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Discussion Starter #1
Forgive me if there is already a post somewhere in regards to this topic, I couldn't find it.

For those of you who have young children and rescued or acquired an adult GSD, how did you go about introducing your children to your new dog? How do you handle this situation?
Obviously dogs should never be left unattended with young children regardless of the breed. I have a daughter that's a year and a son who is 4. I have concerns in regards to their safety. I don't feel Malachi would ever intentionally harm my children, but I'm sure every parent said that before their child was bitten. At this point, I don't plan on even letting 'Kai' in the same room as my daughter. She's just too young. This way Kai can get used to her scent and sounds from afar. Am I wrong in this approach?

My son is an entirely different issue. He acts somewhat afraid of Kai. I'm concerned that Kai is going to feel that he is a higher member of the 'pack' than my son..which is not OK. I have no doubts that Kai senses my sons' fear. I'm sure this is more an issue I will need to work on with my son. He knows how to behave properly around dogs. He grew up around my brother's dogs-he knows to pet lovingly, no tail pulling or dog riding.

I could really use some input on this topic in general. Please tell me how you have successfully (or not) introduced your GSD into your family with young kids. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Obviously, at this time it is difficult trying to keep everyone separated-especially since Kai wants to be wherever I am. I want Kai to be as much a member of this family as everyone else and not have to keep doors shut everywhere...I know this will take time but I don't know where to start! :confused::shrug:
 

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Both of mine love kids, probably more then anything else. I got my female when she was 12 weeks, so she grew up kids. These are not my own kids, but my nieces and nephews that are around often, but not everyday. My male is going to be a year and I knew his temperament with people was good, but I wasn't sure about little people. When I came home with him, my nephew was over. I let the dog smell my nephew through the gate to see the dogs reaction. The dog's whole body was wagging and he was kissing him through the gate. He followed him everywhere the next couple days..I was thinking that he probably came from a home with a small boy. Even now he is always more excited to see the kids when they come over. Different dogs require different introductions and you have to be able to see and know how that dog is acting with the kids. If you still have a playpen put the little one in there and let the dog sniff through that...plan on baby getting poked in the stomach and falling down:)
 

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i'm all for rescuing but when it comes to having children
and rescuing i'm very leary. i'm sure it can work in many
instances but i wouldn't chance it.
 

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Hi I also have three young children and back in December we got our first GSD a girl named Bella she was 3 yrs old when we adopted her so I know your concerns and how you are feeling... My kids are 3,5,7 so naturally I was worried as to how Bella would adapt and react to them ... But with my constant supervision and having her on lead while in the house near me so that I could correct or prevent any unwanted behavior we have had no problems at all. She's a total love bug but with that being said I still would never leave her alone with my kids but that goes for any dog after all they are animals ... Things in our house have gone so well that we just bought a new GSD Puppy a few days ago and everything is working out great ,sure we have our moments of chaos but who doesn't .. I Hope this has been of some help to you, Best of luck .....
 

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Different dogs require different introductions and you have to be able to see and know how that dog is acting with the kids. If you still have a playpen put the little one in there and let the dog sniff through that...


I totally agree:)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
BellaLuna, yes, thank you-your input is encouraging. The playpen idea was exactly what I was thinking about trying! I've only had Kai for about 5 days but the prey drive I've already seen is pretty intense. That's another reason for my concern for my daughter. When she cries in the other room, Kai goes cuckoo. He wants in where she is. I think he wants to know more what the source of the sound is than anything! haha. I don't know his background, he may have spent a lot of time around kids. He is very submissive and soft-definitely not a cocky alpha. I'm pretty sure he'll be just fine with time. I'm just trying to find the best way to get him accustomed the the kids and vice versa..
 

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Definitely will take time,and I'm sure in no time at all all the kids and him will be best buds ...Well wishes and congratulations:)

Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

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When she cries in the other room, Kai goes cuckoo. He wants in where she is. I think he wants to know more what the source of the sound is than anything! ... He is very submissive and soft-definitely not a cocky alpha. I'm pretty sure he'll be just fine with time. I'm just trying to find the best way to get him accustomed the the kids and vice versa..
I applaud your attention to this and desire to take it easy at first--better safe than sorry!

