If you are about to bring home your new baby for the first time it is a good idea to introduce the baby to your dog in a correct way. You will find advice here.
Unwanted behavior in your dog
If your dog doesn’t see you as the pack leader it can have a lot of inappropriate behavior like jumping up on you, being aggressive or other unwanted behavior. It is a good idea to address these problems immediately before bringing home a new baby. 9 months is enough time to address such problems. If necessary contact a professional to help you. You’ll be glad to bring the newborn baby home to a balanced, calm dog with good behavior.
Your dog understands your signals and emotions
It is important to be aware of how your behavior and emotions influence your dog. A pregnancy can affect the entire family. You may be thrilled, excited, nervous or afraid – your dog will pick up on all of these feelings and act accordingly.
Your Baby has a unique odor
Take ownership of your baby’s smell from the very beginning. Take an object in the home that has your baby’s smell on it like for example a piece of cloth from the hospital before the baby arrives home. In this exercise it is important that you set clear boundaries. Only allow your dog to smell from the distance while holding the object. By doing so you are communicating to your dog that the object is yours – and that only you can allow the dog to smell the object. The dog needs to follow your rules when the dog is in the vicinity of the object. This starts the process of creating the dog’s respect for the baby.
Set clear limits concerning the children’s room
Establish boundaries around your baby and children’s area. It is a good idea to start off with the dog having no access to the children’s bedrooms. Train your dog to understand that there is an invisible barrier that the dog is not allowed to go through without your consent. Later on you can allow your dog to explore and smell each thing in the room while you monitor the dog. It is you who determines when the dog must leave the room. Repeat this exercise a few times before the baby arrives. This lets the dog understand that the room is yours and that this must be respected.
How to introduce your dog to the baby for the first time
Take control of the introduction between dog and baby. Start taking your dog out on a long walk, so the dog spends most of its energy. When you return to the house, you must wait at the entrance until your dog is completely relaxed. When you invite the dog inside the house, it will immediately detect that there is a new smell in the house. If you have introduced the dog to the baby’s odor before the smell will not be unprecedented. Mom and dad must be relaxed and calm when holding the baby. The dog should be allowed to smell the baby from a safe and respectful distance. Do not let the dog get too close to the baby at the first meeting. Eventually the dog may be allowed to get closer and closer to the baby. By making the introduction in this way you teach the dog to see the baby as a second pack leader.
When your child gets more mobile
When your child has reached the age when the child is able to explore on its own it is still important to monitor any interactions between child and dog. This is a good opportunity to teach your child not to annoy the dog by pulling the tail etc. These lessons about mutual respect can’t start too early. Too many children have unwittingly provoked an otherwise calm dog, simply because the child was not supervised by parents or had received sufficient instruction.
Can a dog get jealous?
Do not forget the dog. A dog does not need new toys or attention to feel important. Just keep up the normal routine of daily walks and consistent leadership. This will help your dog to feel safe and make it easier for the dog to accept the family increase in a calm and relaxed manner.
Is the breed important?
The advice applies to all breeds – large and strong dog breeds as well as small and cute breeds. Even a small chihuahua has the potential to hurt a baby. The key is leadership – Be honest with yourself. Can you control your dog in all situations? Your child’s safety always comes first.
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