Many dog owners consider their dogs to be their “babies.” But what happens when they have actual human babies and are nervous about how the dog will react?
There are news headlines constantly about dog aggression toward baby. How to introduce a dog to baby?
Dogs and Newborn Babies – Are They a Good Mix?
Studies show that more than 50% of dog bites involve children. Dog behavior with a new baby can vary.
However, when a dog bites a child, it doesn’t necessarily mean the dog is aggressive. There are many reasons why a dog might bite.
Fear, pain, territorial instincts. These are all reasons dogs sometimes bite. Getting dog ready for baby can prevent scary incidents.
Dogs often show warning signs before they bite, but the signs are ignored by humans. It is also common to see a dog depressed after baby.
The above-mentioned news stories are enough to make any parent worry about having dogs and children in the same household. However, those news stories are often sensationalized to sell newspaper copy (or get clicks in the internet age.)
Properly training your dog, giving them time to adjust to the new baby, and slowly introducing them can prevent bites. Too often, dogs are unfairly blamed when toddler-age children and older aren’t taught proper behavior around a dog. As a result, the dog is rehomed or worse.
Of course, babies can’t be taught the dos and don’ts of dog etiquette. Ultimately, it falls on the parents or caregivers to prepare the dog in the weeks and days leading up to the baby’s arrival. Dogs and infants can co-exist in one household with proper preparation.
Preparing Dogs For New Baby
Dogs are lovable and loyal. But they’re also creatures of habit. The most important thing about introducing a dog to your newborn is to be patient with your pup.
The sense of smell is keen for dogs. When you bring a baby home, you’re bringing along new sounds, smells and sights. Your dog needs to be introduced slowly so neither the dog nor the baby gets overwhelmed.
Your dog may feel jealous of the baby, especially if they’ve been the ‘baby’ in the family for years. Of course, your priorities will shift from the furry baby to the human one, but your dog won’t understand why.
Signs a Dog is Jealous of the Baby
Dogs are pretty simple to read if you take the time to learn their non-verbal cues. The fur on a dog’s back may rise if the dog is feeling scared or territorial.
Nose licking, lowered ears, and yawning are other signs a dog might display if they are fearful. Growling and baring of the teeth is a more obvious sign that a dog is upset about something.
However, it’s important NOT to let your dog get to that point because snapping or biting is the next step.
A dog very rarely attacks without some kind of visible warning. The problem is most people ignore the warning or laugh it off.
Your dog may display jealousy of the baby with the following signs:
- Aggression (nipping, nibbling, snarling, etc.)
- Potty accident in the house
- Cuddling more than usual
- Taking up your personal space (more than usual)
- Fighting with another pet in the household
- Whining when you’re holding the baby/giving the baby attention
Jealous behavior should not be accepted. However, you should keep in mind that your dog may be depressed with the new baby around.
Patience is the key to dogs meeting babies successfully.
Step-by-Step Guide For Bringing a Baby Home to a Dog Household
New parents have a lot of stress on them. Dealing with an aggressive dog doesn’t have to be one of them. Following these 5 steps can help ease your baby into your dog-friendly household.
Step 1: Switch up your dog’s routine.
With a new baby, you may not be able to walk your dog or feed them on the schedule they are used to keeping. However, changing your dog’s routine without warning is a recipe for disaster.
In the weeks leading up to your baby’s arrival, slowly change up your dog’s feeding time, and walks. For good measure, move their dog beds or toys to different areas around the house to help them accept change.
Step 2: Let the dog sniff the baby’s room.
Hopefully, your baby’s bassinet, changing table, and other furniture are set up before the baby comes. Letting your dog into the baby’s room to sniff around will ease their concerns about what’s going on.
Step 3: Don’t overdo showering your dog with attention before the baby’s arrival.
With the baby coming, you may want to catch up on the sleep you’ll miss and shower your pup with attention. The sleep is a yes, the attention on your dog is a no. Why? Your dog will become used to that type of attention you won’t be able to give them once the baby comes home.
Step 4: Train your dog to go to crate/dog bed/mat on command.
Your dog should have a safe place to retreat to when they need some space. That same place can be used as a training tool for when they can and can’t approach the baby. Making a safe place for your dog may be difficult if you’re renting with pet, but it doesn’t have to be a huge space.
Step 5: Allow your dog to sniff the baby while leashed.
The big day is here! You’re adding to your family, bringing baby home to dog. You should greet your dog alone before bringing them around the baby. Use a leash to let your dog sniff the baby. Give treats for calm, quiet behavior. You can use safe human food for dogs as a training reward.
When the big day arrives, keep an eye on your dog’s body language for clues that they are nervous or stressed. Even the best-trained dog shouldn’t be left unattended with a baby. Bites can happen in an instant.
New parents may have concerns about introducing a dog to baby. But these tips can help dogs and infants become fast friends.