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We adopted our 9 month old (almost 50 lb) lab-mix rescue a little more than 2 weeks ago. He's got a few rambunctious puppy habits, but so far has been wonderful with our toddler and has obviously lived in a home before.

A few days ago, we took him to a vet to get his physical and boosters. While there the dr. explained that I should keep the dog and my toddler physically separated at all times until we know our dog better. She basically said that at any moment he could lash out and bite the little one for being "abused" by him... During this talk the dog was licking my toddler's face and my toddler was laughing and saying "Kisses! Kisses!" The dr. was visibly nervous, and continued to tell me that if the dog bites him, it's my fault since we don't really know our dog yet (and that will take at least another 2 weeks).

On the one hand, I get what she's saying... on the other hand, she doesn't know our dog either!!! But the thought of him all of a sudden becoming ferocious and attacking is making me a ball of nerves around him at home, which is NOT conducive to training and being the calm, assertive pack leader he needs. UGH. I need to change my state of mind, but I'm a bit at a loss as to how. HELP PLEASE!
 

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be realistic it's an animal. i can tell you right now that my two 2000 lb Clydesdale's would break a leg, break their own neck to avoid hurting me in a sudden accident situation.. if they could, but they big animals and stuff happens and i could at any time end up like the neighbor that got squished into the wall of her barn by her own horse and was killed instantly. Anyone that owns a horse knows it's a walking death trap but we own them love. Same with the dogs, stuff happens, dog panics , dog reacts the only way it knows how.. Doesn't mean it is or was a violent animal. it happens. you could walk out your door and something (Goodness forbid) happen to you..

you should be aware, set boundaries and teach skills, and supervise. my little sister was mauled by the neighbors GSD.. it was an accident.. the kids let the dog out of his kennel and excited to be with the kids he knocked my 5 year old sister down and she began to cry and scream.. The dog panicked and started pawing at her and biting at her to calm her (because that is a way dogs handle it) and when it made it worse with screaming the dog became more frantic. Not a mean dog at all. My parents didn't want the dog put down because it wasn't a viscous animal it was a tragic accident and an animal is just that an animal that panic'd..

Your going to have to find your balance and be realistic working with your child setting rules of interaction as well as (help your dog) with learning too things like learning calm presence around the baby, not nudging pushing or nibbling .. not taking food and not looking for food around the baby. learning those types of things you can do
 

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I doubt the dog will "suddenly lash out." Dogs generally give plenty of warning before they lash out. I suggest studying dog body language.

Granted, the vet is correct that you should at least be supervising the dog and child together at all times, no matter how well you know the dog. Toddlers have a tendency to grab and pull and cause harm, even if they don't mean to. It's important to teach your chid how to properly interact with the dog, such as leaving the dog's food alone, leaving the dog's toys alone, how to pet nicely. I like it best when dog and child generally ignore each other, yet coexist peacefully, especially at that age. As your child grows older, he can be included in more activities with the dog.

Really, I do think the vet was overreacting a bit, but you should manage the situation because a young rambunctious puppy and a toddler with poor motor skills can accidentally harm each other.
 

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My dog Tara who was the most gentle loving wonderful dog I've ever met, and was half border collie and half shepperd, in her senior years, once bit me. Hard. This was after I'd had her for almost 12 years. She had never bitten anybody, ever, and was gentle when she played with people and other dogs.

I took her for a walk and she sat down to rest for a bit. I said lets go and started walking. She went to get up but didnt move. I crouched down and got up next to her to see what was wrong. At that point it seemed like she got a severe pain in one of her legs because she yelped strongly and bit my hand which was in front of her face. Hard. went between my hand bones and penetrated almost 1cm. Blood everywhere. I still have puncture scars. I had to go to the hospital. What I'm trying to say is that anything can happen. Tara weighed about 65 pounds and was a very strong dog. She felt terrible for biting me for days, but it happened. Anything can happen.
 

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We adopted our 9 month old (almost 50 lb) lab-mix rescue a little more than 2 weeks ago. He's got a few rambunctious puppy habits, but so far has been wonderful with our toddler and has obviously lived in a home before.

A few days ago, we took him to a vet to get his physical and boosters. While there the dr. explained that I should keep the dog and my toddler physically separated at all times until we know our dog better. She basically said that at any moment he could lash out and bite the little one for being "abused" by him... During this talk the dog was licking my toddler's face and my toddler was laughing and saying "Kisses! Kisses!" The dr. was visibly nervous, and continued to tell me that if the dog bites him, it's my fault since we don't really know our dog yet (and that will take at least another 2 weeks).

On the one hand, I get what she's saying... on the other hand, she doesn't know our dog either!!! But the thought of him all of a sudden becoming ferocious and attacking is making me a ball of nerves around him at home, which is NOT conducive to training and being the calm, assertive pack leader he needs. UGH. I need to change my state of mind, but I'm a bit at a loss as to how. HELP PLEASE!
First, I HIGHLY encourage you to drop the notion of "assertive pack leader"; do a few searches on here for Cesar Milan and pack leader and you will understand why I say this.

Second,

I can't say that I disagree with your vet but I think it warrants more detail as to why that advice. I do not think there is reason to be scared of your dog, there is instead reason to be sensible about dog-kid interactions.

