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Parents minding baby with untrained dog advice(8 Posts)
My parents have an 11 year old Jack Russel who has never been well trained but is generally good humoured if a bit barky. They will also be minding my baby one day a week when I go back to work and I'm increasingly worried about the dog and looking for advice about how they should interact.
My mum has completely spoiled her - she gets given food off plates when she asks and will often bark until she gets her own way, she has no recall, she sleeps in their bed. She sits in the window and barks at passing dogs and people.
Whenever anyone leaves the house she has to be caught and locked up or she'll bolt out the door, she barks when people leave because she doesn't want them to. She has been known to gently growl at people picking her up in that context but the only time she's ever snapped is if held the wrong way- she was badly attacked by another dog about 7 years ago and still had a sore area if held wrong. Other than that she's never been aggressive.
Most of the time she very happily sits on the couch or in her dog bed and is very chilled, she's happy and tail-waggy when people visit. She's also smart: she doesn't beg for food from me because I don't give it to her. My dad says there's no point trying to train her as mum undermines it, I actually think they've both let her down but we are where we are and there's nothing I can do about that.
She has 'met' the baby a number of times, in that we've been in the house but we've always kept the baby up high. However, the baby is now rolling and about to start crawling, we've been abroad for a number of months but are back and I need to start thinking about how to handle the two.
I know they can never be left alone but can they interact? Should I 'introduce' the baby? Should we set up some kind of play pen area so the baby can safely be on the ground or is someone in the room ok? The baby is 8 months old, and will be spending a day a week with her grandparents from a year. I want to spend the next few months managing their relationship while I'm there so we have rules in place when they start minding her.
Does anyone have any tips or ideas how to navigate this?
From my experience with dogs that aren't under the owner's total control I would keep the baby well away from it. Dogs and toddlers are such an unpredictable mix and usually the bizarre noises and erratic behaviour of the toddler pisses dogs off.
The other big problem is that the owner might not notice the dog being narked, seeing as she is so in thrall to it and hasn't paid attention to what others might call bad behaviour before. At what point will she notice her dog is growling or anxious, step in and say enough is enough the dog has to be on its own when my grandchild is here? If you don't think she will do this keep your baby away.
So baby gates and play pens are you friends here.
Place baby in a play pen/ dog outside or either side of a baby gate and observe what happens. Positive praise for the dog when she ignores the baby, or has a positive interaction, a gentle 'ah' and move away if she gets too ott etc
Give the dog something to distract her, ie a treat or chew.
Then all depending on the dogs reaction - if she ignores the baby then you may be ok to remove the play pen as long as someone is there. Sit with baby on floor and see what the dog does. Again, ignoring, or coming over, sniffing and then walking away is positive.
The key thing is not to allow the baby to approach the dog.
It may take some time before the dog is comfortable enough to ignore the baby. You can start by leaving a few things that smell of the baby around, for the dog to sniff at.
I would be mindful of any baby toys that make sudden noises or movements - perhaps introduce them separately until the dog is comfortable around them and you can tell what her reaction to them will be.
In general, an 11 year old dog probably won't want much interaction with a baby.
How did she behave on her previous meetings?
Thanks for the replies- my mum spoils and adores the dog but that is nothing compared to how she is around her grandchild so I'm not too worried about her ignoring our wishes or any signs.
So far, dog has ignored baby but when she's come close- eg, jumped up on sofa while someone was sitting on sofa holding baby or come over to investigate when I was feeding- we've whisked the baby away. I wasn't sure if that was right or not but when she was much smaller it seemed right.
I think a playpen/separate area is probably it the way forward. Would some kind of 'introduction' - eg letting baby say hello, pet her gentle?- make sense or just try to keep them separate the whole time?
I know you don’t want to read this, but I wouldn’t leave my baby there.
I’m sure your mum is lovely and not an idiot, but a moment’s inattention could have terrible consequences. Terriers are so quick, and if your mum is giving lots of attention to a small, mobile, occasionally squealing creature, the dog may dislike it. Even if it doesn’t, toddlers are also quick, and could grab the dog in a flash.
Can you afford childcare instead and ensure you or your partner are always around at your parents’ house? Alternatively, would your mum consider minding at your house, leaving the dog at home with your Dad? It would be a big ask and fair enough of her to refuse.
I’m not a dog hater. I’ve had three, all whilst having children, but the situation you describe sounds very unsafe to me.
So positive signs so far.
If you feel comfortable, when the dog comes over and you are holding the baby, you can ask her to get down from the sofa, and then give her a stroke when shes on the floor.
You don't want presence of baby=dog ignored.
I would always keep dog and baby apart when there is food involved. Remember babies are curious so her instinct will be to crawl towards or reach out to the dog, so you must be supervising at all times.
In terms of interactions, it all depends on how comfortable the dog is around the baby, if she comes up willingly and doesn't seem nervous (so relaxed body, loose tail etc) then you can stroke the dog, and then build up to holding the babies hand as she pats the dog. However, any signs the dog is not comfortable then I would not let the baby touch her yet.
Nervous signs are wide eyes, licking of lips, yawning, stiff body, looking away etc etc
I would also not let the baby touch/pet without you holding her hand, just in case she grabs, pulls etc.
Don't set the dog up to fail, and don't try and force interactions or friendship.
Do the play pen set up for a bit, allow the dog to get use to the sight/smell/noise of the baby and her toys, and give her time to absorb everything.
Then you can assess the situation.
Not in a million years would I leave the baby there.
Your baby will be mobile soon and not suitable to stay in a playpen..unless Dc will have full access to say a room and dog is excluded by stairgate, then your mum will have to make sure she keeps the gates shut....toddler age are often teh hardest round dogs as they are unpredictable...
Would your mum keep the dog outside / penned up in other rooms whilst DC there?
if she says she will then maybe - although if shes undermined any training so far cant see her doing it..
my brother got bitten on the neck by a 'family dog' luckily not severly but some stitches, he was just trying to climb up on the sofa (toddler age) Dog wasn't keen as was sitting on the sofa even though had been around kids whole life and well trained
you can do introductions etc as much as you like but your baby behaviour will change massively as a toddler- wanting to investigate things ...
I wouldn't unless i was really confident your mum would always gate in /gate out..