Even though the presence of a new baby in the home is nothing but cheers and smiles from moms and dads, this can all be unexpected and even confusing for your dog. Considering that the dog had known something was up for a few months and then suddenly this strange new creature is in the home that looks vaguely human but smells nothing like his owners. Furthermore, this little human is getting all the attention and time.
Dogs are smart and eager to learn from their masters, but they also understand a potential threat moving in on their comfortable family unit and can act according to baser instincts. Nevertheless, the solution lies in the way the new baby will be introduced to the dog. For more information you can buy a dog training book, check out Dog Product Picker. In the following article we will take a look at how to establish a healthy bond between your new baby and their four-legged sibling, who was there first.
Prepare the Dog
If you haven’t already, an obedience class for your dog will help to refine their behaviour and allow a bit more control. This will make sure the dog responds to your leads and direction and is not prone to rowdy potentially dangerous behaviour. Even if you have already done this, a refresher course may be in order.
The baby in the house is going to change everything and for the dog’s sanity don’t make all the changes at once abruptly. For best results, make all these changes before the baby is even brought home. You don’t want the baby associated with any big changes in the dog’s sleeping, walking, eating, playing or other. You may even want to enact some of the foreseeable changes beforehand, such as walking your baby pushing the stroller changing feeding and signing to a doll representing the coming addition.
– Reduce Play time
One of the biggest changes will be in the amount of playtime your baby is going to get. The last thing you want to do is begin showing lavish affection to your dog right before you take it all away with the arrival of your baby, bad associations and all.
– Baby Sounds
To a dog, baby sounds and smells very strange, so you will want to make them less so by playing baby sounds in your house at key moments. Increase the lengths of time as the due date arrives. Get them used the many smells of baby by showing them lotions, powders and creams you baby will use. Once the baby is born, take an item of clothing for your dog to sniff out, this will be the important introduction to the new smells your dog will soon encounter.
– Go to Spot
Before the baby comes home, you will want your dog to have their “go to place” well defined. Use a mat or dog bed for best results, because this can be moved around. Train the dog to come and lie on their mat and give them a small treat when they do. After a while they will got their on command.
You will also want to teach them a release command so they know they can disembark from their “go to place”. Little by little increase the amount of time you ask your dog to stay in their spot. Make sure you follow up their good behaviour with a reward, perhaps a new chew toy.
When the baby comes home, be sure to take time to greet the dog without the baby to avoid them getting very excited. Allow the dog to get used to the smells, sounds and sights of the baby for a day or two before you actually introduce your child to the dog.
After a few days, put the dog on a leash and allow the dog to come closer to inspect the baby. Be sure to talk to your dog in a positive and reassuring tone and give them lots of affection during this interchange. Most dogs are easily won over at this point but don’t take any chances. Look for warning signs of fear or aggression and be prepared.
Another important point there is to allow the dog to approach you and your baby, not the other way around. This way the dog will be inviting the introduction rather than forced into one. Make sure you stay between your baby and the dog at all times as the dog can react very quickly to the baby crying, screaming or kicking around.
– Plenty of Attention
Avoid the tendency to only give the dog attention when the baby is away or sleeping. You don’t want any negative feelings associated with the new baby. By the same measure, if your dog picks up one of the baby’s toys, don’t overreact. Simply convince them to swap it for one of theirs and discard or thoroughly clean the toy as needed. Again, the dog already knew whose toy it was they were wondering what the boundaries were.
– Prepare for the Future
Within a matter of months your baby will be sitting up and even crawling around, your dog may take longer to warm up to the new comer. Be sure to monitor all interaction as the toddler begins to toddle about the house. The dog can feel threatened by this sudden mobility. Babies that inadvertently pull hair, ears or tug on tails can get nipped fast. Never leave them alone together as accidents can happen even in play. This goes true for small dogs and larger breeds as they are equally unpredictable.
– Have “Dog” Zones
Your dog will need a place they can go to get away from all the human activity if it is getting to exciting. This could be the back patio, gated laundry area or even a large enough crate or box. The important thing is that they baby is not allowed there and that there are the dogs toys, blankets and things that make the dog happy.
– Baby Room
If you feel the baby room needs to be cordoned off from your dog this is ok. Even a friendly, curious well-meaning dog can pose a health and life threat to a small baby.