Dogs & Babies – How to Introduce
We are often asked by new parents or parents to be, how to introduce
dogs & babies to a new addition to the family. If our dog doesn’t have experience with children and babies we need to start training them well before the baby arrives home.
Unfortunately, we see many situations where the baby has already come home and the dog is ignored, left by himself, gated in another room or banished to live outside. Of course when this happens we often see a dog that has become anxious, confused or resentful and acts out in a number of ways. We can limit potential behavior problems or prevent them from happening if we take the appropriate steps before the infant arrives.
Introducing Dogs & Babies to each other.
Before the baby comes home we want to get our dog used to the sounds, sights and smells that are associated with babies. The sound of a baby crying can be played on a CD player that we place in our future baby’s crib along with a baby doll. In this way we can simulate what the dog will experience when the baby does come home and begin dealing with any problems that might arise such as over excitement, fearfulness or even aggression.
We can start by taking the dog to the crib where the baby will be sleeping and introduce her to it. Let her explore the room and crib and become comfortable in that space. When he is comfortable we can introduce the doll, change it, feed it or just sit in the rocking chair with it. While we are addressing our doll we will be showing the dog how to behave while this is all going on. We will show them where to lie down so they will be out of our way in the future and we will not play rough with them or get them excited in this room because we want them to come in here and be quiet and calm. It is during this time that we will fix any issues that may present themselves with our dog’s behavior. In the baby room we can put the doll down and correct any mistakes as they happen and not have to worry about our future baby.
During this process we should get a real soiled diaper from a friend or family member so we can see if our dog will be the type to forage through the diaper pail later on. If we see that our dog is one of those types we still have time to teach them to leave that stuff alone before the baby gets home.
After we have gone through this feeding and changing practice we can move along to walking our dog with a stroller. Many dogs have difficulty walking out in the world so when we add a stroller to the mix things can get a little uncontrollable and dangerous.
First of all we will NEVER attach the leash to the stroller or to ourselves. If we do, and the dog gets spooked for whatever reason and starts running we could have a tragedy on our hands. Before starting this your dog should already know how to heel and be able to walk with you on a loose leash. With an empty stroller we will take our dog for a short walk around the neighborhood focusing only on the dog’s ability to stay in the correct position while we move straight. This will include a lot of starting and stopping and very few if any turns. Once we have our dog performing well with moving straight we can start to throw in some left and right turns. Turning with a stroller will add a new level of difficulty for some dogs so we will take our time to make sure our dog understands where to be when the stroller cuts them off on left turns and disappears on right turns.
As a last step after the baby is born and before she arrives home introduce the dog to the baby’s scent by bringing home some blankets or clothing that the baby has worn or been in contact with. This should help the dog be more relaxed and accepting when the baby arrives.
These are just a few things we should be doing to help our dogs in this transitional period. If you are expecting or are planning to have a baby and need some help, please get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to assist you.
Watch for future articles on Dogs & Babies.