The quoted sentences seem to me to indicate an opportunity for you to help the dog bond appropriately with the 1 year old. I would suggest under your control you let the dog visit while the girl cries. He is either in prey drive thinking it is a howling cat or he is in protective drive over hearing a child cry. You will certainly be able to tell the difference in how he reacts when faced with her (under your leash control!) This seems to be a great opportunity to be sure he is cool-nerved around crying babies, so you aren't worried about that in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The quoted sentences seem to me to indicate an opportunity for you to help the dog bond appropriately with the 1 year old
You are probably right, Bill. His initial response overwhelmed me a little and I wasn't prepared for it. But it probably is a great time to do a little introducing-on leash-with her in her playpen. I'm so hoping that the outcome will be a positive one. It's going to make life very difficult for quite some time if he views her as 'prey'. We will work through it though.

I found this website for families with dogs and young children. It's called Dogs&Storks (dogsandstorks.blogspot.com) If necessary, I guess I'll just have to hire someone who specializes in dog/child/family introductions and socialization. Fortunately there is a trainer locally. If anyone has any experience with this organization, I'd love to hear about it!

I'd still love to hear other suggestions, experiences from other families with GSDs and young'ns!
 

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A dog, cat or ferret should always be supervised around small children! Children should be taught the pet is not a toy and they should not play roughly with it. Given the proper upbringing and supervision, there is no reason pets and children can't get along. :)
 

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Having two young children myself, I don't think you should keep Kai away from your daughter. Having him on a leash obviously, but not separated. The best way for them to learn how to interact, is by being able to interact. When your daughter cries, its not prey drive that makes him want to get to her. If its a new sound to him, he wants to know WHAT it is.

Did you get Kai from a rescue? Do you know his previous history or anything like that? If Kai wants to be wherever you are, excluding him from the kids could potentially foster some resentment in him regarding the kids. EVERYONE has to learn. It doesn't work if they cant interact.

Your son being afraid of Kai could easily be nervousness because this is a new dog and one that I imagine is larger than he is. Kids instinctively know the dog could easily knock them down. My daughter is 5 and my son just turned 4 this past Monday. Both of my kids were born into the home with dogs already here. Both dogs had been adopted. Riley had never been exposed to kids until my baby brothers were born. He was understandably nervous but grew to love kids so much he would do that happy butt wiggle whenever he saw one or got to meet one. He was my daughters best friend.

Zena was an adult when she came to us. She was amazing with kids. Zena single pawed changed my moms perception on GSDs. My middle baby brother was learning to walk and he pulled himself up on Zena. Zena didn't care. She loved it. Tail wagging, dopey grin on her face. My brother accidentally pulled fur a little bit too hard and all Zena did was reach around, gently grab his hand and moved it so he wasn't pulling anymore but he never lost his balance. She helped him walk. Stayed right by him.

You already know to never leave the kids and the dog unsupervised. That's easy. Careful introductions. They cant learn if not allowed. Put your daughter in a play pen and let Kai sniff through. Praise for proper calm behavior.

I've also had several foster dogs come in and all did great with the kids. Slow easy introductions, praise and relaxed atmosphere.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
KZ, thank you so much and you are right. I don't WANT to keep them separate, just not entirely sure the best approach of introducing one another. I feel much more confident in the route I'm going to take now after reading the opinions here.

Unfortunately I know little to nothing about his past, and what I was told could very well be total fabrication. I found him via a suspicious ad on CL. I contacted the 'owners' and came to meet him. His name was 'Rellik' (Killer backwards...yeah..). He is completely emaciated. He was in a tiny pen completely exposed to the elements. There was urine and feces everywhere. No food bowl in site. The pen was far from the home and surrounded in over-growth. The woman told me they had only had him a week and had 'rescued' him from a family who had him in an apartment and never let him out. She said she had no idea if he had ever been to a vet. She said he's 14mo. She also said he had been around kids and was great with them. She said they couldn't keep him because he was getting out and kept going after their goat. When I told her I was taking him on the spot, and asked if she could give me the remainder of his food to mix in with the food I was going to be feeding him..her reply was..'oh..uh..I've just been giving him wagon train, and I need the rest to feed to our other dogs..'

