Is there anything cuter than a captured moment between a young child and a dog? There is something about those interactions that melt my heart. But with all of that cuteness, comes the challenge of properly acclimating a dog to a new human to help set them both up for a successful relationship. Recently, there have been some difficult to watch videos circulating around social media with dogs being pushed past their limits and redirecting their frustration on a child. These incidents are preventable, and it is time that proper techniques for introduction and management were addressed.
So you are bringing a new baby home, and you already have a furry baby in the house. What do you do now? In the home, I always start with ensuring the dog has a solid ‘go to your bed’ command. Being able to send the dog away (without getting stressed) while dealing with the baby is very important. I have beds set up in all rooms that will be frequently used with the baby, including the nursery, so the dog is able to be a part of the action, while calmly remaining in their place. You can also use baby gates to keep dogs out of spaces if that works better in your home. I will also teach a dog to walk with a stroller prior to a baby’s arrival so they can join on walks and you aren’t dealing with training this task while also tending to a new child. This way everyone can enjoy outings together with far less stress.
Before the baby is born, don’t overload your dog with attention in anticipation of not being able to give them as much once the baby comes. In fact, do the opposite. Begin to get your dog used to having quiet time alone, and show them that they don’t need to be constantly given attention since it will be much more divided once the baby arrives. Make the changes to your routine well before the baby comes so the dog doesn’t affiliate the change with the baby’s presence. Play sounds of baby noises (because let’s be honest, they’re super strange!) so it becomes ambient noise for your dog.
“Play sounds of baby noises (because let’s be honest, they’re super strange!) so it becomes ambient noise for your dog.”
Once the baby is born, have someone bring a blanket with the baby’s scent home, and let your dog become familiar with this strange new smell in their home. When it is time to bring the baby home, go and greet your dog first. They will probably be very excited to see you, and you want to get the initial greeting out of the way so the excitement level can decrease before you bring the baby inside. Keep introductions very calm, slow, and extremely controlled. Let your dog initiate the first interactions with the baby, like sniffing, but do it on a leash for added safety.
When the baby begins to move around more, micromanagement is crucial. Never, under any circumstance leave a dog unattended with a child of any age regardless of how well they get along. Children should be taught how to properly engage with their pet, i.e. no tail or ear pulling, petting calmly, not stealing toys, etc. You also need to ensure you are well versed in stress signs in a dog. Whale eyes, tongue flicking, and avoidance can all be signs of stress which often leads to these horrific incidents that were previously mentioned. So often in watching these videos, you can see the dog giving off stress warning signs well before any reaction, it is purely a lack of knowledge on the parent’s part for letting their child continue to push their dog to the point of a reaction.
While these are some good guidelines for getting your new baby and fur baby off on the right path, they are by no means exclusive. It is always helpful to consult with an obedience trainer before the baby’s arrival to ensure you have the foundational skills necessary to comfortably integrate your family!
If you enjoyed this post, you should read Tips To Consider Before Bringing Home A Pup Before The New Year here.
We clearly have babies on the brain as we are expecting our first-what did you do with your pup and baby? Share below.