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Trying to train the "people"

Discussion in 'Boxers & Children' started by Alisa KM, Jun 10, 2013.

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  1. Alisa KM

    Alisa KM Boxer Pal

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    Hello everyone! We have a fawn 7 year old male boxer Bucky who is a very patient, good dog. He loves children, babies, people...etc. We have a 6 month old that I am planning to leave at home in the care of my Mother in Law and my own Mother (they will alternate days) while I go back to work part-time.

    While we have trained Bucky and he has been great with the baby; I am worried about him around our mothers. My mom is very comfortable with him , but she is not that authoritative and does not have good enough control over him. My MIL tends to be a bit scared of him and panics with him around the baby. As you may already be able to tell...this is starting to stress my husband and I out.

    We are especially concerned when the baby starts crawling, walking, trying to play with Bucky. We know not to let him pull on his ears or poke his eyes or to let our son pull up on him while trying to walk, but I am not so sure that our Mothers know or can be taught these cues? We have been trying not to let the dog or baby become magnetized to each other, to avoid any possible accidents.

    My only solution is that while they are watching the baby, that Bucky be in a separate room, behind a baby gate, and not be allowed access to the baby at all while we are not there. Other than that, does anyone else have any tips on how to train your family and the people around you to follow the rules? Or can someone offer up any alternative solutions? Bucky has been with us since he was a puppy, and we want to make it work with him while also providing a safe and happy place for our son and our babysitting family.

    Many thanks all :)
     
  2. TwoDogs

    TwoDogs Boxer Insane

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    Go to Family Paws-New parent classes dog and baby It is a wonderful resource for expectant or new parents concerned about raising children and dogs in the same home. They've got free articles and webinars with tons of info. They developed the Dogs & Storks program have a searchable database to locate trainers who've gone through their program and specialize in helping families integrate dogs and babies in the same home. You might consider hiring a trainer to come into your home and inviting your mom and mother-in-law for the session. I'm sure if you are concerned, they must be feeling the same way. It might make everyone more comfortable about things.

    Another resource is Doggone Safe - Home There pages on bite prevention and learn to speak dog have suggestions and strategies for parents as well as video on dog behavior and dog/child interactions that can be very helpful.
     
  3. Alisa KM

    Alisa KM Boxer Pal

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    Thank you...

    Thank you Two Dogs; those links are very helpful. I did take some classes myself prior to baby, but will def. hold a session for the moms as well some time soon.

    The main worry of my MIL is that she thinks dogs can sometimes attack "for no reason" or "out of the blue" as opposed to due to various stresses or reasons. She always says things like "you never know what an animal will do" and deems them unpredictable. Do you think this is could be true at all or can we 100% always read dog cues?

    I am curious as to what your opinion is on the matter.
     
  4. TwoDogs

    TwoDogs Boxer Insane

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    Occasionally a dog will bite someone "out of the blue" and without any warning. Upon examination, these usually turn out to be cases where the dog has some severe medical condition (epilepsy comes to mind as one) that causes neurological problems. Another that comes to mind is brain trauma either from an injury or illness that causes swelling and subsequent brain damage. But these are the exception.

    The vast majority of dog bites do come with signals--it is just that the people involved either didn't know what to look for, or the signals were just subtle enough that they went unnoticed. There is also a percentage of dogs that have learned from humans that their signals are all going to be ignored anyway so they might as well just go right to the bite because it is the only thing that seems to work.

    Bone up (pun intended) on dog behavior. A great resource is Turid Ruggas' "Calming Signals". Have your mom and mom-in-law spend some time around Bucky so they get to know his mannerism. Like a poker player, every dog is different in the body signals it will give. Give a rolling narrative of Bucky's body language for them so they can come to see how he reacts to things and what are his "tells". If they are better able to read Bucky's body language, they will feel more confident having him around.

    Almost all dogs will first try avoidance as a means to resolve conflict so learn to recognize things like lip licks, head turns, walk-aways, whale eyes, and curved approaches/departures as signs of avoidance and distance-increasing behaviors.

    The majority of dog-to-child bites are caused by either fear aggression or resource guarding, so look for signs of potential resource guarding in your dog. It never hurts to do some resource guarding prevention work now, before the baby gets too mobile. You obviously don't want to ever leave them together unsupervised, but if it does happen accidentally, you want your dog to think of people approaching its bowl or chew item or bed as an enjoyable thing rather than something to be guarded against. A nice resource for this subject is Jean Donaldson's book "Mine!" Owners of dogs that don't guard resources but want to prevent the behavior from ever developing will be able to fast-forward through the program and then just periodically do some maintenance exercises.

    Your mom is wise to remember that dogs are animals and truly we never know what they are thinking or will do. Too many people do the opposite and expect dogs to understand us completely and be tolerant of everything we dog. With some practice and coaching though, the moms should come to feel more confident in their ability to predict and prevent behaviors.
     
  5. TwoDogs

    TwoDogs Boxer Insane

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    Something else that will help loads--teach Bucky some handy obedience behaviors that will help the moms move him around on verbal cues and hand signals alone. Favorites of mine are:

    back--back away from me, give some space
    out--leave through the doorway I am gesturing to
    kennel--run to your kennel and wait there for a tasty treat
    bed or mat--go to your bed or mat and lay down
    stay--don't move from that position or location until I've verbally released you
    come--come over here to me (and presumably away from the baby)
    leave it--pay no attention to that object or person, don't approach it, better yet move away from it

    If they get better at reading his mannerisms and body language AND you give them a set of cues that help them to control where Bucky goes and what he does it will help a lot.
     
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