Building a safe Dog/Baby Relationship

Brody and Baby-L – How this beautiful relationship got started

In August of 2018, Jessica reached out to me regarding her dog Brody and her son (aka Baby-L).

She kept me updated over the years and has given me permission to share her story of love, safety, and success.

“When we brought Baby-L home I felt like I was drowning in fear and anxiety because of our dog, and I honestly thought I would never come out of it.  Obviously, I still manage and watch them carefully, but I do feel confident and I am much more emotionally relaxed while I help them build their relationship.”

Jessica’s note from September 2020
All Three Dogs Training’s clients fill out a behavioral questionnaire. Some of the items from Jessica’s questionnaire were:
  • “Brody’s overexcitement/anxiety makes him very jumpy, barky, and all worked up when something out of the ordinary happens (guests, car rides, etc.).
  • I do not believe that my dog would hurt my baby but…
Brody had a history with a toddler in the family.
  • “We cannot close Brody off in his own room without him crying and barking and digging at the door (he dug a hole in the upstairs carpet …)
  • I want to help him learn it’s okay to be away from us and have him learn to relax away from the action. We joke that he has FOMO (fear of missing out).”
Brody’s FOMO was going to get in the way of the positive association exercises he needed.

Jessica worked on teaching Brody skills to be comfortable around Baby-L while separated by a gate or play yard, or very focused oversight.

When a dog is on the other side of a baby gate or play yard he can watch baby’s development and learn to be okay with a crawling, toddling child. It also allows us to be able to give our dog commands and rewards for being quiet and calm around the baby.

More details on this can be found in Please Don’t Bite the Baby and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs, Gates and Crates! pg 52

Skills Jessica worked on:
Watch Brody go from feeling left out to being relaxed around his toddler
  • Settle
    • With and Without the Treat n Train
      • At first with Jessica was in the room with Brody
    • Then Brody was on the other side of a
    • She worked short departures like going upstairs or visa versa while leaving Brody with GREAT toys (stuffed with food)
    • She encouraged any calm behavior around the Baby-L
More to come…

Dog Gates and Crates

Teaching our dogs how to be happy on the other side of a gate or in their crate is pretty easy but will take a bit of attention and training.

In a crate or behind a baby gate is a lovely and secure place for dogs to spend time when you’re not at home or you can’t be watching them because you’re in the shower, taking care of a baby, or busy making dinner, just to name a few.

The techniques in the excerpt below will apply to crate and gate training equally. Whether you are crating for puppy potty and house manners, or gating so you dog can see your baby having floor time, the process will be the same.

Behind the gate or in the crate should be a safe place where your dog is not disturbed and where they can have fun with wonderful safe things like – toys, food, treats, a kong, a bone, and more. Remember if crating for puppy potty training, the size of the crate should be large enough for your pup to turn around, lie down, and stand up without crouching. More on puppy potty and manners in the Puppy 101 series.

An excerpt from:
Pg 52 – 54
Teaching our dogs how to be happy on the other side of a gate or in their crate is pretty easy but will take a bit of attention and training.
  • We begin by tossing a treat for our dog as we close the door of the baby gate (or crate) so the dog is on the other side.
  • Then treat him for being on the other side of the gate or crate. Take a step away, then return and treat him.
  • Take enough steps away so you cannot reach him and toss the treat.
  • Return to the gate and treat him. Then move farther away and toss the treat. Repeat this rotation of reaching out to hand them a treat and tossing him a treat from farther away. You don’t want him thinking you always have to be near the gate or crate for him to get something. He needs to never know when he might get rewarded except that it is when he is on the other side of the gate or in the crate. Once he has figured this out, you can move to the next step.
  • NOTE—if your dog starts to jump or bark, you should turn away, walk away, and IGNORE him—DO NOT TALK to him, DO NOT LOOK at him. As soon as he is quiet—toss the treat. Your dog will figure out quickly that quiet gets him what he wants.
  • If your dog will work for his kibble—great. However, if not, you will need a treat that is higher value. Please be sure to read the ingredients of the treats and look for treats that have meat as the first ingredient.
  • Once your dog is happily standing quietly on the other side of the gate or in the crate, then start asking the dog to settle there. Follow the settle directions from above adjusting for your being on the other side of a gate or crate.
  • Eventually you walk away from the gate or the crate and go do something. If you will be doing something that won’t allow you to intermittently return to the dog to treat him, or you won’t be able to toss him a treat, for example if you are taking a nap or a shower, leave him with a Kong, stuffed bone, or puzzle toy so he is happily occupied while you are otherwise engaged.
  • Eventually, when your dog is on the other side of a gate or in the crate, you will no longer need to interact with him because he will be content with this place and not need further assistance.
  • If your dog is really opposed to being alone, however, there will be some setbacks. You can always feed him his meals on the other side of the gate or in his crate while you are in another room in addition to working the above steps.