wagon train? what in the heck is THAT?
other dogs?? oh h*ll no..

a call was made to animal services (who-ever could have done that??) ;)

What I do know is that he is a sick pup and I'm working hard to get him better. His first trip to the vet is tom. I wanted to wait until my regular vet got back from vacation. He is completely housetrained. He needs to learn some manners..but all in all..he's a VERY sweet, loving guy that is super eager to please and desperate for some stability and consistency in his life. I plan on giving him that and THEN some!

There wasn't time for me to plan accordingly...I wasn't going to let that dog stay in those conditions for another second. So now I'm scrambling to make order out of this situation! haha..

He is a blessing, and you are right..we will all be fine with time, work, and patience.
 

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KZ, thank you so much and you are right. I don't WANT to keep them separate, just not entirely sure the best approach of introducing one another. I feel much more confident in the route I'm going to take now after reading the opinions here.

Unfortunately I know little to nothing about his past, and what I was told could very well be total fabrication. I found him via a suspicious ad on CL. I contacted the 'owners' and came to meet him. His name was 'Rellik' (Killer backwards...yeah..). He is completely emaciated. He was in a tiny pen completely exposed to the elements. There was urine and feces everywhere. No food bowl in site. The pen was far from the home and surrounded in over-growth. The woman told me they had only had him a week and had 'rescued' him from a family who had him in an apartment and never let him out. She said she had no idea if he had ever been to a vet. She said he's 14mo. She also said he had been around kids and was great with them. She said they couldn't keep him because he was getting out and kept going after their goat. When I told her I was taking him on the spot, and asked if she could give me the remainder of his food to mix in with the food I was going to be feeding him..her reply was..'oh..uh..I've just been giving him wagon train, and I need the rest to feed to our other dogs..'

wagon train? what in the heck is THAT?
other dogs?? oh h*ll no..

a call was made to animal services (who-ever could have done that??) ;)

What I do know is that he is a sick pup and I'm working hard to get him better. His first trip to the vet is tom. I wanted to wait until my regular vet got back from vacation. He is completely housetrained. He needs to learn some manners..but all in all..he's a VERY sweet, loving guy that is super eager to please and desperate for some stability and consistency in his life. I plan on giving him that and THEN some!

There wasn't time for me to plan accordingly...I wasn't going to let that dog stay in those conditions for another second. So now I'm scrambling to make order out of this situation! haha..

He is a blessing, and you are right..we will all be fine with time, work, and patience.


If you have any questions, feel free to PM me. I wish I'd been able to put more in my first post but things got crazy around the house. My biggest suggestion: supervised interactions with all family members. Get him healthy and get involved with a good trainer that knows and LIKES the breed. 14 months old and sounds like he's got a pretty good temperament despite everything. But allowing him to be included with the rest of the family can go a long way to rehabbing him and teaching him what you want to teach him.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
First face-to-face intros..

I have to say..I'm very proud of my Kai.

We've been having a lot of storms here lately, and I found with the first one that Kai is not a big fan of storms. He paces and pants and just acts all around panicky.
We had a storm coming last night so I was preparing for Kai's nervousness. What I wasn't preparing for was my daughter's reaction to the storm. She started acting as scared as Kai. She was screaming and crying-a scared cry. I was trying to run back and forth between different rooms trying to comfort them both..except suddenly Kai was far more interested in my daughter(Ava) than the storm. He seemed to 'forget' about the storm, and his focus was on my daughter.
Although I know it was FAR from the ideal circumstances to let them into the room together, I figured I'd give it a go. There was no way I could comfort them both in separate rooms. I put Kai's leash on, and let him in. All of his attention was on Ava, but he was clearly not in 'prey drive'. He seemed concerned about her, but he listened to my commands. He obeyed commands I didn't even know he knew! Haha..I let him sniff her through the playpen and he proceeded to try and lick her foot through the mesh. Then on my command, he went and laid down on the other side of the room so I could pick Ava up and soothe her. He stayed down, but was attentive. Ava was not so sure about Kai, and he made her cry harder (big scary black bear monster!!) BUT as far as Kai's behavior..he was wonderful.

