My dog isn't adjusting to our baby

(44 Posts)
CH1994 Thu 25-Oct-18 10:58:08

Needing some advice in regards to my 2 year old dog, he has always been a very clingy needy dog that would follow you everywhere but since having our daughter 4 months ago his behaviour has got so much worse and when he is not the centre of attention he whines and looks at you with the most depressed face or pushes and nudges at you for attention.

For weeks now I have said he will adjust in time but if anything he has actually got worse, it has got to the point I have to keep him in a separate room most of the time albeit he will whine all day there to, when I am interacting with my daughter he whines or comes and licks me looking for attention and tries to push himself in the middle and he now does it with my partner and I even when we talk if he's not up on our laps he will whine under his breath. I have tried involving him with the baby and tried to let him sit with me when I give her a bottle etc but he just nudges and tries to climb over the top of her. He is so jealous and constantly wants attention! You could sit and stroke/play with him/walk him for an hour and he will still whine when because the attentions not on him, he literally wants attention on him 24/7 no exaggeration. A few weeks ago now he was sniffing the baby while she was on her mat (closely supervised) and I thought oh good we are making progress but then he turned around and tried to sit on her!! The problem I'm finding with him is he thinks he should be number 1 and if you give him an inch he takes a mile and I never want him to think he's above the baby cause that will certainly never be the case!!

I am at my whits in as you can imagine being stuck at home on maternity with a 4 month old and a dog that is constantly looking for attention and whines wherever you put him or aren't giving him complete and utter love is rather draining! I personally would look at rehoming him as I don't feel he is adjusting well nor is happy and I don't want that for him, but I don't want family etc getting on at me as a dog is for life which I understand completely but he just seems so miserable and is often put into another room/garden as he just can't behave when the baby is about! And as awful as it sounds he is no longer a joy to have around but just a total burden and a hassle, although I have suffered mildly with postnatal depression so I'm unsure if this is why I feel this way about him at the moment.

Any advice on this would be so much appreciated as I feel I have tried everything from ignoring him when he whines to telling him of to letting him be involved with the baby but nothing seems to work! 😩 Thanks in advance!

OP’s posts: |
CH1994 Thu 25-Oct-18 11:08:11

I'd also like to add that I can't even really invite people round the house because if you put him out of the room he yelps the whole time and if you have him in the room he bounds all over the guests jumping up in there face licking at them and just genuinely being far too over excitable and he doesn't seem to settle after a few minutes (the longest I've given him as you can see he really annoys people when they come in as he will try stick his tongue in your mouth chew at your ears the works!! 🙄) that it is almost like look at me and not the baby as again he never used to be anywhere near as bad as this!! I just don't know what to do!!

OP’s posts: |
missbattenburg Thu 25-Oct-18 11:24:55

Hi OP - I'm going to try and say all this gently because I suspect you might be feeling pretty tired, stressed and emotional with such a young baby. If anything I write sounds harsh, I really don't mean it to.

The big thing that stuck out for me in your post is a sense of judging the dog for this behaviour. Phrases like 'wants to be centre of attention' often come with a judgement attached because, as humans, we can think people/dogs are selfish to want that. I think the first thing to call out is this is not an inherently BAD thing for the dog to want and I suspect is coming from a feeling in security and anxiety on the part of the dog. By all means, you need to address the behaviour, but if you can, it helps not to judge the dog for it.

The other thing that struck me is the relatively young age of your dog. I wonder how much interaction, focus, mental and physical stimulation he is getting now - especially compared to what he used to get. I could imagine having a newborn would mean there is little time to fuss, play with, walk and train the dog. And yet dogs need that. Some need it less, some need it more - but it is a fundamental need and not something they can just switch off.

Whining: you say you have tied everything but in 4 months you cannot have tried anything consistently because you just haven't had the time. I think the key is to remember that dogs do hat works. If he's whining then it is working for him in some way. For a dog desperate for validation (attention) even a telling off is a reward because you focus on him and interact with him for a few seconds. What you need to do is stop the whining working and instead, make effort to reward him for the right behaviour. If he lies down quietly (even for a second) then THAT is the time to focus on him and give him some fuss. You need to demonstrate clearly, with your actions, that whining dogs get nothing and calm, quiet dogs get plenty of fuss.

