Preparing Your Dog for a Human Baby

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This Dog Has a Scared and Scary Face!!! hanks CBS.news for the Photo

This Dog Has a Scared and Scary Face!!! hanks CBS.news for the Photo

Recently I had a client ask for advice on getting their dog ready for a new baby!

 

I get this question fairly frequently and thought this would be a great time for a new baby/dog tutorial.

 

I have a whole new perspective on babies and dogs because I have worked in the dog training field for so long.

And let me say here first most of these “adorable” photos I am sharing scare me!  A cute photo op, is not worth a scar that will last a lifetime or a moment that may kill your child.

 

Fortunately or unfortunately I see the worst of the worst.

 

I deal with the dogs and clients whose children get mauled by their or someone else’s dog.

 

I suppose this taints my feeling on introducing dogs to children and babies; yet people with dogs have babies all of the time!

 

So let’s work together to make it as easy, and safe as possible!

 

This means to share this article with the people you know and love to help educate them and keep both dog and child safe and happy.

 

Let’s Be Honest

Terrifying!!  Both the hand in the fur and in the bowl!  Thanks ocmedcenter for the photo

Terrifying!! Both the hand in the fur and in the bowl! Thanks ocmedcenter for the photo

 

First let’s be honest with one another; not all dogs love babies.

 

  • Some dogs are terrified of babies.

  • Some dogs are jealous of babies.

  • Some are possessive aggressive with children.

  • Some dogs are territorial with babies and children.

  • And, some dogs think babies are prey (very scary).

 

None of these present for a safe much less a situation.

 

And, a lot of parents are simply in denial or don’t recognize the tell tale signs of aggression toward their children.

 

eeeekkkk!  Thanks alexa.onezerolabs

eeeekkkk! Thanks alexa.onezerolabs

I often hear

 

“My dog growls at the baby, but he’d never hurt him”

 

Or worse…

 

“My dog only snaps at the baby when he/she hurts him  (meaning the child is allowed to grab or hurt the dog) but the dog would never bite the baby”

 

Ummmm…. A Growl is a Warning

 

A growl or a snap is a warning that should not be ignored, and in my opinion a child should never be allowed to be close enough to hurt a dog, or a dog close enough to snap at the child.

 

Please click this link and watch this video and read this article for more information on Teaching Your Children to be Kind and Mindful of Dogs and Educating Others.  The video and article sum up a lot of information for you!

 

If this process of “disliking” the child continues the dog will grow up having hostile feelings toward the child that run deep.

 

Just photos of babies laying on dogs scares the crap out of me, what if the dog decides he doesn’t want the baby there?

 

If a dog didn’t want another dog laying on him, he would nip the other dog… the honest truth is dogs do this to children all the time.  And, it is difficult for most people to see the signs.  And let’s face it some are in serious denial that the dog that they love doesn’t like the child that they love.

 

I prefer to keep them separate and teach the dog that the baby is cool to have around!

 

So What Can You Do?

 

Before The Baby Comes Home

Not worth the risk, in my opinion.  Thanks Sunnyskyz for the photo

Not worth the risk, in my opinion. Thanks Sunnyskyz for the photo

 

1st

 

Make sure your dog has great obedience.  For help click here

 

He needs to not jump on other people or kids  for help click here.

 

And, he needs to have a great sit and down stay.

 

As well as great leash manners

 

After all… no one wants to be pregnant with a wild dog in the house.

 

Even if you do survive your pregnancy how is this going to work when you have an infant in your arms?

 

2nd Get Your Dog Used to Children; Safely!

 

Most people who are having children have friends or family that HAVE babies or children.

 

Socializing your dog with good children and babies is the first step.

 

If you have a nephew or niece that is a terror; avoid that situation for your dog.  There is no need to make your dog more fearful or apprehensive than they have to be!

 

Find good children that have good manners and monitor the behavior of both while they are interacting!

 

Keep your dog on a leash so that all interaction is next to you.

 

This ensures that you can see your dog’s reaction

 

This also ensures that you can see how the child is treating your dog (even good kids try to ride dogs and sometimes treat them inappropriately).

 

Reward your dog heavily for good behavior (but be sure to make sure that your dog has no possession issues with food first).

 

I don’t force my dog to interact with my family or friend’s kids; instead I make my dog lay down next to me and I reward for good behavior.

 

If the child gets close or my friend brings over an infant I click and reward my dog for staying down and having squishy face for more on that click here.

 

So if you read that, I reward for squishy face, not dilated pupils or signs of stress or fear or staring (staring is almost never good).  I also look at the tail of my dog and reward for happy wagging, not dominant wagging or a tucked tail.   For more on reading the Tail tells the Tale, click here.

 

By associating children with control (yes dogs do like you to be in control and enjoy obedience) and good things your dog learns to not fear children, while learning how to behave around them.

 

Wouldn’t you like to have your dog lay on your feet or next to you while you have your new infant out?

 

The more you socialize and teach your dog how to behave the better your dog will handle the situation when your new baby arrives.

