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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Whew. Ok.

Both of my GSDs are VERY interested in my young nephew. He is 1yo.
This interest really perked up now that he walks (and falls).

Is this a prey drive thing? Or what?

Regardless, I have been keeping both dogs locked up when he visits. This has always been the case. Even if they did not care about the baby, they could easily knock him over and hurt him. I am trying to get everyone on this same page.

My older GSD is locked in the house. He is uncomfortably curious about the baby. He stares intently, and clicks his teeth, like he does when he sees stuffed toys :cry::(. But his body language is very submissive...but alert. So in the locked room he stays. NO chances.

My younger GSD is bigger. A family member has quite a soft spot for him, and this family member called me mean for locking up both the dogs.
So he let his fav out, but the baby was out too. Thankfully nothing happened. He did that while I was off at the store, and I almost had a heart attack. All went well.

So the other weekend the family comes over again for a BBQ. I have my dogs locked up. Same other family member lets the younger GSD out (after I told him not to), and the dog makes a beeline outside. I am hot on his heels. He runs right up to the baby and shoves his nose right in his face, sniffing him. The person walking with him shoves the dog away, I and a friend grab him...baby reaches to pet the dog and the dog snapped at his fingers. He was incredibly intent throughout the whole thing.

Needless to say, that certain family member listens to me now. It could have gone way worse. It infuriated me.
Now he and others want both dogs to have muzzles. So those are in the mail. They bought them, the leather kind. They are coming over again and I have a deadline to get them comfortable with the muzzles.

They want me to reintroduce them to the baby and make it work.
They both are comfortable with clicker training, but in that sort of situation they refuse food.
UGHHH any ideas? They want the dogs to just hang out with the baby around with muzzles on. As if I can get it all done in a few days. As if they still cannot hurt the child.

I take child aggression very seriously. Was this curiosity? Prey drive? True aggression?

How would others here handle this situation?
What do you reccommend? Remember, I'm fighting an uphill battle here with other people who won't listen to me and want things their way...
 

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I am very curious about this as well...our GSD is the same way around small children. She gets a very intent look on her face and will bark and lunge toward them. We found out she would nip at them (herding style) when given the chance and she hasn't been off leash with them since.
She does fine with kids old enough to be calm around her (4 and 5 even), but I am very nervous even having her on leash around little ones because she sounds so scary. When I had her in her crate and was playing with a 10 month old within her sight, she would bark and jump every time the mom picked up the little girl.
Right now it's not a huge issue, we just keep her on leash or crated when we have friends with kids over, but I would like to work on it because we can't always control the circumstances on walks, etc.
 

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It's really hard to say what was going on without seeing it in person. You might want to keep in mind that you may have created the situation.

He runs right up to the baby and shoves his nose right in his face, sniffing him. The person walking with him shoves the dog away, I and a friend grab him...baby reaches to pet the dog and the dog snapped at his fingers. He was incredibly intent throughout the whole thing.
The person pushed him away, then you grabbed him. That tension may have said to him that there was something wrong with this tiny being that he was checking out so that when the baby reached out to him, he gave a warning nip.

Personally, I put Jax in a sit and hold her collar while a child is near her and I pet her, telling her what a good girl she is. I've never had her be aggressive, in fact, she is just the opposite. She seems to tone it down and be extra gentle. Whether it's instinct or my teaching her to be 'easy', I don't know.
 

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It is very common for children to get bit by a relative's dog. Dogs who have not been socialized (a lot) with young children are not quite sure of them. And, children that are very young my be unduly rough...I would say, your house, your rules. If you feel more comfortable having them locked away (rather than muzzled) then so be it.
 

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without seeing exactly what is taking place i cant really offer anything. If they've not been socialized with young children, they tend to be curious but nervous at the same time. Also if everyone is so tense about the meeting, the dogs will pick up on this and think there is something wrong with the unusually sized person. Some dogs are very gentle and relaxed around kids of all ages and take it very carefully on instinct. Some dogs are naturally nervous around kids. i'd have to see the behavior before i could say for sure.
 

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This is why it is sooo crucial to socialize dogs from day one with all sorts of people, babies and kids included. You can't change the past, but for others reading this let this be an example to take the time to take your puppy to lots of places and meet a ton of people. Don't wait until they are older and suddenly you have kids, or a relative does.

