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Toddlers and pets

491 Views 9 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  alexsam
I'm hoping for some new ideas. DS is obsessed with our dog and cat, which I know is totally normal. Dog is old (13) and big (70 lbs.). I hate to see DS abusing dog by yanking ears and such, but if I try to put dog safely away (behind baby gate or outside), he barks incessantly. He will growl when really provoked. Scary.

Nothing we've tried with DS has worked for the animals. He laughs and laughs no matter what our response is. We've been telling him "be gentle" since he could crawl. Clearly it didn't work. We've tried explaining to DS that he's hurting them, they don't like it. I've tried holding him on my lap for a couple minutes.

Is there a better way?

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I don't have any great ideas and will be anxious to see other responses here. I just wanted to say you're not alone. My daughter does pretty well with the dog (of course he can take most anything), but she is too rough with the cats. She is slowly getting better, but when she gets excited she forgets. She also knows that grabbing fur is a quick way to keep them from running away. We just continue to try to demonstrate how to treat the animals and tell her to be gentle. This is the one area where we have tried sort of a time-out for her. She was continuing to badger the cats and laugh about it so I sat her down with me and she had to sit for 2 minutes with me. I tried to use it as a time for her to calm down and to talk about how we treat the animals. It helped some, but we continue to work on this problem.
Hi! You're definitely not alone! We have a great dane (160 pounds) and several cats. With the cats, we have adopted a natural consequences policy. If they pull on the cat or whatever and get scratched...well, then they learned they shouldn't pull on the cat. I dont' know if that's mean or not, but I got to the point where I just could not possibly keep them away from the cats anymore, so I adopted that policy and for the most part it works.
With the dog, I cannot do that because he's so big, he could actually injure them. I am just very very very consistant about "you may not jump on alex" "you may not pull on alex" " you may not *whatever* to alex" sometimes I feel like a broken record, but I have to be consistant. There are some things in life that I am not conistant about, and I know that I should be. But with a 160 pound dog, I really have stuck to consistancy, and it actually does work *with time*. For a while, you will feel like a big freaking broken record. You will have to repeat yourself a million times, but I think it will pay off. I pat Alex, or pet him or show the kids what is ok to do to Alex, but whenever they are doing something innapropriate, I stop the behavior immediately and say "you may not do that to Alex"
A bonus on that is that Alex is extremely patient with them.

Good luck!!
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I was always worried about our DD (now 19 months) and our dogs and cat. I especially worried about our older dog (he passed away about a month ago) b/c he was always a grumpy old man. But to her, he was so patient and nevery growled or showed aggression. Fortunately, she went along with being gentle, although she's very loving to animals - wants to hug and kiss them.

The dog I never worried about was MIL and FIL's old black lab. He is a big, sweet dog and generally didn't mind her affections. MIL did hear him growl occasionally, so she worried but I thought she was being overly nervous. I left DD with her for an hour while i had a medical appointment when she had just turned 1. I drove up to her house after leaving my appointment and saw a fire truck on the street, then pulled into the drive and there was an ambulance backing out. I parked and ran over and an EMT said "are you the mother?" It was the scariest moment of my life. MIL was also watching my neice and nephew, so I asked what happened. He said "the dog bit the baby girl." He then opened the ambulance door and I saw my baby, screaming and covered in blood and my hysterical MIL holding a towel to her face. When she showed me the gaping holes in RObin's face, I started to lose it too, but the EMT told me I had to stay calm for her. I pulled it together and mostly held it together while we were rushed to the hospital, she was cleaned up, given ketamine to knock her out, then received stitches for the cut that went all the way through her cheek next to her mouth and the jagged one to the bone a few centimeters from her eye. THey couldn't stich the other puncture wounds. The docs were worried that I shouldnt' hold her while they worked on her b/c they didn't think I could take it. But how could I not hold her as she went through all that? Once she got home she couldn't nurse or eat for a few days, and we had to keep changing the dressings and cleaning the wounds. Then we had to take her back to be strapped down and have the stiches pulled out of the scarred wounds. Here are some pix from the next few days (including before px from her 1st birthday and after pix from last month):

SHe woke up the next morning and said "dog" and went to hug our beagle - even though her face was so swollen she couldn't close her mouth. There have been no long-term consequences other than scars. But it could have been her eye or her life. I wish someone had really made me think about the consequences of the dog's aggression - I would have made different decisions. I just wanted to share this story - if you are worried AT ALL, even a LITTLE BIT about the dog being aggressive, KEEP IT AWAY FROM YOUR CHILDREN. Can you live with the worst possible outcome? I hope that the story of what happened to my little girl might help prevent other such incidents. Take the precautions to protect your kids.

