Bringing home a new bundle of joy is a wonderful, yet potentially stressful time in the life of a family. Pets also can become stressed along with everyone else. However, if you prepare and train them properly, your dog can live together in harmony with your newborn baby.
It is never too soon to start preparing your pets for the arrival of your baby. Training should start months before it is time for your baby to arrive. There are a few different things that should be addressed before the big day comes.
Monitor the Dog’s Behavior
You may know this already, but you need to take an honest assessment of your dog, in regards to if they have aggression or fear issues. Pay special attention to how your dog acts when you approach his food bowl, toys and resting location. Take note of any sensitivity that your dog shows when he is approached by children. How does your dog act when his tail is pulled or has is feet, mouth or ears touched? If you have a reason to be concerned, speak with your veterinarian or a certified dog trainer to resolve any potential risks.
Teaching Proper Manners
If your dog has a habit of jumping up, this is something that needs to be resolved. A jumping dog can become hazardous to someone who is holding a baby, as the baby can be knocked out of the person’s hands. To prevent problems like this, train your dog to sit when greeting someone and to get up on the furniture or your lap only if you invite him. You should also work with your dog on loose-leash walking, so that when it is time to use a stroller he is not pulling you. Work with your dog on the “leave it” and “drop it” commands, so that if he gets ahold of your baby’s toys, you can get him to leave them be or let them go.
While baby-proofing has its own set of demands, don’t forget about taking precautions with your dog as well. For example, if your dog normally sleeps on your bed, you may need to make other arrangements. Should you have a bassinet next to your bed, the dog could decide to jump into it. For the times when you are not able to supervise your dog, you could consider crate training him. Be sure to move the dog’s food and water bowls out of areas where you know the baby is going to be. A diaper pail with a secure lid will prevent any potentially yucky messes.
If you give extra attention to your pets before your baby comes, your dog will want it to continue. You should actually do the opposite. The idea is to prepare your dog to be independent, so that he has time to get used to a decrease in attention before the baby comes home. It will help if you buy some food puzzles and chew toys to keep him occupied. Go ahead and make plans on how your dog will get the exercise he needs after the baby comes.
Introduce Them Carefully
Your dog and the new baby should meet on neutral territory. For example, you could have your dog come outside for a quick visit before bringing the baby inside. When they meet, keep the dog under control by giving them commands like “sit” and “down,” not forgetting to give them a reward.
Never Leave the Two Unsupervised
More often than not, children get bitten by dogs when an adult has left the two alone. Carefully monitor the way your dog is interacting with your baby. When close supervision is not possible, use baby gates or a dog crate to keep your dog separated from your child.