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From: ellie (
Subject:         there is a lot that can be done here, before getting drastic
Date: April 23, 2008 at 10:10 am PST

In Reply to: My Dog and Child posted by Al on April 23, 2008 at 5:22 am:

what you saw is every parent's fear, and of course you're envisioning the "what-could've-happened". No question, you have to be on top of what goes on between child and dog. But don't assume you're going to have to rehome the dog. That's worst-case scenario, and you don't have to go there yet.

There is a lot we'd need to know to help you better. I'm going to ask a bunch of questions:

You say border collie mix - any idea what else is in the mix?

herding dogs, in general, are unbelievably intelligent and they feel that they are In Charge. It is not uncommon for herders to take charge of those noisy, unruly, poorly-mannered(in dog terms) human puppies - and the human puppies can get hurt if the human adults aren't supervising. One thing that comes to mind - "he didn't leave a mark on her arm" - if he'd been trying to hurt her, he could have. Odds are he was acting as an adult dog would who was teaching the puppy manners. You STILL need to really be careful here. a nipping herder can HURT a small child. But it's a very different issue from real aggression.

What kind of training has your dog had?
You have to be the alpha dog here, the one in charge of all dogs AND human puppies. I recommend NILIF - Nothing In Life Is Free - and by all means take your dog back to class, whether he's already had it or not. That a) gives him some special bonding time with you and b) reminds him you are in charge, he doesn't need to be.

You need to work with a trainer who is familiar with dog/child issues. How did the dog react when your daughter was born? started walking? did you get any hint of jealousy there? or is he more protective? either way, he likely does not see this little soft thing as alpha over him - but he needs to. That is what the trainer can help you with.

Your little girl is in that curious, impulsive, gotta-touch-and-grab stage of children's development. She makes high-pitched noises. She's just the right height to approach the dog, hands outstretched at eye level, looking right in the dog's eyes, all of which adds up to threatening or frieghtening behavior to a dog. It is time to work on teaching her how to approach the dog, when to leave the dog alone, to not touch the dog if he is eating or sleeping. She's too young to remember it all and do it consistently, so you're going to have to supervise her. But start working on it with her, and for now, she and the dog should not be alone together till she is older and more verbal and the dog has gotten a good refresher on the fact that you, and yours, and all humans, are alpha over him.
Others here will have much more to say, and my lunch hour is about over. BUt keep comin' back!
my border mix, Max, is great with my tiny neices. but I'll never forget the morning he ran frantic circles around the six of them, trying to keep them herded together in the yard! I was just about to call him to chill out, when I heard what he'd heard minutes before - the oncoming fire truck speeding down the street, just feet from the edge of the yard.
with the right kind of work, you dog may be your child's best guardian. But it will take effort and training and vigilance on your part.

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