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FionaBeth March 5th, 2014 06:10 PM

Dog's Behaviour- New Baby
Hello everyone. I have a black lab who is about four years old. We have a baby that is a few months old. Our dog has adjusted quite well to the new baby, but he is exhibiting some new behaviours recently which I am wondering about.

The other day, the baby, dog and I were all out for a walk. We encountered our neighbour, who my dog has met a few times before. The neighbour greeted my dog first, who reacted very happily (wagging tail, went right up to him). After greeting the dog, the neighbour spoke to my baby for a few minutes. He then returned to my dog. My dog proceeded to back away, bare his teeth and bark at my neighbour. Are these signs of jealousy? Protectiveness?

Our dog is interested in the baby, but he always calms right down around him. We do allow some interaction between the dog and the baby, under complete supervision. Recently, our baby has become more aware of the dog, and will pet him. The dog will lick the baby's hands very gently. However, his lips sometimes start to quiver and he moves his ears back. I have not continued to let the baby pet the dog since this happened because I am not sure what type of behaviour the dog is exhibiting and I want both the baby and dog to be safe.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Barkingdog March 5th, 2014 06:37 PM


I posted a link on how to read dog body language. I would not let you dog near your baby , he is showing signs of aggressive , ears pulled back and starting to show teeth is sign of aggressive .

FionaBeth March 7th, 2014 07:33 AM

Thank you for your response :) I appreciate you posting the link. I am a little bit confused about the ears pulled back indicating aggressiveness. I tried to find more information on this as well, but according to the link you posted:

"When your dog is relaxed and comfortable, he’ll hold his ears naturally. When he’s alert, he’ll raise them higher on his head and he’ll direct them toward whatever’s holding his interest. Your dog will also raise his ears up and forward when he’s feeling aggressive. If your dog has his ears pulled back slightly, he’s signalling his intention to be friendly. If his ears are completely flattened or stuck out to the sides of his head, he’s signalling that he’s frightened or feeling submissive." [url][/url]

Are there any suggestions for how I should be responding to my dog when he acts in this way? When he backed away/barked/bared his teeth at our neighbour, I wasn't exactly sure how to respond to our dog.

I am open to any suggestions to help further ease the major transition in our lives. Our dog did very well in training class right before the birth of our child, and we have kept up daily exercise. These new behaviours are concerning to me, and I am getting in touch with our dog's trainer as well. I used the forum in the past when I first rescued my dog, and I know that there are a lot of very informed members who I am hoping may be able to offer further advice :thumbs up

marko March 7th, 2014 09:33 AM

First off Welcome to the forum and I commend you on your observational skills. :highfive:

In terms of your neighbor, it's tough to say exactly what set off your dog. It might well be the jealousy/protective instinct.

But for me, the key thing is that you are able to calm your dog immediately down when it does gesture in an aggressive way. Best case scenario is that a firm NO! from you settles the dog right down.

Now that you have a baby, it's even more imperative imo, that your dog is obedient and stops its behaviour when you tell it to.

In general dogs rarely go from calm to aggressive in an instant. There are almost always signs and you are looking out for them. :highfive:

Given that you have keen observational skills and i expect they stay that way, I think you are safe overall....100% supervision is already on your menu and it's a recipe for success. As the child ages you'll see the required amount of supervision decrease.

When dooger's ears move back that's a sure sign the attitude has changed and stopping the petting as you are already doing is smart. A firm NO! (if and only if you feel that this is aggression based) would come from me at the same time as this behaviour was happening and all petting and attention stops immediately. That said, a dog's ears can go back for different reasons as BD's link suggest. You are the best interpreter of dooger's behaviour.

Labs are known to be gentle but all dogs are animals and many of them have strong prey drives. Kids have jagged movements that can elicit predatory behaviours..but this should not happen happen with you right there watching dooger's every move.

Hope this may help and curious to know what other members suggest.

Barkingdog March 7th, 2014 10:18 AM

I think there is one thing that need to be checked out is how does the dog react when someone wake it up while sleeping. I know some dogs hate to be bothered when sleeping , I know a person that got bitten on his hand when he touch the family dog during a nap. The dog was put down as the guy had two small kids and did not trust the dog around them. He had no idea how his dog was going to react and was glad one of his children was not bitten in the face.

FionaBeth March 7th, 2014 12:36 PM

marko- Thank you for the advice and kind words. I will work with Zeus on calming down upon my command. I will definitely remain watchful, especially as you mentioned because some labs can have strong prey drives. We did adopt a lab because of their gentle nature knowing that we would have children in our home. Our hope is that our son and him will grow to have a great relationship with one another.

Barkingdog- Thank you for your concern :) Zeus has no issues with being woken up, . He is generally a very docile dog, which is why his behaviour towards our neighbour too me aback.

Marty11 March 7th, 2014 01:11 PM

I don't have any advice but I can say I raised my two babies with Dobermans and Goldens with no issues. Never leave them unsupervised alone and I agree with above, as the child gets older it's gets easier. Does your dog chase the wildlife?

FionaBeth March 8th, 2014 05:44 AM

Sometimes yes and sometimes no. If there is a squirrel, pheasant, or other type of bird in our yard, he will chase them away off of the perimeter. When we are on walks, he usually isn't bothered (although he used to try to chase them) so that could be due to training.

FionaBeth April 16th, 2014 11:25 AM

I just wanted to update!

Since my son has started crawling, Zeus shows no signs of nervousness around him at all. He loves being followed around and will constantly try to lick my son. It was challenging having a dog when my son was a newborn but I am definitely seeing the payoffs now that they are interacting. Of course we are teaching my son to be gentle and they are never left unattended.

We are still working on his issues while out on walks- a work in progress!

Goldfields April 17th, 2014 11:30 AM

FionaBeth, pleased to read your latest post here, it sounds as if dog and baby might be a great partnership.
Marko, you wrote ...
In general dogs rarely go from calm to aggressive in an instant.

True but I've had it happen and it wouldn't surprise me at all if the Lab thought it should protect the baby. I had a cattle dog that grew up knowing a friend and his daughter. One day we left her chained up alone(this was before I had my dog yards) because we had to take another ACD to the vet. So, the friends called in and the daughter went to say hi to Snoopy, who apparently acted overjoyed to see her for a bit, then must have decided no, I'm in charge and supposed to protect the place and according to the girl's father 'she went beserk'. As the daughter was backing away, she was snapping at her. My answer to that was that she was actually being polite about it, that she was fast enough to have bitten her if she wanted to. I would suggest that supervision would always be needed, FionaBeth, just because your dog is protective, not because it would ever hurt your child.

FionaBeth April 17th, 2014 11:49 AM

Thanks for your response, Goldfields. And not to worry, I fully intend to always supervise. I am definitely of the mind that no matter how friendly a dog is (or how much you trust your dog), they are still an animal and may act in ways that are not expected.

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