To the OP - a couple questions. Why are you fighting an uphill battle with relatives regarding your dogs? They are your dogs. If you aren't comfortable with them around the baby, don't let them around him! Yes training is great, and muzzles I suppose aren't a bad idea in your case (muzzles are not a 100% safety net though). Are you and your dogs living with this set of relatives? If not, why are they dictating what occurs with your animals? Are they over on a daily basis? If they are only over infrequently, I would keep the dogs put up for now and introduce them, on a leash, one at a time, to the baby when they are over.

I personally teach my dogs that babies, kids, etc are not to be an item of huge curiosity any more than any other person. Don't turn the baby into a desired item. The dog needs to learn to be CALM around the baby. I see so many people that introduce dogs to kids using a high pitched excited voice, holding the baby over the dogs head, etc. This only serves to amp some dogs up and make them think this cool smelly noisy thing is an item to be desired. Ideally, you want a dog that ignores the baby and sees it as just another person in the household. They should not be permitted to constantly nuzzle, lick, or bump babies and kids. JMHO
 

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i also wouldn't just stick muzzels on the dogs and just let them roam around the family with them, its not fair if there are some issues at hand..........even with a muzzel on they can still go through the same action in their mind as a nip/bite in a situation........

if you want to muzzel and supervise onleash interactions for short periods at a time and everyone is willing to play a part then thats fine........but i also agree its your house, your dogs, you need to do what you think is best, the family shouldn't dictate what you do with your dogs..............
 

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The muzzle may make the dogs more nervous. I know socialization is important, but we had a hard time finding kids to socialize with on a regular basis. Most people don't just waltz their toddler up to a GSD at puplic places like parks so unless you have close neighbors or friends with kids it is hard to socialize them -and puppy hood flies by!
 

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I agree about socializing them early. My boy, is 4. We got him at 11 months from a breeder. He was not socialized, and spent most of his time running with a couple of other dogs on the breeder's property. He is so afraid of little kids, that he tries to run from them. One day, he was off leash at our local park and looked like he wanted to run home when a younger kid approached him. If he is on leash and a child approaches, he tries to get his head out of his collar to get away. I think at this point it is going to be very difficult to make him comfortable around kids. I do agree with previous posts that stated muzzles may just make the dogs more nervous.
 

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..........I would say, your house, your rules. If you feel more comfortable having them locked away (rather than muzzled) then so be it.

Absolutely true about your house and your dogs! You have to do what you think is best.

Some folks are too fearful of GSD's and some seem to be just the opposite.

We recently had some work done to the house and the guys wife happened to come along while he was finishing up one day. She had a 9/10 mo baby with her. And we had Baron in the back yard when they arrived. So he greets them and is his usual friendly self and before I even noticed what she was doing she holds her baby down so Baron (then about 2 yo male GSD) could get a good sniff! That was bad enough but after she and I were sitting on the patio waiting for her husband to finish up, without saying a word she puts the baby on the ground and lets her crawl around. Now Baron is loose and sitting right there! He had never seen a baby that small nor of course been around one. I was stunned that she would do this with an adult GSD that she had never met before!

It turns out that he was really cute with the little one - going over and gently sniffing the little one.

But .........

I would expect any normal adult GSD to be good with kids generally, but I would not let them loose around the real little ones that they could hurt just by bumping or even stepping on them.
 

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Just tire them out and associate the whole toddler experience with something positive. How bout some quality treats? (0_o)

On a different note, I would also work more on obedience towards a solid recall. The whole dragging the dog away thing isn't really helping the positive picture.

GL
 

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Babies SMELL different than adults, they stagger, they fall, they SOUND different than adults. Dogs need to be socialized well around babies.

Actually, putting a muzzle on the dog and having the baby pet the dog is not a bad idea. Try to do it so that the baby and the dog are not traumatized during this process. Have the baby pet the side or butt of the dog, and not go for the head at first.

Use a crate, not just putting them in a room, put them in a crate or kennel and lock it if you must. You must keep the baby safe. that is the best way to keep your dogs safe.

Dog kid interaction should be one dog and one kid and a few adults that the dog knows. When it is used to the baby, you can add more people. When both dogs are used to the baby, you can try letting them both out, but some dogs will pack up when they are together, and that could mean, that the little intrudor may not be welcome. Then, back to one dog at a time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This is why it is sooo crucial to socialize dogs from day one with all sorts of people, babies and kids included. You can't change the past, but for others reading this let this be an example to take the time to take your puppy to lots of places and meet a ton of people. Don't wait until they are older and suddenly you have kids, or a relative does.

