Worrisome Dog Behaviour

rrDog MPB and Baby MPB are not the best of friends.  Or rather, Baby MPB thinks Dog MPB is his very best friend in the world.  Dog MPB is not convinced.  It’s clearly not a reciprocal love.

Dog MPB is a large dog, and we have always been very aware that she’s never been exposed to a lot of children.  So, we’ve always been very cautious when children are around and we never leave Baby MPB unattended with the Dog MPB, you know, to make sure Dog MPB doesn’t eat Baby MPB.

When Baby MPB first arrived at home, Dog MPB went into a bit of a depression and hid from us.  She also got jealous of the attention other women (not men) gave Baby MPB, but she seems to have mostly outgrown this as our female friends have helped the situation by ensuring they give the dog lots of attention when they first arrive.

20160704 - Celebration4There has been the odd sweet moment when Baby MPB is able to pet Dog MPB.  But there have been no cuddles between the two of them, and that’s okay.  The reality of their relationship is now that Baby MPB is very mobile he often tries to get close to Dog MPB and 90% of the time Dog MPB just leaves the room.  We’ve encouraged this response from Dog MPB and always ensure Dog MPB has an “escape route” and never feels backed into a corner.

When Baby MPB started eating solids, Dog MPB became much more interested in Baby MPB.  While Baby MPB eats in his highchair we have always allowed Dog MPB to be around cleaning up the dropped food.  And, when Baby MPB is eating Dog MPB accepts his pets/fur pulling and Dog MPB will even happily lick Baby MPB’s hands clean when Baby MPB offers them.

We truly thought the introduction of Baby MPB as a treat dispenser would help them build a positive relationship.  And it worked.  Dog MPB still doesn’t lay around to be climbed all over, but her doggy depression seemed to lift once Baby MPB began eating.  Dog MPB really does tolerate Baby MPB existence a lot better since the introduction of solids.

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BUT, things are changing.  And, the MPB adults are not okay with the change.

It happened once or twice before, but never with any regularity.  We let the first few instances go because they were just one off occurrences.

But, in the last week it seems to be becoming a regular occurrence.  So last night Mr. MPB and I agreed it’s time for a permanent change.

Let me make something clear before I explain the change – Dog MPB has not actually done anything aggressive, but we believe there are signs that she may.  So, we have decided we need to take precautionary action now before something does happen.

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When Baby MPB is done eating we always clean him up before taking him out of the high chair.  Dog MPB has started barking at Baby MPB when we are in this process.  The barking seems to be her sign that she desperately wants Baby MPB out of the chair so that she can eat any food that’s fallen into the seat.  This is the ONLY time Dog MPB has ever barked at Baby MPB and we really don’t like it.  Barking is not normal for Dog MPB as she only ever barks at strangers coming to the door (like a good 90lbs black dog who is pretending to be a guard dog).  And when she barks she takes a rather aggressive stance and has her mouth directly at Baby MPB’s feet.  Needless to say, it just doesn’t feel right to the adult MPB’s.

I truly don’t think Dog MPB would ever bite Baby MPB.  But, I also know I’m not willing to take that risk as I really like Baby MPB having all 10 toes and the potential consequences for Dog MPB should she bite Baby MPB are just too horrible to think about.

So last night the Adult MPB’s made the decision that effective immediately Dog MPB and Baby MPB will always be separate during meal times.  The baby gates will go up around the kitchen while Baby MPB is eating and after Baby MPB is out of his highchair the we will open the gates so that Dog MPB can clean up in and around the high chair.  Thus, we are removing the interaction and hopefully the problem.

Does anyone have any other advice/strategies we should consider?

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14 Comments on “Worrisome Dog Behaviour

  1. Hmmm…we have a very bad mannered 100 lb black lab when it comes to food so he barks at us all the time when he thinks we’re not eating fast enough for his liking, lol. I do feed the daycare kids in the basement now instead of bringing them up for lunch and make sure the basement door is shut tightly because he will just steal the food right off their plates/high chair. I think if you’re uncomfortable with it, than you’re doing the right thing.

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  2. We’ve had to do the same. E thinks it is hilarious to feed our dog. He would gladly give her ALL of his dinner so unfortunately for our dog, she gets put in jail. She was also very wary when E first started walking. She had just gotten a handle on the crawling and then the tiny human stood up! The steadier he got, the more she relaxed. Now she doesn’t seem to give it much thought.

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  3. Our 13lb blind wiener dog has always been passive aggressive and we worried how she would act when Luke was born. We ended up putting her on trazadone to calm her at night and so far everything has been good. Like dog MPB she loves getting Luke’s leftovers but we would never trust her around him without being watched. She does have good aggression and like you we remove Luke from the kitchen (and vice versa) if she’s in there as to avoid a problem completely. Hopefully you guys are fixing the problem . Good luck!

