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Canine Behavior/New baby, dog acting strange


I have a 6 year old male Pit Bull and a 1 year old female Boston Terrier, Pepper. I just had a baby in October. Our pit bull from the beginning has accepted and loved the baby. Pepper has not adjusted well. Pepper is very close to me, follows me, listens to me, etc. She's never been aggressive with the baby, but never had much interest in her either. She really is just focused on me. My husband said when I was gone at the hospital and he was coming home without me, she would circle the car searching for me. The first two months I was home every day with the dogs and baby and every thing was fine. Then I went back to work two weeks ago and Pepper has been urinating in the house starting two weeks ago and doing it right in front of us. She also will follow me so closely throughout the house that I trip on her and when I stop to stand, she nudges herself in between my legs and sits. She has to constantly be touching me. (She was this way before, but not as bad) I took her to vet last weekend, she has no UTI or anything else. This is all mental in my opinion, but what's your professional opinion and what can I do to help her gain more security and confidence and stop peeing in the house?
Also, to add, she is exhibiting fearful behavior and seems to pee in fear too. My husband will say "come on pepper lets go outside" and she will refuse to go outside and then get scared and pee. She only does that with him. (she didn't do this pre baby) If he tries to pick her up when she refuses to go outside, she will pee too. (she did do this pre baby, but only on our bed) Pre baby and on, she has peed on the bed when we try to pick her up and move her. Not every time, but sometimes. It's like she gets scared or something? I don't understand b/c I have never ever disciplined her hard nor ever picked her up and thrown her. She runs to me when she's scared b/c she knows I'm always gentle with her and I'll always help her. So, why she pees when you go to grab her, I have no clue.
She doesn't like cold weather either and it's cold right now and it started getting really cold two weeks ago too, so does she just not like going outside and prefers to go inside?
I love her to death, I want to help her.

I don't really believe this has much to do with the baby.  I think it is the result of your "disappearance" during the time you were having your baby.  One caution:  I don't care how loving that Pit Bull seems: DO NOT LEAVE AN INFANT on the floor or easily accessible to any dog, at any time, for any reason.  This is not to say I am indicting the Pit Bull in any way or its related breeds, but I have seen far too many deaths of children due to Pit Bull (and other breeds) misinterpreting a Human infant/toddler/child.  Your Pit might be a wonderful dog and never do any harm to that child, and it doesn't appear that your Boston Terrier is any obvious threat to that child, BUT YOU CANNOT TAKE THE CHANCE.

Because you have two dogs, your household environment and both these dogs need the in person evaluation of a certified applied animal behaviorist - CAAB -(NOT a dog trainer!).  Your BT is exhibiting signs of extreme stress and separation anxiety and there is a protocol to counter condition this dog but it requires actively, psychologically "demoting" her.  Because of this, you must absolutely know the social hierarchy between the Pit and the BT, something I can't determine from here.

Why is the BT suddenly so fearful to go out (especially with your husband)?  Most likely, because he was stressed (had a wife and baby coming home), he may have (although not meaning to show it) experienced this stress while taking the BT out or letting her out (this is just a hunch).  This in NO WAY suggests he harmed her.  Your BT seems, by "nature", to be overly needy and fearful.  When she "runs" to you, as a loving woman, you attempt to soothe her fears, but that behavior is actually rewarding her fearful state.

It's a complex situation.  IT CAN BE FIXED.  Find a CAAB from the following sites or by contacting the veterinary college in your geographical area:

Short haired dogs can be notorious for not "wanting" to go out during cold or rainy weather.  We cannot pander to that.  Purchase a good, hooded coat for the BT; re-institute house training as if she were a ten week old puppy.  Purchase "diapers" for the BT:

These will make it impossible for her to "successfully" urinate indoors since the urine will be retained against her skin, odor and all, and will quickly extinguish this behavior.  SOME of the urination behavior you describe is due to submissive urination so that will not extinguish without behavior modification.  Your BT might require medication to help her along, providing the CAAB offers a clear behavior modification protocol that includes BOTH dogs.  

Both your dogs can make this adjustment but the BT especially needs attention and you absolutely require an EXPERT eye on both dogs, with an infant in the house.  DO NOT reward the BT if she "runs" to you; stand up, turn your back; keep turning your back until she seems less stressed, then ask for "sit", reward, be casual, go back to normal behavior.

If you need further information or some assessment of what your CAAB has suggested, use the followup feature so I can be reminded of original question/answer.

Keep BOTH DOGS out of the bedrooms, yours and especially the baby's.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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