Guests: this is the same as whining and his anxiety will be what's making him worse right now. His strategy IS working for him and you need to control it so that it doesn't work. Things like instructing guest to totally blank him until he calms, and keeping him on a lead until then so he cannot upset them.

Behaving around the baby: he really needs to be shown how to behave. I think I would go about this by having two adults participate in the training. One to hold the baby (to make sure he is safe) and the other to focus on the dog - every time he is calm (even for a fraction of a second at first) he gets rewarded with fuss/treats. What you want is for him to IGNORE the baby - trying to encourage interaction between them right now is asking for trouble.

Finally, the dog has needs. He needs walking. He needs attention, fuss and training. I can totally imagine that being very difficult with a new baby (especially if you're not feeling great) but that doesn't change what he needs. Fulfilling those needs should go a long way to helping him cope.

Nesssie Thu 25-Oct-18 11:25:14

Putting him in another room is just reinforcing his thoughts that the baby is replacing you. Are you giving him one on one attention?

Can you use baby gates as a way of separating him but not excluding him? so you and baby sit one side (feeding etc), dog on the other, so you can see and talk and stroke him safely. Lots of praise when he eventually lays down.

Teach the command 'on your bed/mat' and have a bed/mat in the lounge for him to settle on. You may need to have him on a lead, and perhaps even tied up so that he cant leave the mat (but has room to move around and get comfy. Then give him either a chew or treats, and lots of praise when he settles down.

Things like interactive feeders to keep him occupied may help too.

icouldwriteabook Thu 25-Oct-18 12:12:40

Finally, the dog has needs. He needs walking. He needs attention, fuss and training. I can totally imagine that being very difficult with a new baby (especially if you're not feeling great) but that doesn't change what he needs. Fulfilling those needs should go a long way to helping him cope.

far from helpful. you clearly don't have a hyperactive dog and a 4 month old!

I do have a hyperactive dog and very soon i'm going to have a 4 year old. my dog is a cockapoo and therefore known to be 'crazy'. he needs constant attention- we don't even go to the loo alone!

he is only 12 months old and recently had him neutered (not sure if you have?) as we got told this 'calms them down' absolutely made no difference for us!

we cant/wont pay for training as baby's needs come first therefore we have had to do it ourselves. he stills follows me everywhere but recently (the last 4 months id say) he has become so much better at not whining and actually sitting on his own in the other corner of the room (very very rarely will be in another room to us.)

I found the only way we did this was through being beyond strict with him. literally military. he needed to understand he is a pet (whilst yes still part of the family) but everyone else's (humans) needs come before his. bottom of the pecking order. he was completely ignored if he cried or whined and if he continued to he would be put outside. all this stuff about 'that makes them feel more pushed out' - not helpful or practical. why would anybody want to give attention to a dog over their baby, you don't get 5 minutes spare to tend to the bloody dog!
we aren't here to make the dog feel good about themselves- sorry to sound harsh but they are an animal and the babys safety is paramount. this behavior could turn into aggression from frustration from that 'thing' (baby- but dog knows it as a new thing) is being given more attention than him. ours has never shown any even slight aggression but I still wouldn't leave him alone with baby (not saying you would) therefore dog being put out of the equation means baby safe and your ears don't hurt!

I am NO dog trainer but just speaking from experience- we even found our dog a new family 30 miles away who were prepared to pay £1000 for him- but something inside me said it one day will be lovely that they grow up together and I held on (aswell as hormones and him being so loving) so we knuckled down and researched and did the ignoring technique- no reaction no reward (in dogs eyes) and now I only have to say 'oh' in a stern voice and he shuts up.

research what you can at naptime and try to both reinforce it- id give it a few more months and then no joy I would look at rehoming him. my family whinged on at me when we were thinking about it but when telling them the dog isn't above the baby and that its none of their business they soon shut up!

good bloody luck! flowers

CH1994 Thu 25-Oct-18 12:47:21

@icouldwriteabook Thank you soooo much for understanding! I've also put this post in the parenting section and I am being shot down like I have committed some terrible crime!