To the OP - a couple questions. Why are you fighting an uphill battle with relatives regarding your dogs? They are your dogs. If you aren't comfortable with them around the baby, don't let them around him! Yes training is great, and muzzles I suppose aren't a bad idea in your case (muzzles are not a 100% safety net though). Are you and your dogs living with this set of relatives? If not, why are they dictating what occurs with your animals? Are they over on a daily basis? If they are only over infrequently, I would keep the dogs put up for now and introduce them, on a leash, one at a time, to the baby when they are over.

I personally teach my dogs that babies, kids, etc are not to be an item of huge curiosity any more than any other person. Don't turn the baby into a desired item. The dog needs to learn to be CALM around the baby. I see so many people that introduce dogs to kids using a high pitched excited voice, holding the baby over the dogs head, etc. This only serves to amp some dogs up and make them think this cool smelly noisy thing is an item to be desired. Ideally, you want a dog that ignores the baby and sees it as just another person in the household. They should not be permitted to constantly nuzzle, lick, or bump babies and kids. JMHO
I wouldn't know how they were socialized. They are both rescues, at ages 2.5 and 3 each.

They were both introduced to the baby on leash at first. they did fine. This issue has come up now that baby is walking.

Yes, those relatives do live with me. I am their room mate (long story that doesn't matter...), and one that does live with me is the problem. BIG problem. As you can tell, we butt heads.

I know the muzzles arn't the fix all. it makes everyone breathe a little easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·


Just tire them out and associate the whole toddler experience with something positive. How bout some quality treats? (0_o)

On a different note, I would also work more on obedience towards a solid recall. The whole dragging the dog away thing isn't really helping the positive picture.

GL
Love that pic! I'll use it as a goal...

I don't want to make the baby even more of the 'forbidden fruit'.
The tension doesn't help. I'm hoping with the muzzles it goes away (from the people at least, more on that...)

Current plan: work on recall. get both dogs comfortable with wearing the muzzles, or at least tolerating it (marker training, I love you).

I then want to try reintroducing them to baby on a leash, with muzzles for safety. I do not want them to associate the muzzles with 'oh crap, the baby is coming...'

I want to try to simply have them in the same yard...wait until they relax. reward, and gradually decrease distance until they can intereact.

any thoughts...?
 

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First off I want to thank you for posing this question, I think it will help me too. I don't have kids and have no friends with kids, no neighbors with kids, and only one relative with kids who lives two hours away and we rarely see her... you get the picture. Niko seems terrified of any children under the age of 15 or so. Also not too many people are volunteering up their babies for socialization.

BTW, I love your screen name.
 

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Just tire them out and associate the whole toddler experience with something positive. How bout some quality treats? (0_o)

On a different note, I would also work more on obedience towards a solid recall. The whole dragging the dog away thing isn't really helping the positive picture.

GL
Great snapshot of the dogs and baby.

I agree with everyone who promotes socialization. I also agree with the above regarding obedience training on a recall. But a strong LEAVE IT command is in order here IMO. The dog should not be allowed to charge up to anyone, particularly a baby.

When my daughter was a year old and just walking, we brought home our GSD. I kept him on a leash at all times and waited for that moment when his interest/prey drive kicked in. She toddled off and he bounded after her. One very strong leash correction and a firm leave it helped him understand that chasing baby was never allowed.

May not work for others but I wanted to make sure the dog was very clear that children were not there for his amusement.
 

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If you are going to work with your dogs around the toddler, do so with a leash and also with as little people around as possible...people make things worse. They give off vibes, they get excited, etc. Just start working on "watch me", sits, downs, etc. with your dog on leash near the child, but don't make a huge deal out of the kid being there, that sends off all kinds of vibes your dog may pick up--nervousness, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Workin on it

I'm working on a better recall. It is already...ok, but we are well into the 'distraction' phase

The older one has a very good 'Leave It'. I can actually control him around the baby, but he is sneaky and would wait until my back is turned to try anything he knows I would not approve of.

The younger one (Beau), aka Mr. Pushy IwantmywayNOW was the one who rushed the baby. Unacceptable.

Here is my plan:
1-Walk/Jog until all their stupid is out...and then some. This should also eliminate them running around flattening the baby (BAD)
2-work on focusing on ME, stays, leave it, recall
3-Have a loose lead, have them see the baby walking around. Normal scene.
if they: start to be intent, recall. praise.
if they: rush, correction. As soon as they are refocused on me, much praise.
4-continue to work on it :crazy:...but i will keep them on a lead or put up for that day. Muzzles are not here yet.
I know muzzles are not a band-aid or fix all. I look at them as insurance...an added safety precaution. :paranoid:

**feel free to add to that basic outline.
 
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