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Thread: Need help, my dog is irritated by my toddler

  1. #1
    Elite Member DeadDwarf's Avatar
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    Default Need help, my dog is irritated by my toddler

    My dog's being really irritable lately. He's grumpy and I think it's because of our 16 month old daughter. Our dog is almost 5 years old.

    When he's inside the house during the day, our daughter is in here too. She follows him around and tries to play with him, but most of the time he doesn't want to play with her, he wants to chew on his toys and be left alone. She doesn't hit him, she loves him and tries to pet him and hug him, but he doesn't want her near him 80% of the time.

    He use to run to another spot to get away from her, but now she is fast so everywhere he goes, she goes. And she sometimes takes his toys, runs away and tries to get him to chase her. He doesn't care for this game, he gets irritated and usually follows her, grabs his toy and walks away from her. Now 2-3 times a week, he is growling when she comes up to take his toy- those could be bad days for him though, we all have grumpy days. She's been getting into trouble for this for a while now and knows it's not okay to touch his toys, but she is 16 months and she just wants to find ways to play with her. We taught her how to play fetch with him, but he will bring the ball to us because she can't throw as far as he likes. Which makes her feel sad because she wants to throw him the ball.

    Tonight he was following my husband around and my daughter came up behind him to pet his back and he turned around and nipped her hand. She cried and was afraid of him. And I think he was irritable already and surprised when she snuck up behind him, hence while he nipped her. I went over to him and told him "No!" and went to grab his collar and he showed his teeth like he was going to bite me too. My dog has never bite us or acted like he was going to. Then he ran to the door so I could let him outside (he knew he was in trouble). Right now he is looking at us through the door and whimpering to come back inside..... I know he isn't being mean on purpose, he's just frustrated... I'm going to let him back in, but I need advice on how to help him deal with my daughter better.

    He's being fed, he's inside with us for quality time, he's outdoor to get air and have his quiet/alone time. He went to the vet for a check up recently and he was fine, he's on his flea medication and doesn't have any infections/fleas/bugs, etc. The only thing that has changed is his play time indoors, obviously because of my daughter.

    I've tried fixing thid problem by setting up a baby gated area in the living room so he could go in there and not have her harass him, but he wants to be near us and not in the secluded area (even though it's 3 feet from us). I let him hang out with me when she takes her nap and when she goes to bed at 8pm. This makes him super happy because he can lay on his pillow without anyone touching him. But what do I do for the rest of the day? Any advice? I understand his frustration, but my daughter isn't going anywhere, just like he's not going anywhere either. We have to learn to live together, happily! LOL

    Thanks for the advice guys!

  2. #2
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Maybe you can set aside some outdoor playtime to be with him? Like taking him for a long walk/jog outside or to the dog park for an hour or so. Something to wear him out, maybe he'll be too tired to need to hang out so close with you all the time. And maybe it will help him not be so frustrated with your daughter's attempts at playing with him. Don't they always say a tired, well-exercised dog is a happy dog?

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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    has the dog been subject to extreme loving before? it might just be new for him.
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    Elite Member DeadDwarf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beeyotch View Post
    Maybe you can set aside some outdoor playtime to be with him? Like taking him for a long walk/jog outside or to the dog park for an hour or so. Something to wear him out, maybe he'll be too tired to need to hang out so close with you all the time. And maybe it will help him not be so frustrated with your daughter's attempts at playing with him. Don't they always say a tired, well-exercised dog is a happy dog?
    Well, there's aren't any dog parks in our city, but we can take him on longer walks. That could probably help with the grumpiness too, maybe he will be too tired to care about our daughter trying to pet him. (lol) It's been raining a lot here so we are all stuck inside together, I'm sure that's not helping at all. We are all getting Cabin Fever!

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Ooh, I know what you mean about the rain, I'm in SoCal too. I have my dog too and it's just hard to get out in such nasty weather. The extra long walks will do him a lot of good. Sometimes I just run around with him in the back yard, chasing him and throwing his toy back and forth. I also remember The Dog Whisperer guy, Cesar Millan, almost always suggests putting the dogs on treadmills if the owners have one. Anything to give him exercise and tire him out, it's supposed to relax dogs, get out their excess energy and irritability.

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    Elite Member DeadDwarf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msdeb View Post
    has the dog been subject to extreme loving before? it might just be new for him.
    No, he was never really around toddlers before, well, not on a daily basis anyway. He always liked kids though, he was so excited to see them. When he chews on his toys, it's his "relaxing time", so we have always left him alone. He will go in the corner of the room, lay on his blanket and chew on his toys. He's happy doing that because we are all in the room together. But now our daughter is interrupting his happy time and he just seems frustrated with her. We never sneak up behind either, so that's new to him too. We pet him when he wants to be pet, we give him his space. So yeah, her extreme loving is different for him!