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  4. I think you’re doing the right thing. It will also teach dog MPB that what he is doing is not ok and that he will get his time once baby MPB is safely out of the chair. You’re taking precautionary measures and I think that’s important. You’re probably right in that dog MPB likely would never hurt baby MPB, but airing on the side of caution is an ok thing to do. We have an 8 month old puppy and she usually gets separated from our 17 month old son when it’s eating time otherwise she’s snatching food out of his hands or trying to eat off of his tray. So we are training both baby and dog to behave at meal time.

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  5. We have a 40kg lab and when he was a puppy we didn’t allow him anywhere near us when there was food around as we didn’t want him to associate our affection with food. As a result he is very good with food and doesn’t pay it too much attention. I think it’s good to separate them if there is even a hint of a problem. Perhaps as a reinforcement you could give her a small treat at the end of mealtimes once she is allowed back in?

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  6. There are canine behavioral specialists the help parents manage the trial of integrating all of the family members. I highly recommend you seek one out (that actually has the certification). These folks really know their stuff and see dog behaviors outside of our own biases and perceptions. Dog training is hard in general, I very much know this. It’s incredibly helpful when you can get a valuable outsiders opinion and help with a plan going forward.

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  7. This is exactly what we’ve done. Dogs stay in the kitchen behind the baby gate while we eat. Otherwise, Twix was shoving her nose between C’s legs to get whatever she dropped in her lap. We also have the problem that Charlotte finds it hilarious to feed the dogs, so she ends up feeding them half of her meal. One more reason we had to separate them. I’d say our dogs are really just now starting to get used to Charlotte. Twix was seriously depressed for a long time after C was born. We were really worried about her. Rolo has been ok, but he mostly keeps his distance. C is totally enamored with both of them, and they’re just starting to feel like they might be willing to reciprocate that love on occasion. We just watch really closely to make sure she doesn’t overstep their boundaries. (Like when she tries to sit on them!)

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  8. I raised two kids alongside three dogs and so have had a lot of experience with this. My number one focus was to train the kids in how to treat the dogs, not the reverse. Our kids were taught never to wake a sleeping dog or to approach their food bowls. Just two examples from many.
    Dogs are pack animals and will accept new humans and quickly subordinate themselves even to babies as long as they feel secure in their own place in the pack. So separating them from communal activities – like mealtimes – will make them more insecure.
    I would suggest the opposite approach. Let the dog lie next to you while you give the baby a bottle. Let the dog sniff and even lick the baby. Bring the two together as much as possible. Let the dog know you still love him/her as much as ever.
    But most of all – don’t let the dog feel that you worry every time he approaches the baby. Dogs are incredibly sensitive to their people’s feelings. Your apprehension will become his/her apprehension. Instinct will kick in to protect YOU.

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  9. I think you’re absolutely doing the right thing. While I don’t know your dog, I would say that she’s probably not being “mean” at all by barking at him, but rather trying to hurry him up to drop something. That being said, if there’s anything questionable at all, it’s best to separate them early before there’s a chance for anything to happen. I wondered what the cats would do when we brought C home, especially Pickles because he’s very possessive of me and can be jealous. I’m very thankful that so far they’ve all been really good with her…I wonder what will happen when she becomes mobile though! Hopefully things stay calm between your little and your furry!

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  10. It sounds like you’re doing everything right! It seems like she and baby MPB are working things out now. It’s hard to know whether the barking would lead to more, but its a great idea to remove that experience so you never have to find out. Dogs are wonderful (I know, I have three) but also can be unpredictable and it can really be scary when there is a little one involved. Removing the situation that is causing the anxiety/excitement is a great way to mitigate her behaviour. As my nephews have grown, my dogs become more and more easy with them because they are less “grabby, pully and climby” (for lack of better words).

    P.S: Baby MPB’s little chubby hand is ADORABLE!!

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  11. I think you’re absolutely right to be cautious. We’ve been going through something similar, where as S has gotten more mobile, our dog has clearly gotten more uncomfortable with him. We’re keeping a close eye out for situations that seem to make our dog uncomfortable, and avoiding them. The trickiest seems to be right before bedtime, when S wants to be crawling/cruising/pushing stuff around, and the dog just wants to relax and lie in one spot without dodging the wiggleworm. Like you, we’re trying to encourage our dog to retreat when necessary, and keeping S away from her sleeping / eating areas. We haven’t had the same mealtime issues as you yet, but I think you’re doing the right thing. Another possibility might be to train doggie MPB to lie in a down-stay under the dining room table while Baby MPB eats, and only let her up once he’s out of the high chair. I don’t know how hard you’ve worked on the down-stay, but the ~half-hour of dinnertime is a totally reasonable expectation to work up to, and under the dining room table makes a nice little retreat spot / dog cave for our dog — almost like a crate would. It might be enough separation for her to respect the boundaries while still keeping her part of the pack. Just an idea — I hope you find something that works for everyone. If our dog started barking at the baby, I’d be worried too!

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  12. We’re cat people. Well, I’m a dog person but Brian isn’t and I love cats too, so we’re a cat family. I have no advice because they’re clearly different animals. We let the cats protect themselves and the kids learned quickly. With dogs, you can’t do that. What you’re doing makes sense, but what the other commenter said makes sense too. This is rough.

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