Toddlers are high risk for dog bites because they tick several boxes of "scary" and "unnerving" for many dogs. High pitched voices, clumsy movements (dogs can read our body language better than we can read theirs but toddlers don't follow the rules of "human" body language), not sure of their own strength to have a tendency to pinch or pull too hard and are too young to be taught to read the dog's body language. The fact that their faces are at dog face level adds to the risk compared to an adult who has to intentionally get their face into a dog's face.

2 weeks is a very short time to know a dog. 4 weeks is a short time. 4-6 months is more realistic. At this point, you don't know if the dog has a sensitive area that he hates having touched for example and might swing his head around and even make accidental contact. You don't know if he will guard a toy that the child might snatch from him. It is not about the dog suddenly becoming ferocious and attacking, it is about setting the dog up for success and safety (and the kid for safety too) by preventing the dog from being put into a situation where he might react with an air snap that gets misplaced or becomes stressed by being backed into a corner etc.

Overall, I discourage face licking and definitely discourage face licking of a small child. Always supervise within arms reach and eyes on the dog and kid. IMO, I think around 1.5 years to around 4-5 years are the more difficult times to supervise dog and child interaction because the kid is old enough to be quite mobile but too young to understand impulse control. Encourage play that is interactive but not physical like tossing a fetch toy or going on a walk together (you can use a leash with a traffic loop handle so that you are holding the actual leash and your kid gets to "walk" the dog by holding the traffic loop handle). Teach how to pet a dog gently, no tugging on ears or tail, not reaching for the face etc.
 

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I somewhat agree with your vet. Somewhat as in, I don't think your dog will 'suddenly lash out' like a ticking time bomb. You don't necessarily need to keep both parties totally separated, and I might not have used the word "abused." But I would agree with the recommendation of supervising dog and kid times, and teaching your kid not to stick his face in the dog's face. I work in a shelter, and dogs are surrendered or returned at times for biting kids because the kid did something disrespectful to the dog. Very 'normal' things like picking up, grabbing, kissing, hugging, etc. I work at a pretty progressive shelter and we only restrict under severe circumstances, like if a dog has a bite history. We favor counseling over restrictions. All this is to say, I am not 'anti kid' in the slightest!

I do think it is valuable for many reasons to teach dogs respectful pet interaction though. If not for your dog, then for the dozens of dogs your kid will come across in his lifetime. And it isn't to say you can't teach your dog to enjoy face-face interactions and such. But also, at 9 months old your dog's personality is likely to undergo some changes as he matures. And at the 2 week mark, you are likely not seeing your 'true' dog yet.

So yes, it is not a bad idea to play it safe, supervise interactions, and make sure everyone is being safe.
 

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While I (sort of) agree with your vet, she also sounds like an idiot.
It's just common sense you that supervise children and dog interaction. Things happen. And if you're supervising, those things are much less likely to happen.
A friend, who is a dog trainer left her 4 year old in the house while she went outside to get a package off the steps. She came back and one of her dogs had bit her daughter (not a serious bite) She was gone maybe 2 minutes, but the child stepped on the dog and his reaction was to bite.

I'd say to teach your child to respect animals and learn to recognize their reactions and teach the dog to accept pretty much everything (little hands in the food bowl, taking toys, tugging ears, etc) Understand that a growl is NOT a bad thing. It's the dog saying "please stop" or "you're scaring me" or something along those lines, learn to listen to the growl.

If the kid going to get bit, most likely. You have a puppy, it's what they do. Chances are, your kid is also going to fall off a bicycle or swing too. Probably bang up a couple knees, and maybe even break a bone or two...and that's okay. It's part of growing up.

If you provide proper training and exercise for your dog and supervise them, chances are very high that nothing bad will happen.
 

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Agree with Shell. Be cautious! You are just now hitting real life with the dog now. In the honeymoon stage many dogs are perfect because they don't know what will happen if they bark or chew or steal food or jump on the sofa and so on. Don't be afraid of the dog, learn how dogs aren't animated toys but living thinking feeling creatures completely different from humans. Dogs don't like hugs for instance, they learn to tolerate them because we like to hug.

The vet sees dogs at their worst. It is possible he saw some warning signs that dog was a bit stressed out. I don't think doggy kisses at the vet is a particularly good idea, just in case. Teach your son and dog some cute tricks like touch my hand and sit instead to do when waiting.

Suggest looking through thefamilydog.com's videos and info on dog body language and such. I hope the dog has a safe place where your little one isn't allowed to interact with the dog. Use the remainder of the honeymoon to really watch him to work to understand when he is feeling a bit overwhelmed and needs space and be sure to give the two of them time outs away from each other. Seems like your son is very good with the dog and doesn't need help petting nicely. If he tends to grab then have him pet dog with the back of his hand.

My son got a really nice half grown dog last year and has now 5 year old twins. It's worked out nicely. The biggest issue has been toy destruction and being scared by doggy zooms. The twins are old enough to understand that it's their fault if a toy gets chewed up but your son likely will need a lot of help with this. Dog has her own crate and twins aren't allowed to go in with her. Snuggles all together on the bed weren't a good idea at first. I sent them a few of the familydog videos and the twins got it. They know to freeze and wrap hands around body when dog is bouncy and to leave her alone when she walks away.
 
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