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introduction to kids

989 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  lovemybuddy
I have a quick but probably complicated question. My wife and I have a year and a half old male (neutured) gsd. We plan on having our first child next year. I know this is pretty far in advance...but I'm wondering how I can make sure my dog bonds with and accepts my child. I am kind of worried because when he is outside on his long lead and he sees kids go by his hackles go up and he barks like mad.

I know socialization is the key. He is alwasy being introduced to new people but rarely children. My neice and nephew (6 and 3) visted and played with him and he was ok with them...but i was still kind of nervous with him around them only because he doesn't have much of a history with kids.


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Doerak was never exposed to children and was a kennel dog before I got him. When he met the neighbors' infants he was curious and sniffed. Must be that baby powder and oil smell.

I think that from day one when the baby comes home, you train Kaiser not to touch. Use a clicker, let Kaiser sniff the baby and then call him to you. Then click and treat. Never scold him because then he'll think the baby is something scary. Oh, I guess if you are holding the baby it would be different. Like tell him to lay down or go to his "place".

Also, don't forget that "studies" have shown that babies who are raised with dogs and cats during their first 2 years of life are less likely to develop allergies and allergy related diseases.
Different circumstances here, but we just had our first (only!) child and he will be 6 wks tomorrow.

We had everything set up long in advance so not much was really new to them after awhile. This way as things were added, there wasn't suddenly a big massive change for them to notice. Life just went on for them.

When we brought him home, we let the smaller more gentle females meet him first. Everyone met him individually and with both of us present so one could handle our son and one the dog. The girls have both been around babies quite a bit over the years, so there was no concern with them other than ensuring they remained calm and gentle around him.

We waited to introduce him to the boys for several reasons. One, Micah was adopted as an adult so we had no real knowledge of his kid experience, much less babies. He lived in a 10 x 6 ish pen in the backyard at his former home for 2 yrs. No socialization. Kodii lived with kids, but not babies, and was still in recovery from a total hip replacement. Due to constant confinement on leash, in an exercise pen, or crate, he was pretty hyper and we didn't want him to inadvertently harm our son. We knew he wouldn't be aggressive, however.

With the boys we allowed them to see him only at first. No sniffing except from a couple feet away or through a crate. They had to learn to remain calm and not get excited and overly curious about him. So once they remained calm over a week or two of time doing this, I allowed them to come up and sit by me and sniff him up close while I held him. That's all they get to do, and all they need to do IMHO for now. They don't need to do anything more than see him, hear him, or smell him.

We don't allow licking of the baby although occasionally Akira sneaks in a quick lick on the foot or something. Akira and Audrey are safe in the house with him. They know he's a little person and to be respected, they know not to step on him if he's on his playmat on the floor, etc. The boys are FAR too rambunctious for this, and we utilize gates in the house to seperate them from where he is. They can still see and hear him, it's an open concept floorplan so they aren't relegated to a room by themselves or anything. They just don't get to be directly with him right now.

Safe as they are (the girls anyway), never leave your dog and baby together. He goes where I go in the house if the dogs are loose.

I would be rather concerned if I were you, and would start taking my dog around kids constantly although I wouldn't allow some strangers kid to approach because your dog is displaying either aggressive or fearful behavior (hard to say without seeing the dog and action). you don't want to use someone's child as a guinea pig! ;) I would start using lots of positive reinforcement when around kids, and strive for calm quiet behavior. Work your way closer and closer to the kids as time goes on. I would not count on the dog bonding with "your" baby just because it's yours. A lot of people assume this will happen and that's not always the case. Family dogs all over the country bite their own kids, and yes, at times unprovoked. Train, socialize, and keep your child safe.
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Thanks Rerun...good advice. My follow up question would be....where do I find these kids to bring Kaiser around? Like you said...I'm sure people don't want their kids to be my guinea pig, haha.
Do you have a park nearby that you can walk him around? If you're a male, try not to look creepy doing this. ;)

Friends who have well behaved kids that you can have come over for occasional visits? Not necessarily to directly interact with the dog, but have him leashed and in the room? Have them talk nicely to him, toss him high value treats, etc?
You could always start walking around parks- watch your dogs reactions. Does he turn away, pant more, whine, hackles up, bark? Or does he wag his tail, pull nearer, sniff towards them, and show interest? If so go a little closer and carefully watch for reactions both positive and negative. You could place a muzzle on him if your really concerned and ask parents if their child could pet your dog- has your dog really never been around any children? I always explain to children they may not hug my dogs, touch their ears, tail, mouth, or nose. I show them first always how a dog should be pet and bring treats so their first interaction with the kid is getting yummy food. Let kids feed your pup whatever his fav. foods are and do this regularly.
Rerun great minds must thin a like...and definitely don't look creepy maybe bring the wife along,lol
Zoeys mom: he hasn't really had much interaction with kids. some, but not very much at all. I think i'll start to bring him around the parks like you said.

thanks everyone! good advice...and i'll be sure not too look creepy, haha. bringing the wife is not a bad idea!
Hi Adam!

Thinking about starting a family is so exciting! Congratulations!! It's awesome and lifechanging to bring little people into the world!

Back to your question ~~ we had two dogs, both were 4 years old, when our first child was born. The things we did to prepare the dogs for children were petting them when they were eating, tugging on them a little, pulling their tails (gently!) just the normal stuff that babies and kids will do. Obviously, don't do anything to hurt your dog, just to get him used to different sensations. Always treat and praise him right away. This will help him tolerate being touched in ways he's not been used to.

Don't ever try to take his food bowl away from him, but teach him that human hands near food bowls are really, really awesome. As he's eating, slip a treat in under his nose. That way, he will connect a human hand/body near his food bowl as being a good thing.

Luckily, babies start out by pretty much just laying around. No chasing or pulling of fur, yet! The biggest change for the dog at that newborn stage are the noises that babies make, and the smells that babies have. You could get a tape of babies crying to get him used to that sound. (And to get yourself used to it, too, lol!!) I've heard of bringing a blanket home from the hospital with the baby's scent on it to get your dog used to the baby's scent before bringing him/her home.

My dogs were more curious than anything else when the babies first came home from the hospital. I would let the dogs sniff and lay near the babies. Make sure the dog is always respectful of the baby's space, though. Be consistent with what is allowed and the dog will learn very fast.

As the babies grew, we just always taught them to be gentle with the dog. Never leave the baby and dog alone in the same room, ever. Children and dogs should never be left alone, either.

As your baby grows, by about 8-9 months, she/he can start giving the dog treats. You help the baby hold the treat, have the dog do something, even if it's just a "sit", and then help the baby give the treat to the dog. (Make sure your dog has learned to take treats only with a soft mouth before doing this, though!!!)

I think my boys and the dogs bonded the most when the boys learned how fun it was to throw food off of their hair chair tray and watched how quickly the dogs would run to gobble it up. lol As the boys grew, the dogs and boys really became very close, the dogs always treated them very, very well. It's just about teaching both the dog and the child mutual respect for the other.

It can't hurt to try to socialize the dog now with children. Just remember the saying that no experience is better than a bad experience. Make sure the children are well behaved and know how to treat the dog before they approach him. I agree with rerun and Zoey completely in this area. And I agree you should bring your wife along to the park! lol

Good luck to you guys!!!
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