We recently had the great privilege to work with an adorable family, teaching their dogs to respect their one-year-old twins. They gave us a call when the twins began crawling. Their favorite place to dart was right toward their dogs to pet them. The older lab wasn't fond of this and would start warning growls when the kids were near. Since the babies were too young to understand the rules about dogs - not getting in a dogs face, no pulling or tugging on a dogs body or ears, and not going near them as dogs are eating - we had to make sure the dogs knew that THEY were not allowed to approach the babies without human approval first. By teaching the dogs to give the babies their space when they were crawling on the floor we stopped what could have turned into a horrible situation for both the dogs and the babies.
First, we showed them the respect walk so the parents could take over leadership of the dogs in the correct way. Before, the older Lab thought he was the leader of the family or "pack" so the growling was him asserting his role and discipline the babies. We taught the lab that he could now retire as the leader and let the parents worry about their pack. Priority number one was teaching the dogs that the babies were the most important, precious things in the house. If the babies were crawling around on the floor, we showed the dogs that they should respect their authority and go to another area, instead of standing their ground and growling. We also had to teach both labs and the humans that the lab did not OWN the parents anymore. He was their baby before their real babies came so he was a little spoiled and used to claiming Dad especially. They needed to let the dog know that although he was was still very much loved, the babies were more important than him.
We showed the parents how to control the petting and make sure the dogs still felt part of the family in a respectful, calm way. This would stop the jealousy issues.
The dogs now understand that the babies are the most important people in the house and they can relax and wait for their leaders to make the decision on when to interact. Everyone understanding their roles in the pack is essential to harmony in the home. It was an honor to work with this family. We love helping families with new children adjust to their new lifestyle and ensure we don't see a beloved dog have to leave it's home simply because it didn't understand the changed expectations. The parents now have the freedom and knowledge to teach their dogs to be kind and loving towards the twins while them their space. Both dogs and humans can now all co-exist together without stress or worry - or without having to shut the dogs in separate rooms or the back yard to have peace of mind.