(by no means do I think that all dogs are aggressive towards children - but if a dog is willing to growl or nip at a child, it's probably also willing to get a bit more aggressive. A friend consulted trainers at the humane society after my DD got bt b/c her dog had snipped at her toddler 3 times. The trainer said that b/c the dog had 1) escalated to the point of using teeth and 2) done it more than once, these are signs that the dog is too aggressiive for kids and can't be trained otherwise. Agree of not, that was their advice. I will never trust my child near a dog that growls at her or shows any aggression again.)
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wow yo becca. i am so glad that your dd is ok (and mighty cute too--thanks for the pics). what a scary thing to have happen to her and you and your family.
i was bitten on the face by a "friendly" dog when i was a kid. i don't really blame the dog i blame the owner (my cousin) for not keeping the dog put away during a large family function.
if you are worried at all about the dog i would definitely keep it away from your kids.
as for cats, we have 2 and we also adopt the natural consequences approach. mostly they just leave when dd does something that bugs them. which is most of the time. hee hee.
OMG I'm glad that Beccas little girl is ok now. We also do a natural consequence with our cats. We have a dog too. I trust her but I also know that she is a dog. And every animal even human animal have a breaking point. So if she seems irritated I will put her away from ds for awhile. Actualy that has only been once. She didn't growl she just started whining and looking at me like HELP! so I let her out. In the case of the older dog, he would probably be achey and the little toddler could just be to much. We have always done gentle touch and rubbed our arm to show him and the dog. We constantly have to repeat. I agree with the pp about consistency and sounding like a broken record. IMO I would take the dog away from dc when dc is to rough. It sounds like it has turned into a wonderful game and before your poor old dog hits his breaking point there has to be a removal from the situation, I don't mean to get rid of him, I don't beleive in that, but a time out for the pup. Somewhere ds can't get at him. So that way you can prevent it escalating into a horrible incident. It may never come to that, but you can never tell. I know the barking is a lot to handle but it is better than having to get rid of him for biting if it reaches that point. I hope someone else can help out more.
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I agree, a dog is a dog. My MIL has a snippety little dog and it has snapped at ds a few times which always freaks me out. MIL always says that he won't bite - now, I don't argue with her, but I don't trust that dog not to bite just like I don't trust our 2 dogs not to bite. Of course they will if they are provoked enough.

Anyway, my ds is 2.5 yo and he's gotten better and better about knowing what his limits are with the dogs. For example, he knows he can pet them nicely, give them treats, kiss their face and even sit beside them (and even lay his head on them with supervision.) But, sometimes, he actually likes to antagonize them (pulling tail, hitting them on the back, etc.) When he does this, I tell him that he needs to be nice to them because doing X hurts and makes them sad. If he keeps it up, I let the dogs outside for a little while (we have a fenced yard and they love it anyway.) And, usually when they come back in, ds has found something else to get involved with.
We are having similar problems with DD and my SIL's Beagle who bites. I just keep her away and have also done time outs holding and talking to her. He has bitten her twice - and the last time was with DH even though I warned him what would happen so now I am scared to leave her with DH. Otherwise I just keep her away from him.

Honestly I am really paranoid about animals and toddlers because I am a vet and have seen the consequences both to the toddlers and also the animals. I do not trust my own dog who is much bigger than a Beagle so I keep her apart, and we practice gentle touch with the other animals who are more tolerant. I just have to say that I have seen some very nasty cat bites so would not under estimate what a cat can do either.

Nothing is working with DD though, she then tried to run up to the Beagle with a toy and give the toy a time out. She runs up and tried to touch him and give herself a time out. It just became a big game for her and the biting seemed to make it more fun. So if there is any danger your animal could hurt a toddler I would separate them, and even if you think there is not supervise at all times, as even a wonderful dog or cat has its limits.
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OMG How scary Becca!

My dd is 5 and still antagonizes the dogs, both small rat terriers. One will put up with anything but the other will growl if he gets squashed and then will lick dd's face. If she doesn't respond he will growl again and fake snap and then lick her face again. Like if you don't stop harassing me this is what I am going to do.

I try to get her to understand that he doesn't like it when she is rough but she doesn't listen because he has always done this and has never hurt her and also when he does that he will usually give in and start playing with her.
I have a friend who does "One finger", meaning that her ds can pet animals with one finger. Her rationale is he can't do much damage with just one finger! It actually seems to work well. He points one finger and pets with it
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