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Help GR adjust to new baby(7 Posts)
We have a golden retriever we absolutely adore. Unfortunately while we have trained him (puppy classes, recall, no pulling etc.), we've also absolutely babied him and through not fault of his own he's now struggling to adjust to life with our now six-month-old.
Stupidly (in a haze of new parent exhaustion) I thought the issue might get better over time and he'd adjust but obviously that hasn't happened.
We're going to see the dog behaviourist we've seen before who helped with his lead pulling. But I wonder what sort of training we're going to need to work on?
Specific issues are getting in the way of us/visitors and the baby, not being gentle around the baby (he doesn't seem aware of her) and just generally being a grump huffing etc. when we give the baby attention and he feels ignored.
I take 100% responsibility and I know it's not his fault. Now we're finally getting more sleep I can think straight and so am looking for proactive ideas. Any suggestions?
I had a similar problem when I had a new baby. My fox terrier was used to my older DC and we didnt expect anymore, so he was babied and we werent tough. He was awful when the new baby arrived, would jump and snap at him as he was being passed around, he would sit and pant and lick his lips staring at him like he was prey. As he started walking my dog would purposelly knock him over when we were in the park, tried to pee on his buggy. In truth we had to keep them separate, my baby was never left alone, dog was kept in a different room and allowed in when myself and my DH were in the room together. I didnt want to deal with the dog and a baby on my own. It took until my DS was around 2 for things to get better and he is now 5 and they have a great relationship.
The problem you have is that your dogs behaviour hasnt changed, and once your baby starts being mobile they will be more at risk of a bite. How are you actually dealing with the dog when he isnt being gentle or grumping? What does that look like?
I would absolutely bring a professonal in who can observe what your dog is specifically doing but, in the meantime:
1. Don't expect him to just know to be gentle around the baby. In his eyes, this tiny creature is unlikely to even be human. Keep them apart and safe using baby gates, leads etc. For example, you can be in the same room but perhaps your partner has the dog on a lead near them and you have the baby on the other side of the room. As with a pp, the dog and baby don't need to have a relationship - your 'job' is to make sure they don't do anything now that makes it harder for them to develop a relationship once your baby is a child.
2. Get him more attention. Whilst I totally empathise that new parenthood is exhausting and (probably) probably taking up all your moments, the dog won't ever understand that and he needs a certain amount to be content. Look at ways to outsource this work, such as dog walkers, day care (for the dog), friends and family, borrowmydoggy etc.
@picosdeeuropa aghrrr that sounds awful! So glad it got better for you. There's no snapping going on here and he doesn't intentionally hurt her. But for example he'll give her his paw (like he does to us when he wants attention) but obviously his paw is huge and scratchy to her. She seems pretty unfazed but I'm obviously keen to address the issue before it gets worse. I totally agree his behaviour hasn't changed and we're the problem...I just need to work out how to get him on board with effectively no longer being our first born! Atm if he's not gentle with her I tell him no and if he's being a huge pain e.g. pushing his way between visitors and the baby I put him in another room. I'm also mindful to praise him when he does the right thing.
@AmberShadesofGold thanks so much for your two tips. I don't think we need to be quite that strict with him as he's not snapping/growling etc. Or actually hurting her. But maybe I'm being naive. Really like your point about the two of them not needing a relationship atm...I'm very guilty of pushing for this! You're also right about him getting enough attention. He deffo missed out in those first few insane months, with me in Hosp with an infection, then lockdown with a newborn so totally on our own. Since then he's gone and stayed with a family member for a week a couple of times, who properly lavishes him with attention. He gets a decent walk every day, DH goes running with him a few times a week and every night he's on the sofa having cuddles with us.
No worries, you know him best. I still would focus on keeping everyone safe and - if you feel up to it - trying to think of rewards he can have when attention is on the baby so he starts to see those times as nice, rather than punishing.
Treat filled kongs, for example... so long as baby cannot grab for the food/toy/chew and trigger a bad response (when old enough to).
Since then he's gone and stayed with a family member for a week a couple of times, who properly lavishes him with attention. He gets a decent walk every day, DH goes running with him a few times a week and every night he's on the sofa having cuddles with us.
Oh I'd forgot about the kong - great suggestion!!