My husband and I plan to start a family in the next 2-3 years but I really want Lacey to be in a good place before we introduce a baby into her life. I also obviously wouldn’t want to risk her causing any harm to a child so I am looking for information on what we can be doing with her to help prepare her for this over the next couple of years. I don’t worry about Lacey doing something to a child for no reason but I worry about what will happen when the baby starts to crawl/walk and if it might do something to bother her or gets too close to a toy/food and she snaps. Is there any advice you can give on what we can be doing for Lacey over the next couple of years before bringing in a baby to the family?
    Is the book available in the UK?

    1. Hi Chiara,
      Sorry for the delay – the Thanksgiving holiday here slows everything down. “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” would be the perfect book to help you help Lacey get ready for a new baby. You will see a good number of pre-baby tips in there as well as some direct exercises and strategies for once baby arrives. It is available on Amazon, so there should be no problem buying the US edition shipping to UK. Please let me know if you have any problems and good luck!

  37. My mom’s 10yr old dog has recently been following my 8mo old daughter closely. At first I thought he was being sweet and licking her but now I’m not sure because today when my daughter was pulling herself up on the couch he lunged forward and nipped her. He Didnt break the skin but it’s made me very nervous. I generally don’t leave her alone with dogs and always keep her from accidentally tugging on him. She wasn’t even reaching for him just pulling herself up. Any suggestions?

    1. Thanks for asking this question. Very glad that you have been managing interactions as you daughter grows and your mother’s dog gets used to the every changing little human that he may not completely understand. My first suggestion is to increase management between you mother’s dog and your daughter. I outline a number of different levels of management strategies in “Please Don’t Bite the Baby,” and would strongly suggest picking up a copy to help you go through these steps. Following that, I would review the basic skills your mother’s dog has and work on a few of the really important ones like settle, directional commands like place, out you go, etc., then set up times when you mother’s can watch your daughter playing and exploring her new skills like crawling, pulling herself up, the beginnings of walking, etc. Your mother’s dog should be well rewarded for just watching and doing nothing as your daughter demonstrates the new things that she can do. He is going to have to get used to and happy with her changing right before his eyes. Hope that helps and “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” will give you many more tips and suggestions.

  38. We have a 3 year old GSD who hasn’t really shown much interest in our 8 month old baby. He will tolerate him chasing him around in his walker, doesn’t really care to pay much attention to him… But today he dropped his ball inside the area I have gated where my baby plays. Obviously my 8 month old can’t throw a ball back to the dogs so he was just holding it. My GSD got very mad and charged the gate. If the gate had not been there he would have probably bit him. What am I to do? I won’t be able to contain my baby for much longer he will be walking soon and he will grab toys on the floor. How can I assure that my dog won’t attack him for taking one of his toys?

    1. Hi Amanda,

      I’m sorry to hear this, but very glad you emailed. First thing on your list is (if you have not already) is pick up a copy of download the electronic version of my book, Please Don’t Bite the Baby. You will find step-by-step training tips in the second half of each chapter. The first half of each chapter is more for you to see via the narrative that you are not alone in this. Your second step will be to contact a local trainer who has experience with kids and dogs. I would go to any of the following websites to look (unless you are near me, then we can speak): Truly Dog Friendly or Family Paws or IAABC.
      Hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other questions.
      All best,
      Lisa

  39. Kim,

    What did you end up doing? Right now we have a 5 year old lab/ pit mix. She has started showing aggression towards my 11 month old niece. I was just wondering what you ended up doing with your dog?

    1. I don’t know what happened in this case because this was an online query and not a local client whose progress I was following.

      I can say that many of my local clients (and myself) have successfully trained and managed our dogs who were less than trilled with the new baby to the point where we could all live happily and safely. I have chronicled my journey through this process in my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs.” This book will also give you great tips to help keep kids of any age safe around your dogs.

      1. I have a 1.5 mastiff,pit mix . He is good with my daughter expect when she wants to climb on him or he is sleeping. She was near his toy and he nipped at her . How do I train him no to nip?

        1. Hi Heidi,
          There are two things I would recommend.
          #1 – I would never recommend letting your child climb on any dog – good dog or not so good dog. It is hard on the dog, and if they are uncomfortable, they will let the child know. Usually, this is not in a way we like, but in a dog way, like growling, nipping, etc. Teach your daughter to treat your dog the way she would like to be treated, gently, in a cooperative way, etc., and you will get two benefits, less risk with the dog, and early learning in empathy for your daughter – win-win!
          #2 – I would teach your dog a really reliable “come” or “touch” command to get the dog to move to you when you see your daughter starting to climb on him. She may forget, or not way to comply, or just be a kid, and you need to be able to teach the dog that leaving the situation is way better than a nip, growl, etc., and the “come” or “touch” command will let you do that to help them both.
          If you need help getting those reliable, contact a local trainer, check out the IAABC, CCPDT, and Truly Dog Friendly websites. You can also see the “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” book.
          Hope that helps and all best,
          lj

  40. Our 3 year old lab mix has been showing food aggression toward our 11 month old son. It doesn’t matter if it is her food or his. She has growled and snipped at him never making contact. She also does this when she is laying and the baby messes with her back legs and such. But she doesn’t care if hangs off her face or neck. I just don’t want a growl and snip to turn into a bite we will regret. What to do?

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