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  • Con Slobodchikoff, Ph.D.
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February 21, 2010


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Cathy Hughes

Answer to L. Kinder re her marking dog.

Your dog marking around the toddler may be a sign that he is not that confident around the child. This may have magnified when the child started moving around on his own.

The first thing I would do is strengthen the dog's confidence around the baby when he is on the floor. Click and treat, teaching behaviors that conflict with marking behaviors whenever the child is on the floor. Try to discontinue any corrections that may have been made in the past. The baby should always mean an opportunity to earn rewards has arrived.

When you are not actively watching the dog and the child, the dog should either be attached to you with a lead or secured in an area where he is likely not to mark.

Reinforce previously trained housetraining behaviors. Go out with him and reward for voiding in the yard. Supervise or confine him in the house.

If these things don't work, get the help of a trainer experienced with working with dogs and small children, and who uses positive methods. Good luck and have fun!

L KInder

Our dog is a golden retriever mutt about 12 years old.... we have a 9 1/2 month old boy whom the dog really didn't pay much attention to and actually made a point to stay away from. Now that our baby is crawling, our dog ( a male who has had marking problems before especially when we moved to a new house but broke easily with no access to the dining rm where he was marking) is now suddenly marking on all the carpet areas where our baby is crawling. We can't obviously block off the living rm where we mostly do our living and we don't want to hinder our baby's exploration.....someone please help... Should we call the dog whisperer??LOL... My husband raised this dog and loves him more than life even though he didn't train him in any way.... please help!!!

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you should definitely train your pets otehrwise they may turn jealous of your baby.

Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D., CAAB

We've taught Preparing Your Dog For Your Baby Classes at several area in the Denver area for almost 10 years. We've used that experience to create a "Helping Fido Welcome Your Baby" DVD for expectant parents as well as a teaching package for pet professional interested in starting these classes in their own communities. While we agree with Mike on some points, we disagree sharply on others. First, we think most couples just won't successfully teach their dog to stay out of the babies room. Rather than taking on this difficult task, we recommend people allow their dogs to satisfy their curiousity about all the "baby things" - under supervision. Not only does this tend to prevent urine-marking from males but once these things become familiar the dogs tend to lose interest. While it's always nice to have a dog who "does what he's told", obedience does little to help a dog overcome its fear of a toddler which is the source of most problems.
And to be honest we are really really tired of the outdated and inaccurate human family as a "pack" model.
The thing we do agree on is that preparation is crucial - couples have almost 9 months to prepare for the arrival of their child, and they should spend part of that time preparing their dog as well.

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