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 Husky and Toddler

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jayrowe
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PostSubject: Husky and Toddler    Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:58 pm

Hi All,
About a year ago we welcomed our baby girl into the world. Since we brought her home our 7 year old male, Gus, really hasn’t wanted much to do with her. Occasionally he would sleep in the hallway outside her room, and as much as we like to think he was protecting her, I think it’s more because it was just a comfortable spot. Now that she’s crawling and starting to walk every now and then she’ll get close to him and he’ll growl at her and even turned to snap once when she grabbed a handful of his fur, which is understandable. Obviously we would never leave the two alone unsupervised but over the years Gus has never shown aggression towards anyone. He has caught his share of ground hogs in the past but has always been the most gentile dog when it comes to people and kids. For the past 7 years he got all of our attention and since we brought the baby home we still try to give him as much if not more attention than before. Does anyone have any tips or know if this is just a phase he may be going through? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
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aljones
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:46 am

Hey Jay<?>, since no one else has responded I'll take a stab at it.
I'd say that Gus is having a problem determining just what his place in the pack order is.  Before your daughter was brought into the picture, it was you, your spouse and then him.  Now there's a new presence and he's not sure about her.
I think it safe to say that you have reason to be concerned with him snapping at her, even if there was no contact, she quite probably doesn't realize that he's telling her that he's uncomfortable.  Also presume that you corrected him immediately. There are No allowances for a dog to snap at a family child.
While you don't indicate what interaction there has been between the two of them the fact that she's getting around now insures that there will be more.  
I think that stating it abruptly, unless he changes his tone quickly - it might be best to find a place for Gus, short term or long term, where there are no toddlers.  I know that's not what you wanted to hear but safety for the child, as I'm sure you know, has to come first.
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lillith87
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:42 pm

I wouldn't suggest thinking of replacement or re-homing. A lot of huskies end up in kill shelters because of people's excuses that their life became so hard for whatever reason and abandon their pets. And it isn't fair to drop a dog into someone's lap.

There are lots of things you can do to try and make him more comfortable around the baby.
First of all you should condition him to being grabbed and touched in odd places... Just randomly come up to him and (not hard) grab his whiskers or his ear, or his tail, and then give him a treat. Do something like this only a couple of times a day, because over-doing it will just become stressful for him. You want him to start enjoying, or at least accepting these weird things you are doing to him.

Gradually work up to him being on a tether, and the baby in your lap, and let the baby explore the dog, may it be touching him, or petting him, or just talking to him. This will begin a form of bonding if you will. It will allow them to properly introduce one another, because you will be right there to calmly correct any misbehavior from him so he learns what his boundaries are. I don't suggest leaving him unsupervised with the baby on the prowl if he has snapped at her, this is unacceptable. I would assume you have a crate and a baby pen? I would alternate their alone time outside of their confinement for now, this will at least let him know that he has his own special time and so does the baby.

When I first got my pup, my daughter was 3 almost 4. It was an upwards battle at first, because all Okami wanted to do was jump on and knock over my daughter... As Cassidy as aged a little, she is 5 now, and Cassidy has calmed down, they have become used to one another... actually Okami has become very gentle and calm Nature around and ONLY around my daughter. I don't know how exactly I got them like that, but I guess it was just an overtime- work up to thing. I just exposed them being together more and more over a gradual amount of time. It really is the best I can say.

If nothing seems to be working, there is always the option to bring in a professional trainer- do research and find one that specializes in bringing babies home to a dog.

But please, don't give up! You have much support here.

btw, your boy is really handsome, they do love that snow!
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jayrowe
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 1:42 pm

Thank you for the replies.

Rest assured relocating or re-homing him would NEVER be a consideration, he’s a member of our family!

We most certainly corrected him when he snapped at her right away.

It’s funny you mention the grabbing him thing because we have done that to him since he was a puppy, but haven’t practiced it in a while so that sounds like a good place to start. We have also been slowly introducing them like you mention and that seems to be helping. We having been also teaching her how to pet him nicely and not grab his fur. We don’t create him because someone is home all day and we have a large fenced in yard so there’s never been a need.

Thanks again for all the support and I’m going to look into the trainer.

One other question, we are considering getting another Husky because we’ve always heard they are better in pairs. Would this help the situation or would it make Gus feel more isolated?

