Dogs are loved by many, and for many they are considered family members. This primacy shouldn’t be lost when you bring home a newborn human. Experts say that parents should prepare for and establish new boundaries when introducing their baby to their dog.
“Now it’s like dogs are also human,” Christine Vitale, manager of injury prevention at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. But remember: It’s and not a person; it’s an animal with instincts.
Penny Layne (aka Aunt Penny) says that it is important to prepare your dog for when you bring home your baby. This should be done at least months in advance, and not just days or weeks. She is a certified trainer for dogs and a consultant for dog and baby with Family Paws Parent education. This company offers a global network of experts to help children and dogs live together.
Layne, who teaches classes on dogs and babies for expectant parents at MageeWomens Hospital, says that the more time you allow us to prepare your dog for the baby, the better your chances of success. It’s better to have things move slowly.
Layne states that Layne’s goal is to include the dog into the family’s lives. “We want to be in a position to keep the dogs from the shelters.”
Parents who are well-intentioned, but not prepared may make the following mistakes when raising their dogs and babies. Here are some things to avoid.
Do not force interaction
Layne says, “We don’t want people pushing the baby into the dog.” “If the dog pushes away, it’s communicating to us that his discomfort is not now. “
Instead, invite your dog to visit the baby and let him sniff it. Layne says, “We never take the dog to the baby.” “Let him decide when he’s invited.”
Also, your baby shouldn’t be allowed to approach the dog if he or she starts moving. Layne says, “We want to teach our babies early that the dog is our friend.” “We don’t want them to approach the dog while it is sleeping or corner it.”
Do not isolate your dog from her family. Instead, continue to give her a safe place.
Layne refers to “success stations” as a dog crate or gate. This will allow Layne to feel safe and secure in watching over the baby.
Layne states, “We don’t want to separate them. We want them to be there safely.” We want them to be with the new family as well as the baby. They shouldn’t be kept in a closed room.
Do not prop your baby against the dog to take a picture.
Vitale and Layne warn that while it may seem adorable, the baby could be bitten if the baby is placed on the dog or against the dog.
Layne suggests that the parent should hold the baby and the dog while Layne says, “Or the parent can be between the dog and the baby.”
Vitale advises that you avoid any close contact between your baby and your dog. Dogs can be unpredictable so it is important to maintain a safe distance.
You must supervise all children in the nursery.
The dog must know the nursery. Otherwise, it may chew on the things or get in the diaper bin.
Layne suggests that parents prepare their children and inform them that if the dog is going to be allowed in the nursery, they should allow it to go. Keep the door locked otherwise.
Do not yell at your dog for being curious.
The dog is naturally curious. A miniature two-legged creature is fascinating. Layne suggests that you remind your dog what you want.
She says, “If the dog wants to sniff the baby’s skin, then ask them to do so.” “We don’t want to shout at them because they’re curious. We ask them to do something and invite them over.
Vitale suggests that you introduce your dog to baby products before he meets the baby. These items could include diapers and baby lotion. You can also play a CD with baby sounds to help the dog become more familiar with them. Vitale suggests that you can give the baby a blanket to cover his skin and then take it home to him.
Do not misinterpret body language or affection.
If your dog is not licking the baby but is stretching his neck out, it is communicating that he needs more distance. This is what Layne calls the “kiss-to-dismiss” pose. She says that not all licks can be considered kisses.
Layne also says that a dog’s growl at a baby doesn’t necessarily indicate it is aggressive. Consider a dog’s growl like a baby’s crying: It’s a sign that he is uncomfortable. Please help me.
She says that we don’t want people to stop growling. This is because it is usually the first warning sign that a bite is coming. You can avoid a bite by listening to your body’s stress signals.
Vitale suggests that you limit or avoid licking. Although licking babies by dogs can look adorable, they can spread germs and cause skin irritations.
Never leave your dog or baby unattended.
Vitale and Layne warn that even a 30 second delay to use the toilet or answer the phone can put the baby at risk. You can either take the baby with you or the dog. The adult supervising the baby or dog must be attentive and alert, not distracted.
Layne advises, “If you plan to lay down on the couch with your baby on top, make sure that the dog is in the gate or in the crate. It’s a common position for us to fall asleep.”
Vitale and Layne warn that children and babies should not be allowed to play with dogs unsupervised. They could pull at the dog’s tail, climb on her or grab her ears. This can cause the dog to become angry and provoked.
If your baby is crawling, you should not allow them to have access to the dog’s toys, food, or treats.
These limits will help to prevent your dog from resenting you for intruding on his territory.
Layne states that the goal is for children to be respectful of dogs and dogs. Layne says, “We don’t want the baby taking away things from the dog and putting it in an unsafe situation.” Dog food and other items that dogs chew can also contain germs that can make children sick. This is especially dangerous for kids at the “put all my mouth” stage.
Your babysitter should not be expected to look after both the toddlers and the dog.
If you’re away from your home, it would be a good idea to keep the dog inside with food or in a crate somewhere else. If your dog loves to go to doggy daycare, you might consider giving him a place while you are away.
Layne states that it is unrealistic to expect all babysitters and pet owners to be trained on safety. “We want them to be focused on the baby.”
Do not punish the baby’s dog for any behavior related to it.
Vitale warns that this can lead to a rivalry and cause your dog’s association with the new person. Positive reinforcement should be used to encourage good behavior and you should do all that you can to stop bad behaviours from happening. Talk to your veterinarian if your dog is exhibiting bad behavior often.
Don’t forget your first baby
While the new baby is naturally the focus of attention, it can cause other members of your household to feel left out and unloved. This could lead to the dog acting out or wanting attention. Give your dog extra love and attention. Mom should, for example, take the dog for a walk with Dad if she is particularly close to the dog.
Notify your dog and baby that you are walking together. The baby could be at risk if your dog chases a squirrel or approaches a stranger dog.