I'm not sure what to do and I'm not sure I did the correct thing.* A neighbor of mine has a 9 month old baby.* Gunny is afraid of babies, I've never had the opportunity to expose him much.* He loves kids but I don't believe he's been around any children under 1.* When she brings the baby over Gunny barks.* *His body language is confusing he will wag his tail, his head is low and even lick the baby if I let him get close enough.* But the other day he barked then growled, more like a right before they bark growl..but it sounded like a growl to me none the less (he also still wasn't feeling well but that behaviour is unacceptable to me).* I had him leashed because I know he's apprehensive, I quickly popped the leash and said "NO bark".* * How can I fix this?? Gunny was 9 months old yesterday and he hasn't been neutered yet I'm waiting until he is 1 yr old.
Deneen, is the baby crawling? Theo LOVES all kids, but when kids crawl around him he used to get very confused and would bark and play-bow. He was obviously nervous and suspicious, but wanted to appease them, too (hence the play-bowing). I would put him in a down-stay and feed him while the babies could crawl at some distance from him. It may just be a matter of more exposure.
I am going to offer some of my own observations with my Buck. He works with me full time at home with a daycare with 5 kids. Age ranges from as young as 6 mons to 5 years.
When ever we introduce a new baby, he is soooo excited. I think he sees it as a new smell to sniff and just can't wait to smell it. Even when we are out walking, if he see's a stroller, he knows that that thing inside smells sooo good and he really wants to check it out.
I'd suggest letting your boy sniff out the parents of this baby, and maybe an article of the childs clothes, being that he is a puppy, i'm sure the parents would worry if he got too excited around the baby, so for now leave the baby out of it. He probably already recognizes the smells and sounds of this child if they live next door and he just can't stand not meeting it. If you are confident that he is fine with children then just take it slow and I'm sure they will be really good friends. Oh and use a Happy voice when you talk to him about the baby.
That body language sounds pretty straight forward to me. He's afraid of this new object.His body language is confusing he will wag his tail, his head is low and even lick the baby if I let him get close enough. But the other day he barked then growled, more like a right before they bark growl..
Dogs do not associate infants with being human. They look different, smell different, sound different. They actually seem more like prey to dogs.
Just because he likes "kids" does not necessarily mean he will automatically like or even tolerate infants. Exposing him to infants is good but you must be ever vigiliant.
At 9 months old, he is entering the teenage period which includes another critical fear period. It's extremely important that he has lots of positive interaction with all sorts of places, things, animals, people of all ages and races including children, during this time. This is when he will develop his final outlook of the world. Are people with hats good or bad? What about short people (ie kids)? What about tall people? What about people by cars? What about people by food? What about large dogs (ie horses) by fences? What about people that don't move (ie statues)?
The key is the experience must be positive. Praise him when he wants to investigate. The more exposure he gets to new things, the more his confidence will grow. Then even if he encounters something new/odd (like an infant), he will be confident enough to investigate rather than react with a growl/bark.
I'd be careful. Getting him used to baby and his smells is a good suggestion using baby's clothes and toys is a good suggestion. Since Gunny is only 9 mos old, he's likely going through a phase. I wouldn't take any chances. Since this is a neighbor, I don't see why Gunny HAS to learn to like the baby and I wouldn't want to put the baby at risk. Gunny is a puppy and he could hurt the baby simply because he doesn't know any better or is afraid or wants to play, not because he wants to hurt the baby. If he does, whew, you don't want to go there, believe me.