Thanks
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aljones
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 1:52 pm

Lucy, I really could not agree more to most of your post.  I think the major point that concerned me is that both have been in the house for a year; Gus should have adapted to the childs presence by now.
The OP seems to have their head on straight regarding helping Gus and their daughter to understand what is and isn't acceptable so with a lot of work, things should work out right for all concerned.

I *do* like your suggestions to help them adapt - I think I was responding more to the snap than anything else - I'd not like to see Gus rehomed but at base when it comes to child -vs- dog I don't know many who'd choose the dog. Smile

and since the OP responded while I was typing. Personally, I wouldn't add another dog to the mix right now. Possibly in a year or so when your daughter's older but at the moment I think the addition would be more confusing - for both of them - than doggy companionship for Gus.
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lillith87
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:01 pm

Yes, I agree that he should have adapted by now, but Some huskies don't usually accept babies as a "Man-child" until they have established more of their own personality and self control. The baby is unpredictable and hyper so it is confusing to most dogs when kids are that age. I bet when she starts walking and talking, he will loosen up and realize who she is better.

I am sorry to hear that you don't crate :/ .. I always try to list the benefits of crating, but considering your dog is 7 years old.. it may be a little late to try crate training.

It probably isn't a great idea to introduce another husky to your family for a little while. I would say when your daughter is at least 3-6 years old would be a good age to introduce another one.

If you want your dog to have an outlet with another dog, you could try to get some more play dates in the mix for him, look on Facebook for your states H2M2 group... there are many people that love to hang out with fellow people with huskies there. I would say up his activity level too, tired huskies are happy huskies. If you tire the boy out, he may even not care about anything the little girl does to him.
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:09 pm

As for adapting - I think the issue is that the toddler is mobile now. He may be trying to "train" her like he would a puppy.
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aljones
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:30 pm

Thanks Amy, I was going to draw that analogy too but didn't think it'd be appreciated Smile

Obviously Jay is concerned enough to voice their concerns, but the absolute "won't rehome" is both understandable and a bit disconcerting. *if* they think that Gus will adapt now that the little one is more mobile then it's definitely worth the effort to help him; I think it's my concern (as the bachelor owner of two) that one bite on a child is one too many.
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lillith87
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:43 pm

I agree, if Okami ever bit Cassidy, I would be beside my self with grief.. I wouldnt' know what to think or do in that situation.. I mean I know what I would tell others, but I don't usually want to take my own advice, even if it is the right thing to do. But considering that Gus didn't bite the baby, there is room for action.

I agree Amy and Al, Gus is probably reacting to her the way he would to a puppy.

To be fair, I did suggest that the OP crate Gus while the baby is out and about getting tummy time and crawling exploration, and visa versa... since the OP doesn't crate, that leaves that option out of the mix- and why I redirected to more activity outside of the home for Gus to tire him flat out so he wouldn't be concerned with man-child-puppy distractions.

Every situation just needs an approach that positively puts them both in a situation set up to succeed.
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MiyasMomma
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 3:04 pm

Every situation just needs an approach that positively puts them both in a situation set up to succeed. That is one of the best lines I've ever read, and so very important. Great words of wisdom Lucy!!

My only thing I will add to this is the dog is older, 7 years old is considered middle aged, he may be more testy to a wee one than say a 2 year old dog. His bones and joints may be starting to bother him on certain days, although 7 is certainly not old, huskymom09 has a 10 year old still pulling, but add a baby into the mix, pulling on fur, poking him, loud high pitch voice, may be distracting and a big change for him. I would certainly up his outside activity, and teach baby to be gentle. I do know my mom used baby gates and playpens and always supervised. My sister did what Lucy did, crated dog when baby was around and slowly introduced and taught the boys to be gentle. I have no kids, so I can not be much of a help, but I wish you luck, and in time I'm sure baby and husky will be best of friends.
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:08 pm

I would not get rid of the dog at this point - keep them separated when the toddler is roaming around (give Mr. Dog a comfy, snug place to chill while baby is about, use baby's nap time to pamper Mr. Dog. Do a little every day, teaching the little Miss to respect the dog, pat the dog nicely, be gentle with the doggie, etc....I'm assuming Mr. Dog did not "snarl-growl" with teeth showing, then I'd be much more cautious about separation.