 

Baby-and-DogRight Before Your Baby Comes Home

 

Bring a baby blanket home from the hospital so your dog can get used to the smell of your baby without having to get up in your baby’s face.   I don’t recommend ever dipping the baby down so the dog can get into his or her face, this is dangerous for a number of reasons and teaches your dog that jumping up and getting into children’s faces is good.  Sniffing the baby from a distance and from his/her bottom is more than enough for your dog.

 

And, make sure someone is spending extra time with your dog.  Hire a dog walker, have family take your dog for a long walk so that your dog’s opinion of the baby and all the new smells is not rife with stress.

 

All the socialization in the world with other people’s kids is nothing like bringing your own baby home full time.

 

When Your Baby Comes Home

 

Make sure that your dog is still getting special attention.

 

Remember that before you got pregnant and had your human baby, your dog was probably your baby; and chances are he is mourning the loss of time with his best friend.

 

Spend time training and snuggling while the baby sleeps and make sure other members of the family do the same.

 

Jealousy creeps in when the dog is ignored and his whole life is turned upside down by the new baby.

 

When the baby is awake, make sure you all have fun time together.  Carry treats and click your dog for laying down calmly with the baby in the room; and give the dog special treats and bones while the baby is safely in his own space (i.e. nowhere near the dog, you don’t want possession issues) but in the room.

 

I often give my dogs bones to chew on, on their bed, while company is over.  My dog MUST lay on his bed, away from company, and yet company coming over is associated with great things.  The same can be done with your dog and baby provided that everyone is in their own space and safe.

 

As Your Baby Grows

Yes This Scares Me Too.  Thanks Blog Spot for the Photo

Yes This Scares Me Too. Thanks Blog Spot for the Photo

 

Teach your dog to go lay on his bed when you tell him to, this gets him out of the way of a toddler learning to toddle or teach him to go lay somewhere like a crate where the toddler can’t get to him.   For more on teaching your dog Place click here.

 

Be sure to teach your toddler manners and be strict about chasing, grabbing at, or getting in your dog’s space.

 

Often we want to reprimand the dog, when it is the child who needs to be taught manners.

 

There need to be strict and specific punishments for being unkind to the dog or not listening to parents.

 

I never let toddlers pet my dogs… their tiny hands can grab fur and yank to a point where the dog feels there is no other way to get away than to bite.

 

Ever had a toddler grab your hair?  YIKES!!!

And, they can’t see the signs and they might not let the dog go if he growls or struggles.

 

If I want a toddler to interact with my dog I take my dog’s tail or body and rub it against the toddler so that the toddler can’t grab my dog.  Then of course I click and reward my dog for being so good!

 

Never, Ever, Ever

Does Your Dog Like His Feet Grabbed?  This Could End Horribly.

Does Your Dog Like His Feet Grabbed? This Could End Horribly.

 

Never, ever, ever leave your dog alone with a child or toddler.

 

Put your dog outside, or in his crate if your child is wandering around; or teach the dog to always follow you around so that you are there to watch their interaction.

 

Do Some Dogs Get Along with Children Without All of This?

 

YES!  I am amazed at some things that some dogs put up with, and scared by photos and stories all of the time.

 

But are you willing to take the chance that your dog might be the one to inflict a deadly bite?

 

I would rather teach control than take the risk any day!!!

 

There are 4 Comments

  1. Jen R says:

    Interesting read and cute photos! When I was pregnant with my first child, Sara I used a book called Tell Your Dog You’re Pregnant: An essential guide for dog owners who are expecting a baby. It was really helpful and came with a baby sounds and toy noises. Max (my fur child!) took some time to get used to the sounds but the book helped on how to do it. It gave me advice on what changes will occur and how to prepare my Max for them. It also talked about the causes for aggression and why it might occur and how to avoid it. It is written by a vet behaviorist too so it cover health issues as well – I got it from http://www.babyandpet.com.au – mayb that will help someone else!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Thank you Jen~! Having never had furless children I had no idea there was such a book!

    [Reply]

  2. Marti says:

    I am the proud Great Grandmother of a wonderful little boy.

    The problem is not necessarily the “dog” it’s the grandfather. He enjoys lifting the baby in his arms and sailing him in the air and then bringing him back to earth by shaking him and holding him in the dogs face. This always results in the dog attempting to bite the child. My personal theory is the dog assumes the behavior results in his perception of the baby as being a “chew toy”. This dog has not had any discipline training and the grandfather adores his “sweet little Josephine” who is a pitbull/Labrador cross and weighs about 80 lbs. She has never received any training and is allowed to do whatever she pleases in her house or any other, she has never been crate trained or leash trained and if you attempt any discipline the grandfather becomes really angry at your interference with his adorable dog. This whole terrible scenario is even further complicated by the “head” dog of the house, a purebred bulldog who is very protective of “his” baby. I personally find this whole situation terrifying. The Mother and Father do not intervene in this situation because both are intimidated by the fathers temper. Very scary, suggestions???

    [Reply]

    Carol Braden Reply:

    Marti, I would call Child Protective Services or whatever the agency is called in your area. This is clearly child endangerment and the agency will educate the child’s parents on how to properly protect their child.

    [Reply]

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