It is so unbelievably draining and sometimes the dog makes me feel so down because he is absolutely no joy anymore and after a day of hearing him whining and general attention seeking behaviour the last thing I feel like is giving him cuddles etc cause he's just made my day so much harder than it's had to be!! My partner is really good with him and gives him lots of attention but he is just so jealous of everything now I can't even talk to my partner without him whining... and it makes me so mad because you are right he is just a dog and I feel he needs to realise he is at the bottom of the pecking order and it is very much you give him an inch he takes a mile and thinks he's above everyone he is just generally hard work!

I will give it a few more months and maybe ask my partner to be a bit more strict with him as I feel sometimes he undoes my hard work I.e stroking him when he whines!!! Also I've tried informing him when he whines at the back door but he could be there all day because he will actually whine all day... he's pretty persistent and I end up not wanting to annoy the neighbours! 😬

OP’s posts: |
icouldwriteabook Thu 25-Oct-18 12:54:20

honestly you would've thought you've said you're locking a 2 year old child outside and not the dog (where funnily enough they belonged years ago!)

yes try and be strict and consistent both of you, but hes bad if hes whining when you and your partner are talking! is he like this with your partner when he's alone with him or is it an attachment issue with just you? if you can afford it try and find a local dog walker or dog day care (yes my dog goes to one of those sometimes!) or can a friend/family member walk him for you, even if its 30/40 minutes 3 times a week it will help you, I can imagine youre constantly on edge/anxious aswell as trying to tend to a baby! I really feel for you.

keep going and remember it shouldn't always be this bad! if it is in a few months I'd reconsider, for your mental health along with whats best for everyone x

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Shitlandpony Thu 25-Oct-18 12:59:57

Finally, the dog has needs. He needs walking. He needs attention, fuss and training. I can totally imagine that being very difficult with a new baby (especially if you're not feeling great) but that doesn't change what he needs. Fulfilling those needs should go a long way to helping him cope

This is excellent advice and I am afraid that I am not going to make you feel better about punishing the dog for behaving like a perfectly normal animal.
He won’t get revoked easily, so many dogs needing homes in shelters, unfortunately lots are because a new baby has replaced them.
Shutting him away is not a kind or helpful thing to do as dogs are social creatures, he is probably bored and lonely. Punishing him for whining (which is him showing unhappiness )is very unfair too.

There is a really good page on FB which is for positive reinforcement of dog training, I will try and link it here.

Shitlandpony Thu 25-Oct-18 13:00:14

*rehomed

Shitlandpony Thu 25-Oct-18 13:01:32

The pecking order and pack theory was debunked years ago. Dogs do not think like this.

Shitlandpony Thu 25-Oct-18 13:04:07

I couldn’t link it but have screenshot the group. It is run by very knowledgeable trainers and is positive reinforcement

Ohhgreat Thu 25-Oct-18 13:04:42

We have a 5 month old and a dog. Said dog is exhibiting some of the behaviours you describe (constantly wanting attention, getting between me and baby, etc).
It's hard, but for us the best way to train has been to send the dog 'away' when they do something we don't want. As their biggest drive at the moment is to be with us, depriving of that is the best punishment. We only send the dog out for a minute or so but it works!

Shitlandpony Thu 25-Oct-18 13:05:44

www.dogstrustdogschool.org.uk/behaviour/understanding-your-dog/understanding-dominance/

SputnikBear Thu 25-Oct-18 13:06:15

Lots of walks with dog and pram, training and encouragement to lie down or look out of the window or chew a toy. My baby is 9 months and my focus is still mainly on non-interaction between baby and dog. Dog is allowed to occasionally sit beside baby under supervision but that’s a fairly recent development. Locking the dog out will only increase the attention seeking behaviour.

Shitlandpony Thu 25-Oct-18 13:08:28

This is a fantastic group for ideas to keep your dog happy and busy, they need brain games to stop boredom and destructive behaviour.