Are you able to manage walks with baby in stroller and dog on leash?

Ami doesn't growl at the grand kids but he sure does "bounce". Poor Ira (4 at the time) got caught in the middle of a major zoomie - like being in the center of a tornado. He was terrified at the time but now "loves Ami - he's so soft" My other grandson is much more timid - he got knocked over by Ami's bouncing and that was that...keeps his distance. Both dog and kids are, however, learning ow to be with each other.
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aljones
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:08 pm

In my initial message, I was certainly not advocating a "Drop Everything, Take the Dog to the Shelter" response, and I hope it wasn't interpreted as that.  It was well over 12 hours since Jay ( Since he doesn't have his profile filled out, I'll refer to him [though I'm even sure about that] as Jay ) posted his original message and *I* would have been hoping to some type of response.  I'm glad that everyone has pitched in with such good responses.
And yes, I like the sentence about setting them both up to succeed, as well.
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jayrowe
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:30 pm

Thanks you everyone for your input. Sorry for the delayed response.
In think i may have painted the picture a little worse than it actually was. There was no snarling or growling showing teeth or anything like that. He and i were laying on the floor and she came up behind him and grabbed his hind quarter and he jerked his head around and and let out a mmrrrrrr as opposed to a GGRRROOWWWLLL (sorry don't know how else to type it). He actually never really growls in the typical sense of the word and i cant remember a time when he's ever showed teeth. Since he was a puppy we have always grabbed him from behind (gently of course) and gotten in his face and all that to get him use to that sort of thing. As far as crating him, we actually did that when he was a puppy but he was very sick when he was little and the crate posed a lot of issues (very long story, but we almost lost him twice mostly due to the wrong vet.
He does get plenty of his "own time" and he often comes to the office with me as well as has plenty of his "own" space both inside and outside.
I guess my main question was why isn't he all lovey-dovey towards her like he see in the youtube and internet pictures (i know you cant believe everything you see on-line) and it sounds like its just a bit of an adjustment period. Thanks Everyone!!!
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Huskyluv
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:42 am

Jay, I have a 9 yr old sibe who for 7 yrs was "top dog" in our household. I also have a 2 yr old daughter and a 1 yr old son who have since overtaken his position as number one "baby". Being a senior with arthritis, our boy is less patient and prefers more quiet time apart from the kids. He has always been awesome with babies and kids but as he's aged he wants less to do with the under 2 yrs old crowd. For the sake of his personal space, my kids' safety, and my peace of mind (because let's face it, even the best parent cannot be on top of their child every second) I have a baby gate set up so that my sibe has his own special kid free area of the house. Yes it also means he is separated from us adults more than we mutually prefer but overall this just works out better for him and the kids while they are as young as they are.

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jayrowe
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:44 am

Thank you Valerie. Sounds like a very similar situation. It does seem as though when the sister-in-law comes over with her kids who are between 2 and 4 he has no problem with them. So, Like Lucy mentions above, she needs to establish her personality more. And we'll continue to work on their interaction skills together. Everyone stay well and get ready for the snow... I know Gus is looking forward to it!!!
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mbarnard0429
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:41 pm

Honestly? I think you should consider another siberian. I would get a two year old female that is kid friendly. Rescues have Siberians and an adult female could be a perfect match. I think it could help him bond to something, give him an outlet other than playing with humans. It would be an adjustment, but I think it would be worth it.
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: Husky and Toddler    Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:35 pm

@mbarnard0429 wrote:
Honestly? I think you should consider another siberian. I would get a two year old female that is kid friendly. Rescues have Siberians and an adult female could be a perfect match. I think it could help him bond to something, give him an outlet other than playing with humans. It would be an adjustment, but I think it would be worth it.

I'm not sure if the timing is right for a second BUT I do know that having Archer here half the week is a god-send. For both dogs - they romp and romp and romp. When they are finally tuckered out, the sleep, while not exactly cuddled, about as close as you can get without actually touching (Ami's "personal space" Laughing ). They are much more calm, settled. When Archer goes home after 3-4 days, both dogs sleep almost the whole day. Two days later, Ami is full of the ol' scratch, stretching boundaries, leaping, pacing, needing rough, physical play.

So, Megan may be right on the money.
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