As long as we keep doing controlled intros, I have no doubt they will both be fine together..
I'm pretty certain at this point that he HAS been around kids before-maybe even babies.

I'M SO PROUD OF HIM! :D
 

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Aww that's what I like to hear... and it only gets better with time, good boy kai...
 

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I love watching these rescue success stories unfold! Thank you for everything you're doing for this lovely boy!
 

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If it helps at all, here is my shepherd rescue story. I adopted a 2 year old GSD from the pound. My kids were 2, 6, and 10. My 2 year old son was disabled. I monitored the dog closely, but basically allowed her to come in and investigate the house. She loved all the kids, but adored my 2 year old more than life itself. I never, ever had a single problem with my "Annie". She was very gentle and went out of her way to avoid knocking the little one over. I lost my Annie in August at the ripe old age of 14.5. I'd rescue again in a heartbeat.

Here is a link to Annie's memorial movie. It is long, so go to about 3:40. I want you to see how Annie interacted with my son.


Time and patience. Allowing them to interact is so important. It sounds like you are doing great. Thank you saving Kai.
 

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some gsds are too friendly with kids like my old male would see them and smother them to death and it would be so bad like he would sit on them and kiss them non stop the poor child would start cryiing. He was just wayyyy too child obsessed. Parents would laugh about it cause they knew that he loved their kids but still hes a big animal. He would do it to a point where kids were afraid to be near him cause he would jump and knock them over and then smother them and wont stop. So i mean be careful what you wish for lol I think what yyou are doing is great and i honestly dont think you are going to have issues you sound smart and know what you are doing.

Current female does not care about kids and just ignores them like she ignores adults unless the child has somethiing she finds interesting like a toy. SO a baby can play with her toys on the floor and my dog will be fine though and just ignore. I think a baby a little one prefer it that way. My male would try to sit on the baby hug it and kiss it and not let go. I never met many gsd's that loved strangers kids that much. but he was too extreme in his love lol Not gentle like many dogs are. He would seriously hold a child with his front legs and just rest his head on them while they were pushing him and yelling him to get off. A lot of young people wanted to play with him but got sick of him so fast and wanted to run away from him.
 

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some gsds are too friendly with kids like my old male would see them and smother them to death and it would be so bad like he would sit on them and kiss them non stop the poor child would start cryiing. He was just wayyyy too child obsessed. Parents would laugh about it cause they knew that he loved their kids but still hes a big animal. He would do it to a point where kids were afraid to be near him cause he would jump and knock them over and then smother them and wont stop. So i mean be careful what you wish for lol I think what yyou are doing is great and i honestly dont think you are going to have issues you sound smart and know what you are doing.

Current female does not care about kids and just ignores them like she ignores adults unless the child has somethiing she finds interesting like a toy. SO a baby can play with her toys on the floor and my dog will be fine though and just ignore. I think a baby a little one prefer it that way. My male would try to sit on the baby hug it and kiss it and not let go. I never met many gsd's that loved strangers kids that much. but he was too extreme in his love lol Not gentle like many dogs are. He would seriously hold a child with his front legs and just rest his head on them while they were pushing him and yelling him to get off. A lot of young people wanted to play with him but got sick of him so fast and wanted to run away from him.
That is pretty rare, must have been a sight to see lol :D
 

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Discussion Starter #20
stevenzachsmom, I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to get to spend the next 14 years of my life with Kai by my side! What a beautiful memorial and video..made me tear up a little!

Next mission is to introduce him and my son. I'll post again when that happens!
Kai and Ava rode together wonderfully this morning on the way to the vet. Kai rode in the front seat, he lay across the bench seat in the front with his head in my lap. I just loved on him the whole way. It was so sweet. He paid no mind to Ava in the back.

Thanks everyone for the encouragement.

pets4life, was he a puppy? did he grow out of that? I could easily see an amateur dog acting like that-just being rambunctious and playful.
 
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