Having a new baby is an exciting time in your life!
Though you’re over the moon, your dogmight not share this excitement. This tiny baby seems like a human, but she’s screaming, smells different and is much smaller. Before they know it, this strange thing is taking up a lot of their owner’s time and attention.
To avoid a jealous dog, read our 7 tips below on how to introduce a dog and baby for the most successful long-term outcome.
1. Train Your Dog
Yes, your dog may be the best-trained dog in the whole world.
This does not mean they will be calm and collected around a newborn baby. A baby is a huge change to a household, and simply dropping the baby in the environment, and expecting your dog to beOKis unfair.
Teach your dog several new commands before the baby arrives. You should start as soon as you know you are pregnant. This gives plenty of time for your dog to learn the commands before your whole life changes.
Before the baby arrives, ensure your dog has all these items to keep them happy.
Teach Your Dog to ‘Go Away’
Simply throw a treat while you say, ‘go away’. The connection between the treat and the voice command will link with repetition. You are teaching your dog to ‘go away’ in a positive way, by rewarding them with a treat for doing so.
Never shout at your dog to ‘go away’ or use it as a form of punishment. This will leave long-lasting negative correlations to that command, which is not what you want to associate with your new baby.
Nursery Off Limits
Set up the nursery as soon as possible, and ensure you train your dog not to walk past the door or enter the room unless you invite them in. You can keep the nursery completely off-limits.
Ensure your dog has somewhere to lay down outside the nursery where you can see them. If you plan to spend long hours in there (which you will), then your dog will likely just want to be there with you and watch.
If you really struggle with this issue, consider dog or baby gates to separate the spaces.
2. Stick to Your Dog’s Routine
The most important thing to do is to stick to your dogs routine. If your dog is used to getting fed and going for a walk at the same times each day, then you either need to slowly change this now or stick to it when the baby arrives.
Think about how much time a baby will take in the mornings to get them organized before you can go for a walk. If your pooch is used to first thing in the morning walks, then now is the time to change their routine.
3. Scent Work
Let your dog smell and investigate baby clothes, toys, strollers, and high chairs. A lot of these items are initially scary, and your dog will need time to get used to the look and smell of them.
If you are having a birth away from home, get a family member to bring blankets home from the hospital. Ensure the baby has spent some time infusing their scent onto the blanket.
4. Control the Introduction
Whether it’s a blanket or the baby, control how your dog interacts with the new smells, sounds, and sights. Keep your dog on a leash and let them close enough to smell only.
If they react positively, give them praise and repeat this introduction several times a day over the initial weeks. If the reaction is negative, give your dog some time and try again. If the reaction is aggressive, you should seek the help of a behaviorist.
You do not want your dog to repeatedly act aggressively toward your baby. It will be easier to fix if you hire a behaviorist after the first signs of aggression, instead of leaving it to get worse.
5. Breed Doesn’t Matter
Just because you own a dog of a certain breed, you cannot predict their reaction to a baby based on this alone.
Pitbulls and Rottweilers have bitten kids, but so have Labs, Collies, and Terriers. All dogs, no matter what the breed, or how placid they seem, need to be trained before the baby arrives.
6. Train Your Baby
Once your baby is old enough to be moving around on their own, they also need to be trained. They should not hit, pull at, chase or do anything to antagonize the dog. Nor should they grab at their food or dog toys.
Of course, accidents happen. A dog that has been trained and correctly introduced to a baby likely won’t snap if their tail is pulled once or twice. But, it’s important to nip this in the bud before the dog becomes annoyed.
7. Child Safety Comes First
At the end of the day, your child’s safety comes first. Even the smallest dogs can kill a young child, and you don’t want to risk this happening.
If your dog shows anything but pure happiness and love toward your child, call a professional before it develops into something more serious.
Even the most well-meaning dogs may unintentionally knock a toddler over. Never leave your dog and child unsupervised. Even if it’s just for one minute, remove the dog from the room and close the door.
It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Start Training Your Dog and Baby Today
Most dogs will love the company of a child once they are trained and have been given time to get used to the new family member.
If you encounter any problems when you are training your dog or baby, then seek professional help. The quicker you recognize a problem between your dog and baby, the easier it will be to fix.
For more information on dog training, take a look at the other articles on our blog.