Pinball getting sleepy in his crate.

NOTE:

If your dog hurts himself in the crate you will want to try to build happy crate time following the steps above but at a much slower pace and only for occasional use. While you may not envision putting your dog in a crate regularly, there are situations in addition to management that will call for your dog to have crate time, such as: the dog is lost and taken in by Animal Control, or the dog is injured or must undergo surgery that requires them to be crate-rested for a period of time. If your dog finds himself in either of these situations and is unhappy in the crate, he will be extremely stressed and may hurt himself while crated and his crate fears will only increase. If your dog simply cannot adjust to a crate, do not force the issue.

For more tips on keeping dogs and kids safe together see:

Please Don’t Bite the Baby and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs.

Whole Dog Journal article

Recommends “Please Don’t Bite the Baby” as a resource for ‘dog-owning’ parents.

For those of you who don’t subscribe to the PleaseDon’tBitetheBaby blog, I am cross-posting:

Once again Pat Miller CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA has written a lovely article for the Whole Dog Journal that offers families with dogs some great tips on keeping kids and dogs safe around each other.

If you subscribe to The Whole Dog Journal, you will see the March 2018 edition with the article: “Kidding Around, Combining kids and dogs in your family can be magical and heartwarming, or cause a devastating tragedy…”

If you don’t subscribe to WDJ, I highly recommend you do, and not just for this article, there is so much more.

At least a half a dozen times a month I recommend WDJ to new dog families and even established dog families for the journal’s ongoing commitment to information on training, behavior, health, various products from harnesses to toys, and the annual food guides are invaluable.

Thanks go to Pat Miller and The Whole Dog Journal for reminding families of the some of the ways they can make their dogs and kids safe together. And, thanks go from me for the nice nod to Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs.

Every family can work to make their kids and dogs safe around each other with some management, training, and time.

Resource Guarding – “Please Don’t Bite the Baby”

Excerpt… “Please Don’t Bite the Baby”

Resource Guarding can be one of the trickiest behavioral issues to modify and manage because there are so many variations.

Some dogs only guard their food

Some guard toys

Some guard bones

Some guard anything that hits the floor

Some guard whatever it was they just stole

Regardless of what your dog guards and to what degree, the process is the same.

There will be adjustments for management and time needed to modify the behavior, but ultimately it is all about teaching your dog that giving up something is far more profitable then guarding it.

And, occasionally, the guarding will pop up for the rest of your dog’s life during stressful periods, or high energy/excited play, but by keeping your dog’s skills in good working order, you will be able to easily resolve any guarding issues.

I have lived with, Pinball, the ‘Super Villain of Resource Guarding’ and have posted an excerpt about my strategies for working through his issues from my book “Please Don’t Bite the Baby, and Please Don’t Chase the Dogs.”

We were all a bit worried when our son arrived in our home with the ‘Super villain of Resource Guarding’ living there. However, by teaching Pinball good solid commands, and slowly allow him and my son to spend managed time together, we saw things we never expected to see. This video where Charlie Brown Takes a Dive is a great example of how far a resource guarding dog can come with some skills, management, and persistence.

In the end, if your dog guards things, training good skills then working with a good behavior consultant is essential to take those skills and turn them into more positive behaviors.