Resources For families with dogs and babies!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My bunny or yours?

Photo taken with me standing right there. Never leave dog and baby unattended together. Take extra care when toys are involved.
It has been awhile since my last post. Yes, life with a baby and 3 other kids is busy and I am reminded of how hard it is to keep up with everything sometimes. I am sure many Moms out there can relate. We are capturing many teachable moments and will be posting more. Here is one from our Easter weekend.
Many families ask about toy confusion and their dog. Here are some tips.
1. Limit the number of toys (even to just one) that you direct your dog to. Name that toy. For example: Our shepherd Moose loved his ball. We had one special ball that we would always direct him to by saying "go get your ball." This allowed for many games as he would have to search for THAT ball. Naming a toy and only allowing that toy to be theirs is helpful as it limits confusion. That is theirs and the others are not.
2. If your dog loves fuzzy toys like Windsor (photo above) then you will need to "manage" your baby's toys. Keeping them out of reach is usually the best option. If you can again have ONE that is just your dog's then this is helpful. They will make mistakes and be interested in new furry toys so be prepared and play a game to reinforce that only their toy is for them.
Throw about 5 toys (4 of them being your dog's) and one being your baby's new furry one on the floor. Allow your dog to sniff and investigate. If he selects your baby's new him one of his and reinforce him for leaving the baby's alone. Repeat this game several times and then decrease the number of his choices. Use the name of your dog's toys and tell him to find bunny, find monkey or whatever. If he grabs the baby's can do one of several options:
1. give "leave it" command then redirect to his toy. Play for a minute as reward.
2. Redirect by showing him his toy and use it's name..."here's your bunny." Then remove the baby's toy.
Repeat this.
Always supervise when your baby and dog are in the same space. Once crawling NEVER expect that your dog will leave baby's toy alone when you are not in the room. Supervision is a must at all times. It is natural for dogs and babies to want to investigate an object of others attention. Practicing with your dog will benefit all. Don't expect your dog to "just know" it is the baby's. Set up activities to play the game above and allow your dog to select his toys from a pile of toys. You can use a dab of another scent if you choose but I figure the dog's toys smell like him and the baby's do not. That has worked for us.
New toys are always a novelty and for some dogs need to be introduced with structure. Other dogs don't care. Know your dog!
Dogs who guard toys....If you have a dog that guards their toys, space or people please seek the help of a professional! Guarding behavior and babies must be dealt with very carefully. Don't assume it will get better. Get help!

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