    Quote Originally Posted by Beeyotch View Post
    Ooh, I know what you mean about the rain, I'm in SoCal too. I have my dog too and it's just hard to get out in such nasty weather. The extra long walks will do him a lot of good. Sometimes I just run around with him in the back yard, chasing him and throwing his toy back and forth. I also remember The Dog Whisperer guy, Cesar Millan, almost always suggests putting the dogs on treadmills if the owners have one. Anything to give him exercise and tire him out, it's supposed to relax dogs, get out their excess energy and irritability.
    OMG, LOL. I never thought about a treadmill. We have one of those, how funny would that be! Our dog is small, he's like 13 lbs, so it's easy to tire him out. He'd probably freak out over the treadmill though, he hates the vacuum.
    Last edited by Tati; January 2nd, 2009 at 10:41 AM.

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    It is weird, but Cesar just ties them to the front stability bar all treadmills have, and starts them up until the dogs get the hang of it! I don't know, according to his show, it works! Worth a try.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Look,DD-that dog is displaying signs of aggression. He might be dangerous even without a child in the house. Either he has a physical problem or is slipping. You know you cannot tolerate this. Sadly,not all dogs do well with children. This one sounds like that kind of dog. He might do well with an all adult family,but his barring teeth at you is not good either. You know that. You have had your warning-you have to be a Mother FIRST. You must do something quick-next time he could do like a friend of mine's dog-go straight for the toddlers face. Your fault,entirely. You do not have this dog under control-he is. What breed is he? Move on this quickly. Your daughters safety has to come first. Protect her. Something is not right with the dog & it is more than hurt feelings. Get the vet and a dog trainer to see what can be done,but no dog is more important that your child.
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Um, look at it from a pack mentality: the dog just moved down a notch. He's been supplanted by a new member of the pack. He's not getting the level of attention he used to get, and probably feels neglected. He has to relearn his place in the pack, but obviously he can't have a territorial one on one with a baby. The interloper is also trying to take HIS toys. To your child, it's just playing. To the dog, he's thinking "wtf!"

    No doubt he's frustrated and annoyed and doesn't know where his place in the pack is anymore. He feels like he's been demoted and doesn't know why. If this goes on, it will come to a head.

    I would recommend not letting the kid near the dog for awhile (and certainly never alone), consulting some dog experts on how to reinclude him in the new heirarchy, and definitely, right away, spend more time with him. Play with him more, take him for longer walks.. with the new kid, the level of attention has definitely dropped. You have to reinclude him, and you all need to figure out how to reintegrate as a unit, with him learning his place.
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    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
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    I think a LOT of animals can get aggressive from time to time w/toddlers. My cat will too---and she was just adopted from the SPCA a few months ago and the NICEST DAMN CAT on the planet. Even she will swat at my 20 month old--when she's being insane.

    I've never had a dog, so I won't be of much help here, but I think the dog is just feeling the pinch of not being Numero Uno anymore. Since little DD is mobile.

    Good luck, I know that the posters here will give you good advice!

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LynnieD View Post
    I think a LOT of animals can get aggressive from time to time w/toddlers. My cat will too---and she was just adopted from the SPCA a few months ago and the NICEST DAMN CAT on the planet. Even she will swat at my 20 month old--when she's being insane.

    I've never had a dog, so I won't be of much help here, but I think the dog is just feeling the pinch of not being Numero Uno anymore. Since little DD is mobile.

    Good luck, I know that the posters here will give you good advice!
    But Lynnie! Most dogs do not get aggressive. They do not sound like this. This dog has to be gotten under total control or booted.
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    Gold Member laynes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by McJag View Post
    Look,DD-that dog is displaying signs of aggression. He might be dangerous even without a child in the house. Either he has a physical problem or is slipping. You know you cannot tolerate this. Sadly,not all dogs do well with children. This one sounds like that kind of dog. He might do well with an all adult family,but his barring teeth at you is not good either. You know that. You have had your warning-you have to be a Mother FIRST. You must do something quick-next time he could do like a friend of mine's dog-go straight for the toddlers face. Your fault,entirely. You do not have this dog under control-he is. What breed is he? Move on this quickly. Your daughters safety has to come first. Protect her. Something is not right with the dog & it is more than hurt feelings. Get the vet and a dog trainer to see what can be done,but no dog is more important that your child.

    Definitely consult a vet. It could be what Grimmlok is saying about being knocked down a notch and some training may help. However, it could also be something like a thyroid condition or another sickness that could cause a dog to become aggressive.
    Good luck.. I really hope it works out for your family!



  13. #13
    Elite Member DeadDwarf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by McJag View Post
    Look,DD-that dog is displaying signs of aggression. He might be dangerous even without a child in the house. Either he has a physical problem or is slipping. You know you cannot tolerate this. Sadly,not all dogs do well with children. This one sounds like that kind of dog. He might do well with an all adult family,but his barring teeth at you is not good either. You know that. You have had your warning-you have to be a Mother FIRST. You must do something quick-next time he could do like a friend of mine's dog-go straight for the toddlers face. Your fault,entirely. You do not have this dog under control-he is. What breed is he? Move on this quickly. Your daughters safety has to come first. Protect her. Something is not right with the dog & it is more than hurt feelings. Get the vet and a dog trainer to see what can be done,but no dog is more important that your child.
    He's not ill, there is nothing physically wrong with him. He was doing fine with her until she became mobile enough to run after him and steal his toys away. She use to hit him, pull his ears and pull his skin and he never growled/nipped her, he tolerated her completely. This just started in the past 2 weeks.

