Giving an out to dogs

Giving an out to dogs

In homes with toddlers or newly mobile babies it can really help if the dog is given a cue that means…”leave” or something to that effect.  I worked really hard with our siberian husky to learn this.  He would loook to me and I would tell him “take off” when I noticed he was not comfortable.  He liked permission to leave and we always supervised so that we could see what signals he was offering.  If I noticed licking lips or yawning then I would often tell him to “take off” in a kind and happy voice.  At first I would toss a treat and then gate him out of the area.  Now “take off” is a cue he knows and follows often.  Bailey enjoys older children and not the younger toddler variety.  Teaching him to look to me (when in doubt…check me out) allows him an escape option.  Bailey often leaves on his own but sometimes needs a reminder and actually appreciates when we “give him permission” to leave the toddler zone.  Here is another dog illustrating a take off.  Dogs and mobile babies are a challenging mix.  Having a fun cue to give your dog to leave when a toddler approaches is a great way to keep things safer.   It is never a good idea to allow a toddler or small child approach a resting dog or dog in general.  It is always better to have the dog come over to the child by choice and allow him to “opt out” if indicating discomfort of any type.

Toddler approaching dog's space (not good)
Here the dog can be told "take off" and gets a treat and is removed from toddler zone.

  In this photo the dog is hanging out in “their spot.”  A potential “grumble zone.”  The Toddler is doing what toddlers do.  There is a supervising adult to intervene and give a “take off” option and choice for the dog.  Without the adult paying attention this situation could be very uncomfortable for the dog.

Living with newly mobile babies and dogs is very challenging and tiring to say the least.  It is important to keep things fun and enjoyable for all.  A calm parent giving the dog direction is better than a parent who reacts once the baby has gotten too close.  Practice take offs when you don’t need them.  Dogs and people communicate differently and often toddlers are uncomfortable and awkward for dogs.  Be diligent and ACTIVELY SUPERVISE!

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