New baby=Overprotective Bulldog! Aggressive!

    • Gold Top Dog

    New baby=Overprotective Bulldog! Aggressive!

    Well, our little Aiden has been here since September, and I LOVE being a mommy. (To my infant AND Pibbles).

    Except...my properly socialized and trained pit/bulldog mix Stewie has turned into a baby guarding machine.  It took about one week of baby being home for Stewie to fall in love with  baby Aiden, and then his behavior completely changed.

    He now is always on guard wherever he goes. His hairs on his rump and back of neck always standing up when away from the baby outside.  We used to be able to take him on car rides with us, but now because the baby comes with we can't because he barks and growls at anyone who comes near the car.  Ususally our pups would wait 5-15 minutes while we ran a short errand in the car...but now we can't because I take the baby with and my sweet Stewie literally looks like he is gonna bark his head off at anyone who walks near the car!

    Obviously he feels it's nescessary, and is nervous when anyone gets around the baby.  This has lead us to have to begin making plans for a 6' wood fence to go up, and make a lot of changes.  I don't mind making these changes...but I'm not sure where to start!  I have started taking him places without the baby...just me and him like to the forest preserve for walks and to my dad's farm for hours of playtime....but it doesn't change a thing when the baby is around.

    He ran barking to the edge of our yard growling at the neighbor dog and neighbors the other day...which he has never done before.  I know a lot of it is maturity...he's 2 now and "all growed up"...and I knew this certainly could happen....but I guess I'm just not sure where to start?  Do I start re-socializing him all over again?  Do I use some specialized training?  I'm willing to go the extra mile just so that he can feel secure out of the home with the baby...and I didn't get my dogs for other people...just for me, so if he can't do certain things that's totally fine, and we're doing a big fenced in yard this summer so he can have privacy...and not drive our neighbors bonkers with his barking.

    Where to start?  Where to start? :)

    • Gold Top Dog

    Let me preface this with the statement I do not work with Pitbulls.   In our corner of the world you are far more likely to run into poorly bred  pitts than well bred ones. (While I admire their appearance I do not take chances) That being said I have a breed with stregnth and intensity equal to the Pitt breed ( Rhodesian Ridgebacks) so I can offer some training tips that worked for our pack. We normally have anywhere from 5 to 8 RRs at any given time.  They are house dogs. We use the yard for play and exercise only.  In the past 12 years we have added to our home 5 ( FIVE) grandkids.  It became apparent from the beginning that training was essential. So before baby ever came home we were working the pack.  RRs are very scent oriented so we made sure they knew every scent associated with a healthy baby before they ever came home. This served us extremely well as they saved my eldest Alabama Grandson when he had a SIIDS incident.  Then went on to become his 4 legged baby monitors.  

    Allow me to suggest the following , your dog is displaying an elevated sense of protection becasue he is unconfident about what his role is in the new baby's world. That he loves him is most likely a given.  But never being allowed to define his role or having it defined for him makes him reactive as opposed to guarding.  Taking him for walks alone are essential but with these walks and at home you MUSY put him through exercises.  Sits, downs, stays and if possible teach him to retrieve certain items. a clean diaper, a special bear to lay in the crib etc. By focusing his brain on following commands and working you teach him that he is welcomed near baby, even needed near the little one but that YOU have the con.  If he follows your instruction and leads he is occupied and busy. If left to his own devices he worries and makes his own schedules for how to care for baby.

    I would suggest if at all possible enrolling him in a class. I know just what you need with a newborn at home. However in a class situation he is further stimulated and working that razor sharp brain following, learning and socializing.   He then respects you work when you come home. I am one one for teaching "tricks'. However tricks actually in this situation can be standard commands used differently. IE  Downing him next to the baby swing, high chair or crib with a command that is phrased differently  rather than a flat "Down" try  "Post" Have a "baby" toy near the down spot and when a family member or later friend walks in have him take the toy to them first.   Do not allow visitors , and yes that means family to walk into the room and go nuts over baby before acknowloging the baby's guardian.   No shrill or high pitched voices just common conversational tones. that are addressed first to him letting him see that there is no secondary intention in their visit. Have them sit and have him sit stay.  Then YOU hand baby to them. Speaking to him as well as your guests.  Letting him once again know this is Your show, your in command and control.  Same with walks If you hold his lead someone else may push the stroller.  Allowing him to understand once more he is your boy , the baby is YOURS and you call the shots.   When ever you have visitors watch him carefully , when a dog of any breeed is reactive you must heighten your powers of observation. Assuring that mistakes are not made. It only takes one aggressive growl or lunge to forever change the dynamic of the dog's place in the world.  With a breed that has so many people who are not fans in any way you simply have to train, train , train.  And finally while you would trust your dog with your life and I get that, I have done the same with my pack of  Ridgebacks, I never, EVER leave them alone with a child. Not because of the dog as much as there is no way to know what the child may do that could cause a problem . So starting when they are infants , there is always an adult with them.  No leaving baby on the floor with dog near by while I answer a phone etc.  IT allows You a feeling of comfort as opposed to making YOU  aware that the child is alone with the dog.  An injury to a child can be severe and can come from something as simple as being stepped on by a large dog or washed too enthusuastically making baby take fright.  It needn't be a mean spirited action. 