    When he showed his teeth to me, I think he was afraid. I told him "no" in the you are freaking trouble tone. He croutched and showed his teeth to me, when he saw I was pissed. He acted like I was going to beat him, which we never do. I think it's because he knew he was in deep shit after nipping the baby.

    He's a cairn and yorkie mix. He's not an agressive dog, he's a big baby- cuddles, whines and is super sensitive. He was never been like this before.
    I don't leave them alone together, EVER. I don't trust either of them right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    Um, look at it from a pack mentality: the dog just moved down a notch. He's been supplanted by a new member of the pack. He's not getting the level of attention he used to get, and probably feels neglected. He has to relearn his place in the pack, but obviously he can't have a territorial one on one with a baby. The interloper is also trying to take HIS toys. To your child, it's just playing. To the dog, he's thinking "wtf!"

    No doubt he's frustrated and annoyed and doesn't know where his place in the pack is anymore. He feels like he's been demoted and doesn't know why. If this goes on, it will come to a head.

    I would recommend not letting the kid near the dog for awhile (and certainly never alone), consulting some dog experts on how to reinclude him in the new heirarchy, and definitely, right away, spend more time with him. Play with him more, take him for longer walks.. with the new kid, the level of attention has definitely dropped. You have to reinclude him, and you all need to figure out how to reintegrate as a unit, with him learning his place.
    I definitely think he could benefit from a little more one on one time. When he comes over to us for loves, our kid runs over and moves him out of the way or tries to pet him, but it's not the petting he likes.

    He's a super sensitive dog, I really think he thinks she is bullying him. She wants to play and he takes it the wrong way and doesn't understand her behavior.

    Quote Originally Posted by LynnieD View Post
    I think a LOT of animals can get aggressive from time to time w/toddlers. My cat will too---and she was just adopted from the SPCA a few months ago and the NICEST DAMN CAT on the planet. Even she will swat at my 20 month old--when she's being insane.

    I've never had a dog, so I won't be of much help here, but I think the dog is just feeling the pinch of not being Numero Uno anymore. Since little DD is mobile.

    Good luck, I know that the posters here will give you good advice!
    Thanks. I have had friends with cats that acted similar to yours, I just don't know many people that had dogs before kids. My dog remembers what it was like before the baby, I think he misses being #1.

    Quote Originally Posted by McJag View Post
    But Lynnie! Most dogs do not get aggressive. They do not sound like this. This dog has to be gotten under total control or booted.
    I guess I don't know how to get him under control with this. If he growls when she takes his toy, I immediately tell him no and put him in the backyard dogpen for a "time out." He understands it means he did something bad. Just like after he nipped her tonight and she reacted to him, he knew he was in trouble and ran over to the door (for his time out). If he does anything bad, he is immediately punished with a no and a time out. I would take away his food, water, toys, anything and he never showed aggression towards me because he knew I was the boss and he couldn't get away with it. He's been a great dog, he's been well behaved up until 2 weeks ago. I admit these past two weeks we haven't been at home a whole lot (due to holiday stuff) and I am wondering if that has to do with his irriability as well. Also, maybe he thinks it's okay to growl at her because he thinks she is below him in the rank? (She's not much bigger than him and he's been around longer...)

    Right now my daughter is laying in the dog bed and he is licking her face. They've been like that for about 10 minutes.

    I'm hoping when she gets a bit older and understands that he needs his space, to be more gentle with him and to never steal his toys, that this behavior won't occur again. I know I need to do something in the meantime.


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    Elite Member DeadDwarf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laynes View Post
    Definitely consult a vet. It could be what Grimmlok is saying about being knocked down a notch and some training may help. However, it could also be something like a thyroid condition or another sickness that could cause a dog to become aggressive.
    Good luck.. I really hope it works out for your family!
    Thanks.

    I'll email my cousin (she's been a vet assistant for 5 years and she's in school to become a vet). I'll see what she suggests. He was just at her office for his annual check up and everything appeared to be fine.

    I'll let you guys know what she says.

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    Grimms' right. All dog psychology is about understanding the pack mentality and asserting yourself as Top Bitch! LOL This might need some tough love DD but you have to take some positive steps to make the dog understand that YOU are in charge and if he steps out of line you have to be prepared to punish him and mean it. Has he been desexed? If not, you can reduce a lot of this Alpha Dog aggressive behavior by removing his gonads. Seriously. He feels threatened by the baby and you just cannot afford to risk it. Even a little hairball dog can cause a lot of damage to a small child and if he does attack her she will probably become totally dog phobic (understandable) which is unfair on her.
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