Bringing Your Dog Into Your New Baby's Life

Family with Infant and Dog

All too often, animal shelters have to take in dogs that have become homeless through no fault of their own. They are simply the victims of a new parent's understandable concern for the safety of their new baby.

Many believe that a dog and a new baby cannot happily coexist, so therefore the dog has to go. This is not necessarily the case. A new baby does not mean you have to abandon your dog.

Dog Day Care worker supervising
With careful training and observation, your dog and new baby can be wonderful parts of each other's lives.

With a little work on your part the entire household can live in harmony. Your new baby will grow up with a furry best friend and your dog will not go through the trauma of losing his home and family.

Here are some ways to help your dog adjust to the arrival of your new baby. Following these tips will help to avoid possible problems and provide a safe and happy environment for both your new baby and your pet.

Preparation

The key is to prepare your dog prior to your new baby's arrival. Keep in mind that your dog is a part of your family too.

A new arrival is just as big an upheaval in his daily life as it is yours. Laying some groundwork before the baby comes will make it much easier for your dog to cope with the change that is about to come

The first step is obedience training

This sounds simple, but it must go beyond just learning to sit and lay down. Your dog must become reliable in the down position, down-stays, leaving a room when told or not entering a room all together.

You must get your dog to the stage where he is obedient to all your commands.

This will require teaching him boundary control and using positive reinforcement throughout all of his training. This is the best way to ensure that his behaviors are permanent and trustworthy!

You must get your dog to the stage where he is obedient to all your commands. If you command "Leave it!" he must immediately ignore dropped food, a toy or anything he might find interesting.

Another important command your dog must obey is "Drop it!" If you give this command, he must immediately drop whatever is in his mouth.

It is this obedience that will help him to better accept a new baby with all its unfamiliar smells and sounds. He will also be better equipped to deal with the fact that he is no longer the center of your attention.

Man Walking Dogs
Serveral tactics will build a bond, and keep both infant and dog safe as the family gets to know each other.

After Baby Arrives

When your baby arrives, your dog will naturally be very curious. Some under-socialized dogs may even be frightened. If you have a genuine concern for your baby's safety, begin introductions with the dog on a leash.

Holding your baby in the safety of your arms, sit low enough so that the baby is at the eye level of your dog. Ask a helper to attach a leash to your dog, and hold him a few feet away from the baby.

He should be able to see and smell the infant, but not be able to make any sort of contact. You can then judge how to proceed based on your dog's demeanor.

If the dog is calm and well-behaved it should be okay to allow him to approach. If the dog is agitated or too excited you will probably need more time.

Command the dog to sit quietly and, using positive reinforcement, give him a high value reward such as real meat or cheese. This reward should be more interesting to him than the baby, so it must be something he really loves.

When he sits on cue, reward him and ask him to stay. You can then bring the baby closer to him, or ask him to take a step or two and sit again. Reward him every time he does what you ask.

Doing this keeps his excitement and interest in the baby controlled. This will help to prevent any accidents and allows him to follow your lead. Continue bringing the dog and your baby closer, but only while the dog is under control.

He must be calm and polite; not pulling on the leash, barking, jumping or acting too excited. If he is too exuberant to control, remove him from the room. Give him time to calm down, and then try again.

Man Walking Dogs
You new baby will take a lot of care, but it's crucial not to forget about your dog.

Don't Forget your Dog

During this time of transition, don't forget your dog's needs. He will be far more receptive to the changes in his routine if all his needs, especially exercise, are met.

If you can tire him out with some extra exercise before introducing him to your baby, he will not be as excited and will be much easier to control.

Reward him every time he behaves in a calm and well-mannered way when he interacts with the baby. He will come to associate calm and relaxed behavior around your little one as a positive experience.

He will then choose to behave politely, instead of being out of control, rambunctious, rough or loud.

Finally, don't give up. At times it may seem like the adjustment is just too much to handle. More often than not, it is the parents that struggle with the training.

Dogs are very adaptable creatures, and with your help and guidance your canine companion will bounce right back into his usual routine and enjoy the company of the newest family member.

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