How to ensure safe and happy coexistence
The arrival of a new family member is an exciting and joyful event for families. However, with a dog in the household, these positive feelings may also be mixed with feelings of anxiousness and concern. Will my dog be jealous of the baby? Will he be aggressive with the baby? Will he bite the baby? Or give him or her diseases? While such questions are understandable, there is no need to fret. Various plans may be implemented to ensure that both your furry child and your not-so-furry child are able to exist harmoniously.
Dogs may often be very tolerant – and even protective – of babies. Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers that may arise when putting pets and children together. Even the most well-trained or friendly dog may freak-out if a baby is suddenly placed within his space without proper preparation. In order to achieve successful coexistence, certain precautions should be taken both before, during, and after the arrival of a new baby.
Before the Arrival: Prepare your dog for what’s to come
In order to do this, you may have to do some things that your dog may not particularly appreciate…
Annoy your dog. Think about what your baby might do and practise the equivalent. Gently tug your dogs tail, pull his ears, pinch his fur. These actions should all be done with ‘baby’ strength, of course, so as not to hurt your dog. The intention here is to prepare your pet for the nagging and badgering that may come along with a new baby in the household, and to prevent him from acting aggressively towards the baby in such cases. Further reading up on how to stop dog aggression may be useful.
Reduce the amount of attention you pay your dog. This is not at all to say that you should neglect your pet, but the demands of a new baby are bound to result in less one-on-one time, and it is a good idea to prepare your dog for this. Get him used to being without you for longer durations of time. Teach him commands such as “Go to bed”, which will see themselves helpful when you are busy and need to prioritize your baby. Through this exercise, when your baby finally arrives, your dog will not see him or her as the reason behind his lessened special-attention time.
The Arrival: The very important introduction
The introduction between your dog and baby should be done in a slow and controlled manner. It is advisable for your dog to be taken on a long walk before the meeting in order to drain his energy. Everyone should be in a calm state – the mother, the father, the baby, and the dog. The first meeting may involve your dog sniffing the baby from a respectable distance – nothing too close. Allow for your dog to adjust to the smell, sight, and sound of your baby, gradually introducing them in closer proximity. This process could take place over the course of a few days.
After the Arrival: The coexistence part
Supervision. It is always a good idea to supervise your dog when he is around your baby. As trustworthy as your pet may be, dogs are likely to be curious and may react in unexpected ways upon introduction to a new family member.
Help your dog accept your baby. The new noises and smells that come along with a new baby may find themselves to be very overwhelming for your dog. Carefully allow your dog to have a sniff of your little one’s clothes and diapers and give him a treat as he does so. This process will not only help your furry friend adjust to your baby, but it may also cause him to associate the baby’s scent with something positive.
Splitting Attention. It is important that your dog continues to feel loved while you prioritize your baby. During times when you are busy running around your little one, you could give your dog a new toy to play with. If you want to simultaneously give your baby and dog attention, you could do things such as throwing a toy for your dog while you cuddle your baby, or giving your dog a treat while you feed your baby.
Hygiene Rules. Infections or diseases, such as ringworm, should greatly be taken into account. Not only do such conditions negatively affect your dog, but they may also be very dangerous for your baby. Babies immune systems are weaker, thus putting them at a higher risk of contagion and danger. If your dog has some type of infection or disease, he should not be in contact with your baby until after he has been treated and cured.