How to Stop a Dog From Being Possessive Over a Baby

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 23, 2017

Monty is a two-year-old Shih Tzu / Coton Mix who lives in Omaha. Monty’s guardians set up this dog behavior training session to get him to stop nipping at some people when leaving the house and train him to stop protecting the toddler from family members and other people, especially when he has food.

Monte was pretty excited when I arrived for the session. I asked one of the guardians to make sure he was free before I knocked on the door as I wanted to see if he displayed any territorial behavior. Turns out the family has a baby gate to keep him from getting to the door and the other guardian didn’t get the message so I waited for him to let open the baby gate before heading inside.

While Monte was clearly excited, I only detected minimal territorial behavior, communication and posture from him which was a good sign.

Many people find it cute or endearing when a dog is protective of a baby. But if a dog thinks protecting the baby is its job, than another job is also expected from it, training and correcting the baby. This can lead to nips in some situations if the dog thinks the baby is doing something wrong.

Monte was displaying this protective or possessive behavior in multiple situations, most most commonly when food was present. He would often move in between the toddler and other family members when the toddler had some goldfish or other food item. He even had the audacity to block Grandma from approaching while eating, and that simply won’t do.

After suggesting some rules and showing the guardians how to add structure to Monte’s daily life, we were ready to put what they learned into a practical application. I had the mother give the toddler a snack in his high chair so we could practice training the dog to keep a 10 foot distance away from the child while he ate.

Now many parents like having the dog clean up any food spilled on the floor by the child. This is fine as long as its after the child finishes, is out of the chair and is invited to do so. The rest of the time, it will be important for Monte to keep a distance of at least 10 feet from the child while in the chair or eating.

As a dog behavior expert, I find many people fail to train their dog how to act in various situations. I always recommend practicing the activity in a controlled situation; breaking it into small individual steps. This way we are not distracted by other things, giving us the ability to teach the dog the behavior we want from them during that activity.

Constantly rewarding desired actions like sitting or laying down (Petting with a purpose) will do wonders for the leader follower dynamic and help make sure the dog respects his humans.

We wrapped up the session by going over Monte’s Roadmap to success. You can watch it by clicking on the video below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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