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Every night or nap time, when we go to get our two year old son ready for bed, our dog will come and lay there. He also stays there for a couple of minutes after we leave the room and turn off the lights. He doesn't even get up to chase the cat if she comes by. Is this instinct and is he being protective or dominant?

We don't know the dog's exact age or breed. We picked him up from the shelter when he was a pup, approximately 8-12 weeks old and we've had him for about 14 months. He looks like an Am staff and is probably a mix with a black lab. He is great with our son when he's awake. I'm not really worried about the behavior, just curious about it.

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    Dog cares and wants to be part of the process. Let's get the baby safely to bed. – paparazzo Nov 11 '15 at 9:53
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According to the American Kennel Club, "The Am Staff is a people-oriented dog that thrives when he is made part of the family and given a job to do.[1] Although friendly, this breed is loyal to his own family."[2]

Regardless of the breed, if a dog is raised in a home full of love and treated with care it will reflect that behaviour to it's people.

Much of a dogs behaviour is instinctive - behaviour reinforced by generations of survival, albeit closely tied to human assistance.

A part of a dog's natural behaviour is to take an active role in the protection of the pack. In the case of a dog that is a part of a family of humans, the pack is the people in the human family.

A dog attempting to achieve dominance would most likely demonstrate a number of behaviours that would likely concern you over a period of time. Not all dominance-driven behaviours would be aggressive however, so it would be appropriate for you to continue to watch your dog closely. One of the most obvious that comes to mind is the dog not allowing other trusted family members to come near your two year old at nap or bed time.

There is a lot of written information about dog behaviour and in particular behaviour that is intended to achieve dominance.

Based on the information you have provided, the behaviour you suggest is unlikely to be an effort by the dog to achieve dominance.

Hope this helps.

References:

  1. "Get to Know the American Staffordshire Terrier", 'The American Kennel Club' website, retrieved 29 May 2014.

  2. "American Staffordshire Terrier Page", 'The American Kennel Club' website, retrieved 2013-06-16.lj

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It's a protective nature that the dog has. Our black lab used to do this when I was younger. She treated us as if we were her puppies, making sure we were okay and would check on us in the night. Our gold retriever also used to follow my brother and I on our bikes. Dogs are very protective of their owners and when raised with children they seem to take them on as their own family. You're very lucky to have a pet that bonds with your child.

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