How will your dog and baby get along? With some planning, you can train your dog to get along with your child and can raise your child to respect and love your dog as much as you do.
By preparing your dog for your baby’s arrival well in advance of the baby’s due date, you can minimize any conflicts or problems.
If your dog currently has access to all rooms in the house, get him used to not entering the room that will be the nursery. Keep that door closed so your dog does not consider it part of his regular territory.
Then, get the dog used to you being in that room without him. Keep the nursery door closed while you’re assembling baby furniture or decorating the room to teach your dog that even though there’s activity, he is not a part of it. Make sure, though, to pay a little extra attention to your dog once you leave the nursery and return to his territory.
Has your dog been to obedience school? If not, now is a great time for you both to go. Not only does it let you spend some quality time together before the baby comes, it gives you the tools necessary to control your dog’s behavior. It will also help your dog get used to being in a room full of activity, other dogs, and (maybe) children. This aspect of obedience school is especially important if your pre-baby household has been a relatively quiet one.
Another way to get your dog used to baby noises is to buy some tapes of babies crying. Start playing the tapes at a very low volume until the dog seems not to notice the sound anymore. Then, gradually increase the volume over several weeks until it reaches a realistic level. When your baby cries at home, your dog will be less startled.
Introducing Dog and Baby
When your baby arrives at home, keep the dog away from the infant for the first few days. Get your dog used to the baby’s smell by putting one of the baby’s blankets in the dog’s resting or sleeping area.
When you introduce your dog and baby to each other, keep the dog on a short leash and reward him during the introductions to reinforce the idea that the baby is a positive thing. Also, pay attention to your dog while he and the baby are in the same room to help your dog avoid seeing the baby as a threat or something that is taking you away. No matter how well trained your dog is, though, never leave the baby alone with him.
Take extra care as your child begins to crawl. Depending on the breed, your dog may be terrified of this little crawling creature or he may view your child as prey. Neither of these scenarios is permanent, though. Your dog just has to get used to your baby moving around rather than being carried around. Keep your dog next to you while the baby is crawling or walking and reward the dog for being still. Your dog will most likely get used to your child’s new movements quickly.
For more information, see Your Dog and Baby: A Practical Guide
Teaching Your Child How to Interact with the Family Dog
As your child grows, teach him or her how to properly deal with and treat a dog. Teach your child from early on to “play nice” with the dog, including not to pull the dog’s fur, hit the dog, or startle the dog on purpose. Dogs are animals and their first instincts, when faced with a threat, may lead them to bite or growl.
Also teach your child not to chase a dog that is running away or to bother a dog when it’s sleeping or eating. Teaching your child that a dog is a living creature, not a toy, will go a long way toward preventing some avoidable acts of aggression.
Do you have any additional tips about how to successfully introduce a dog and baby ?, if you do, please share them.