Dog and Babies

baby and dog

baby and dogDear Mr. Dad: I’m pregnant with our first child and I’m due in about four moinths. One of the things I’m worried about is our dog, a 150-pound male mastiff, who is truly a part of our family and not just a pet. Some friends of ours say that it’s dangerous to have a giant dog around a newborn and that we should start looking for a new home for him. Is it? And is there some way to prepare our dog and keep our baby safe?

A: There’s no way to predict with 100 percent accuracy how animals are going to react in any given situation, but you can get some hints by asking yourself these questions: What is the dog’s personality? Is he aggressive or territorial? Does he growl or bite? Does he jump on you, the furniture, or guests? Has he spent time with children? Does he like children? How protective is he of his toys? Could he possibly confuse a neatly wrapped up baby with a chewable toy? Does he bark when he wants attention? Does he understand and obey basic commands? I’m sure you can figure out which questions need a Yes answer and which need a No.

But no matter how wonderful your dog is, there’s always some risk. According to Michael Wombacher, author of “Good Dog, Happy Baby,” of the 4.7 million people who get bitten by dogs in the U.S. every year, 80 percent are children under five. Eighty percent of those bites are to the face and happen during feeding, petting, or playing. Most of those dogs live in the victim’s home and have no history of biting.

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Biting and Hitting the Hand that Feeds

biting teeth
biting teeth

Photo credit: gigabiting.com

Dear Mr. Dad: Our son just turned one and, almost like flipping a switch, he went from the sweetest, happiest little guy to smacking and biting. It’s bad enough when it happens at home, but my husband and I are beyond embarrassed when he attacks friends or strangers. Is it normal for babies to turn mean like this? Normal or not, how can we get it to stop?

A: No one knows exactly why, but right around their first birthday, most babies go through a stage that involves hitting and/or biting everything and everyone in sight. So, yes, biting and hitting are normal, and it’s unlikely that he’s “turning mean.” However, as you said, whether it’s normal or not, this behavior needs to stop. Before you can do anything about the behavior, though, you need to figure out what’s behind it.

According to child development experts, there are lots of possible explanations. Your baby may be hitting or biting because: [Read more…]

Got Bugs? We’ve Got Solutions at the #BackyardBiteback Twitter Party

mrdad - Dynatrap-Twitter-Party_BackyardBiteBack

mrdad - Dynatrap-Twitter-Party_BackyardBiteBack

I love summer, the sports, the time outside, the opportunity fo leave the windows open all day long, and those warm evenings that seem to go on for hours and hours. But I’m not alone. Billions of bugs take advantage of those same things–especialy those open windows–to feast on the blood of the unsuspecting–and unprotected–humans who live in my house.

In most places, window screens do a great job of keeping bugs and thier victims separated. But, as (bad) luck would have it, the people who built my condo complex didn’t install screens. And since the windows are all custom sizes, it would cost about $1500 to have them made. That seemed like overkill (although when it comes to mosquitos, there’s no such thing as overkill).

So to solve this annoying problem, I’m partnering with @BabyCostcutters and @Dynatrap, makers of pesticide-free and environmentally friendly insect traps. On June 14, we are having a fun “Backyard Battle” Twitter party between @BabyCostcutters and @MrDad to see who rules the backyard and to encourage bug-free time spent outdoors. We will discuss what makes a great backyard bash and and how to prevent bugs from crashing the party–even if you happen to be inside.

RSVP to the Twitter Party here.

Biting the hand—and everything else

Dear Mr. Dad: My toddler (17 months old) has been biting his three-year-old sister at home for the past week or so. Now I’ve learned from his daycare provider that he’s biting other children there as well. She’s not happy about that, of course, and I’m worried they’ll kick him out. I’ve tried lecturing him and giving him timeouts, but nothing works. What can I do to help him stop this behavior?

A: First of all, it’s important to understand that biting is a pretty normal behavior for a toddler. Children often bite when they’re tired, teething, jealous, or just plain frustrated. And sometimes they’re conducting little science experiments, wondering what would happen if they bit something—or someone—new. It’s an odd (to us anyway) but pretty effective way of exploring and testing out the world around them.
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