LadyDeadpool Thu 25-Oct-18 13:09:17

"we cant/wont pay for training "

You probably shouldn't have a dog then if you won't pay for his needs. hmm

OP you are doing your dog an injustice by listening to someone who can not be bothered with their dog and uses outdated pack theory over the excellent advice offered by Battenburg.

continuallychargingmyphone Thu 25-Oct-18 13:09:19

I think rehoming him is a shitty thing to do tbh. Sorry if that’s not what you want to hear.’

confusedandemployed Thu 25-Oct-18 13:12:21

Finally, the dog has needs. He needs walking. He needs attention, fuss and training. I can totally imagine that being very difficult with a new baby (especially if you're not feeling great) but that doesn't change what he needs. Fulfilling those needs should go a long way to helping him cope.

I'm sorry OP but I agree with Shitlandpony. This may not be what you want to hear but that doesn't make it less true.

Shitlandpony Thu 25-Oct-18 13:15:47

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

CH1994 Thu 25-Oct-18 13:18:08

I totally get he has needs and I walk him most days for an hour off lead, he has plenty toys and gets love in the evening but yet he still whines and demands attention at all other times it's not that he is being totally neglected by any means I am not a terrible pet owner like a lot of you are jumping to to the conclusion to 😂 like I said in a previous post he even whines when me and my partner talk now it's is haaard work!

OP’s posts: |
icouldwriteabook Thu 25-Oct-18 13:18:21

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Shitlandpony Thu 25-Oct-18 13:22:05

Maybe join those groups then CH1994, they are qualified trainers and will help you.

Gizzymum Thu 25-Oct-18 13:31:58

I feel your pain @CH1994

I have a 17mth old, a 11wk old and an 8 year old anxious golden doodle.

My first question is do you have good pet insurance? I have petplan and got the vet to refer us to a qualified behaviourist as my dog's anxiety worsened when I was pregnant with DC1. You could try this as you'd only have to pay the insurance excess.

My dog is similar in that he hates to be shut in a different room. The behaviourist suggested shutting him in a different room with a scatter of bits of eg cocktail sausage (cut as teeny tiny as possible) so he got used to the fact he was alone, got treats and finding the treats distracted him. The key was to do this even when he didn't need to be shut away on his own at first, so that when he did need to be shut away he wouldn't mind as much. Gradually build up the time the dog is alone.

When guests arrived, we had to shut the dog in the one room and show the guests through to a different room (where they didn't have to go past the room which the dog was in). Do a sausage bits scatter creating a trail from the door of the room which the dog was in, through to the room the guests were in and past the guests to the other side of the room. Guests were to completely ignore the dog. This meant the food treats made the dog pay less attention to the guests and would have calmed down by the time he welcomed them. Now is the time to invest in baby gates if you haven't already. Would your dog be better shut out of the room if he could still see you eg through a baby gate?

Another idea would be having a food puzzle or treat ball for your dog to play with when you're in the same room with the baby.

Admittedly these tricks work for my dog as he's very food orientated, but hopefully they'll help you with yours too.

Now is the time to focus on training as once your baby can crawl/walk you'll have a whole different problem on your hands (training the kid to leave the dog alone).

It does get easier. 

Bellatrix14 Thu 25-Oct-18 13:37:48

and it makes me so mad because you are right he is just a dog and I feel he needs to realise he is at the bottom of the pecking order and it is very much you give him an inch he takes a mile and thinks he's above everyone he is just generally hard work!

He’s a dog? You are talking about him like he’s a person who is doing this on purpose! I understand it’s frustrating for you but you are acting like he is intentionally ruining your maternity leave... I would suggest, as others have said, that you attempt to get some advice from professionals.

Gizzymum Thu 25-Oct-18 13:39:22

I've just reread your post and tbh all of your dog's behaviour sounds like anxiety/appeasement behaviour. He was probably anxious before and now is struggling with the changes and is coming you to for reassurance. I think my behaviourist said that if you reassure them you are reinforcing the dog's belief there is something that they should be worried about. Perhaps try distraction as disciplining them will just make them even more anxious.

I know my dog sits on my knee when anxious eg vets waiting room, so perhaps that's what happened when he went to sit on your baby?

Have a google for signs of anxiety in dogs - licking lips, licking you are both signs. It may help you spot a pattern and therefore help you better understand situations which stress your dog out.

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