tl/dr: My dog seems spooked by my baby crawling around the house. The dog runs away anytime the baby gets even remotely close to him. We make sure that the baby never actually bother's the dog, but I feel bad everytime the dog "runs away" from the baby. Is there anything I can do to help the dog be less jumpy around the baby?
My dog is a rescue that we've had for about a year and a half. He's an elderly bulldog (~70 pounds or ~30 kg), and is a great family dog (he gets along wonderfully with our older kids, who range from 3-11).
Our baby is about 7 months old. He was perfectly fine with the baby when he was first born, and they first met when the baby was less than a day old. However, the baby has now started to crawl (enter dramatic music). This, I'm afraid, makes my dog very uncomfortable. In my dog's defense, the baby would probably cause some pain if allowed to - the baby's current MO when he crawls up to me is to grab a hold of whatever he can on me and try to pull himself up into a standing position. This can hurt if he gets hair/skin. My dog in particular has a large number of issues with joint pain and arthritis, so I'm sure he would not appreciate my baby manhandling him. This has never happened though - We've always been careful to make sure the baby doesn't harass him.
Unfortunately this doesn't stop my dog from fleeing the room if the baby comes within 10 feet of him. It makes me sad because sometimes my dog has a hard time getting up (due to joint issues), and I'd rather he not have to move around every time the baby comes near. Our house has a very open floor plan, so other than the bedrooms, it's pretty much just one big room and the baby can get from one corner to any other pretty quickly these days.
Lately the dog isn't even comfortable laying in "his" chair (more like a recliner than a chair) with the baby around, even though it is high enough that the baby can't even remotely reach. Recently this resulted in him hastily jumping off the side of the chair (nearly landing on one of my other kids and walking away with a pronounced limp) because the baby came up to the front of it.
The dog has a couple bedrooms he can hide in that the baby isn't allowed in, and he also spends a good chunk of the day outside. Also the baby only spends a small fraction of the day crawling around. As a result the dog is by no means being scared away all day long, but him "running away" from the baby happens at least a few times a day. The baby is not actually very interested in the dog, and so 95% of the time when the dog runs away, the baby is doing something completely unrelated and had no intention of bothering the dog.
- The dog doesn't seem to be actually scared of the baby (based on my own hopefully correct understanding of his body language), but he clearly doesn't want to be near the baby.
- I'm not worried about the dog hurting the baby. He has never shown any signs of aggression towards him. We don't let the baby crawl around the house unsupervised, so we always have a close eye on the situation.
Is there anything I can do to help my dog be less jumpy around the baby? Again, we've never let the baby actually get a hold of the dog, so he has no specific reason to be afraid of the baby. I wish I could tell my dog that he has nothing to worry about (both because the baby isn't actually very interested in him, and because we wouldn't let the baby hurt him).