    Best of luck with your pack and new born ,  You know in life you are the best and most essential advocate for both your dog and your child.

    • Gold Top Dog

     Check out these sites:

    http://dogsandstorks.com/

    http://www.livingwithkidsanddogs.com/

    Even if your dog is protecting your baby, he needs information, in language he understands, that it's not his job.  Dogs can also start "resource guarding" a person, even a baby, so it might also help to become educated on that.  Jean Donaldson's "Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs" is a great reference, even though it covers food aggression more than the other types.

    • Gold Top Dog

    Well, we're still working on it...but I think we're making progress!  I decided to just start from square ONE!

    We started resocializing Stewie by sitting outside a dog park and seeing how nicely other dogs can play. We have been doing TONS of walks with and without the baby and Stewie and I have been trying to strengthen our bond.  We have been working one on one with a GREAT kennel owner and trainer, and my little Stewie is quite the talented boy! He is doing well with tons of tricks, commands, and we just started agility to help him gain some confidence.

    I appreciate everyone being SO understanding on this forum about my pitties...Stewie definitely is a very impurely bred dog. Probably bred very poorly.  I admit I have a terrible soft spot for pitbulls...no matter how well or poorly bred. It's definitely rewarding working with him, and bringing out the good and dampening out the bad. 

    I've just been treating him like a dog I had never had before...starting from square one.  We've noticed his barking, his hair standing on end, and his growling when someone touches his paws is almost non-existant. He is definitely a very fearful and unsure dog. Not sure what is right or wrong.  So we are re-teaching and hoping to take it to new levels.

    Stewie's newest and most FAVORITE job is to go get a toy for the baby! We have a bunch of plastic toys in a bin by the television, and Stewie knows "Go get Aiden a toy!" and will choose one and bring it to him. Baby Aiden SQUEALS with laughter and his silly Stewie is so proud!

    So thank you...It's going to be a long road...but I think we're gonna get there! I'll keep updating our journey.  We still cannot walk by other barking dogs with Aiden in the stroller...stewie cannot handle that.  We also are unable to have dogs in the backyard adjacent to ours with Stewie and Aiden on the porch together, or stewie barks like crazy...but we're working on that!

    • Gold Top Dog

     The only thing that gave me pause reading your post was that you said you were "treating him like a dog" which can be trainerspeak for "pack theory" or "dominance theory" - if it is, you may want to read this: http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonline/images/stories/Position_Statements/dominance%20statement.pdf.  I don't know how far Rockford is from Barrington, but Terri Tepper is a KPCT and is located there if you should want to change methodology at any point.  I know that she would certainly understand the principles that would help your dog eventually get better at walking by barking dogs.  So, if you don't have much success at doing whatever it is you're doing, you can call her, or get a referral from her.

    • Gold Top Dog
    spiritdogs

     The only thing that gave me pause reading your post was that you said you were "treating him like a dog" which can be trainerspeak for "pack theory" or "dominance theory" - if it is, you may want to read this: http://www.avsabonline.org/avsabonline/images/stories/Position_Statements/dominance%20statement.pdf.  I don't know how far Rockford is from Barrington, but Terri Tepper is a KPCT and is located there if you should want to change methodology at any point.  I know that she would certainly understand the principles that would help your dog eventually get better at walking by barking dogs.  So, if you don't have much success at doing whatever it is you're doing, you can call her, or get a referral from her.

    Oh no, I said that somewhat wrong!  I meant to have it read...I am treating him like a dog that we have never had before....not treating him like a dog/pack theory.  Just like he just came fresh to us like we just adopted him.  Honestly, I hope my post sounded positive...he's definitely doing better and I really don't think I'll change a thing about how we are doing!  I'm definitely very proud of him!  We have a great trainer here we just started going to this week...he has been training dogs since 1949 and runs a class with his sons on his property and Stewie is responding great!  Sorry if I made my post sound negative...things really are going well!  I hope that came across...I don't do anything with pack theory or dominace theory...that's not for us. I'm just treating him like a new dog to our family is what I should have said! :)