Newborns and Dogs
When first time parents learn that they are expecting a baby all seems perfect in their world. If they also own a dog(s), now it’s the perfect time to sit-down and formulate a plan to guarantee harmony in the household when the baby arrives home. If the dog hasn’t had contact with the babies previously or very young children, there is a strong chance that the dog would not recognise baby as a human. The dog may be quite unsure as to what behaviours to offer.
STEP 1: Assess the dog’s temperament. If you don’t know how to do this engage a professional trainer to provide the advice. You need to understand how the dog will react to a new pack member suddenly arriving in his territory.
STEP 2: Obedience train your dog!! You have got 6 or 7 months to get the job well & truly sorted. Use a professional dog trainer specifically:
- To walk calmly on a lead
- To walk calmly on a lead beside an empty pram or pusher
- To obey the ‘stay’ command without any exceptions
- To obey ‘come’ command without any exceptions
- To obey ‘leave it’ command without any exceptions
- To obey ‘sit’ and ‘drop’ command without any exceptions
STEP 3: If the dog lives inside your home, I would ‘crate train’ the dog. For everyone’s piece of mind, the dog can be in the house but cannot have access to the baby. When the dog is moving around the house, the dog wears a collar and lead AT ALL TIMES.
STEP 4: Bring home a baby blanket from the hospital with the baby’s odour on it. Place a doll in the blanket, wrap it up and place it on the lounge-room floor. Bring the dog into the room ON A LEAD. Practice your “sit”, “down”, “stay” and particularly the “leave it” commands. The dog cannot be allowed to sniff or interact with the doll.
STEP 5: When the new mother first arrives home, I suggest the she calmly greets the dog and makes genuine contact. DO NOT have the baby in your arms. Show the dog that you acknowledge his presence and give the dog a chance to smell the odour of the baby blanket and you, without the distraction of the baby in your arms.
STEP 6: Avoid jealousy or attention seeking behaviours from the dog.
- You can get new, exciting toys for the dog and use them as a distraction.
- When the baby cries and needs attention, one parent attends to the baby and one parent interacts with the dog in another room.
STEP 7: Never allow the dog in the baby’s room. Not even under supervision. Finally, never leave the baby and the dog unsupervised.
By following these 7 simple steps you will be able to introduce your new baby into the family in a safe and controlled way. By putting in the work now you ensure a harmonious home for both the new baby and your dog(s). With the right attitude, training and preparation this will be the beginning of a strong family bond.