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Bring a newborn baby home to an aggressive dog.

What do I recommend when bringing a newborn baby home to a dog with a bite history?

I have never seen smelling the baby’s blanket or clothes do anything to make a reactive/aggressive dog like a baby when they actually meet.

I guess may be it’s the same reasoning to some people as giving the dog the owner’s T-shirt to help with separation anxiety, which again, is not something l have seen work (but l have read that some dogs ingested the t-shirt while alone and needed to be rushed to the vet due to impaction).

Training is what will transform the dog’s decision making process, outlook on this world, and relationship with his/her human, which is how we can help an once reactive/aggressive dog to accept a baby.

The key is to teach the dog to accept the baby as a non threatening being that he/she needs to respect. Sniffing the baby’s blanket will not do anything to achieve that.

As a matter of fact, allowing the dog to keep sniffing the baby’s belongings could make the dog believe that whatever belong to the baby also belong to the dog, which is the opposite of what we want.

We want the dog to know that many baby items are off limit, so the dog will grow to accept that there is a clear boundary around the baby. We cannot ask the baby to walk or train the dog, we cannot expect the dog to view the tiny baby as a “pack leader” — but by establishing a clear boundary around the baby and his/her belongings, the dog will learn to become mindful and respectful around the baby so even when the baby does something the dog is not comfortable with, the dog will not think he/she is entitled to correct the baby. It’s like we are setting a perimeter that is cordoned off with a yellow tape around the baby, so the dog knows he/she needs explicit permission before entering this baby’s personal space.

There are many myths regarding letting the dog smell something in order to accept someone but they are not really true. Those are not things l do, and many of these myths could end up with big problems (eg someone pushes one’s hand to a dog’s face for a sniff and the dog bites the person).

A lot of baby problems are rooted in the dog’s tendency to guard. If the dog guards the mom, and sees the mom spending a lot of intimate time with the new baby, the dog could guard the mom and hurt the baby. Sniffing the baby’s blanket will not magically make the dog think the baby is a “friend”, it does not work like that.

Some dogs could end up guarding the baby from the dad, guarding the parents from the baby's bed, and so on, when no clear boundary is established.

Also, for a dog who is obsessed with guarding a human, even if the dog does not attack the baby, we need to be very careful how we accurately interpret the dog’s behavior from a canine perspective, not from a Hollywood movie perspective.

For example, when a dog with a guarding issue tries to put a blanket over a sleeping baby’s body, it’s not because the dog wants to keep the baby from getting cold. It does not work like that with dogs. Trying to cover up something like that could be a resource guarding behavior (i.e. the dog wants to bury a prey for later consumption).

If you need help, please do not just listen to a lot of these common myths which are often not true.

Thank you.

Training a reactive dog at The Bay.

1 則留言


Great post! Such valuable information which is transferable to people as well (the introduction of ie: homestay students, boyfriends/girlfriends etc.) Thank you for sharing!

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