Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ask A Dog Trainer: Sleeping Like A Baby

We have an interesting question from Facebook today:

Ok, I have been noticing some odd behavior from my dog and thought you might have some advice. I have a 3 year old black lab. My wife and I also have a 10 month old son. Toby* (our dog) has not been a very big fan of our son. He seems somewhat nervous around him and we have been working on that but never leave them alone. The odd behavior is recently Toby has been going into our baby's room whenever I leave for work. It seems he goes there when he is nervous or anxious or when we leave. We are pretty sure he sleeps there till we get back. He never acted this way in the past. It is winter so he does get less exercise than in the summer but its not a large change from the norm. Could this have something to do with the baby or has he just decided this is his safe zone? Thanks for any advice.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent 

Alright, so my first question here is, does having your dog sleep in your baby's room hurt anything?  If not, then I wouldn't worry so much about it.  That said, you may just be wondering why he's doing it and want to make sure he's OK.  Well, there are a variety of reasons he may be sleeping in the baby's room.

My first thought on this is smell.  Chances are you're spending a lot of time with your baby.  You're probably even spending a lot of time in the baby's room.  This means the room smells strongly of you and this probably comforts Toby.  If anything, the room definitely smells a lot like the little creature you're spending a lot of time with.  This could be Toby's way of connecting more with you and the baby.

After that, he could just be comfortable in the room.  Maybe he just realized how soft the carpet is, or how warm the floor is.  Maybe he likes the way the sunlight comes in through the window.  It could just be that he's comfortable.

Lastly, it could have a little bit to do with the anxiety.  Can I tell you a secret?  Babies make me extremely anxious too.  Sure, they're cute and sometimes fun to be around, but they have so many needs, and they break so easily.  What if I hurt the baby?  What if something else hurts the baby?  What if the baby needs something?  They require constant supervision and care.  That may be what's making Toby anxious (well, that and the weird noises).  He may be going to the baby's room as an instinct to protect something so fragile.  Of course, that's giving him a lot of credit, but I've seen weirder things.

In the mean time, as long as Toby isn't hurting anything in the baby's room, I would let him continue to sleep there.  I would also encourage y'all to include Toby in more family activities as well as spend some time doing some Toby-based activities.  Go for walks as a family and bring Toby, but also spend some time playing fetch or walking / jogging just with Toby.  Spend time on the floor with the baby and allow Toby to sniff and interact (if he can be calm enough).  If he's OK with it, use Toby to teach your 10 month old the proper way to pet and greet a dog.  Teach your 10 month old how to give Toby treats.  Let Toby know that the family has grown, but he's still and important part of it.  This may help his anxiety issues a bit.

I hope this helps.  If you have any other questions regarding your pet, feel free to ask away on our Facebook page.  Thanks!

1 comment:

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