Friday, October 16, 2009

Your Baby, the Newest Pack Member

I see it time and time again. Dogs being relinquished to a shelter because their owners had a baby. This always boggles my mind. First thing, wasn't this dog their "baby" at one point in their lives? Plus, children LOVE dogs, and finally...they had NINE months to prepare the dog for baby's arrival. It's not like this was un-expected and one day out of no-where the stork knocked on their door and said "Guess what? You're parents!"
Dogs generally have no issues what-so-ever adjusting to life with baby; all it takes is a little bit of training, which should start right after that important phone call to the soon to be grandparents.

Introducing baby, the newest pack member, actually starts long before the baby is actually born. First and foremost, if your dog is not yet properly obedience trained, (shame on you!) now is the time to do it! Your dog must always comply with your verbal commands, and curb any play biting or mouthing behavior right away. Do you have any friends or relatives with young infants in the house? Bring your dog over for a 'sniff' date. Bring plenty of extra yummy and special treats such as freeze dried liver, chicken or beef hot dogs. Keep your dog on a leash, and make sure to keep all dog/baby interactions completely positive! Offer treats, toys and love whenever your dog is near a baby and behaving. If your dog does not behave, simply remove him or her from the room in a calm and quiet manner and try again later.

Begin child proofing your dog by handling him or her all over. Your child will most likely pull on doggy's tail and ears, and pinch, poke and push! Get your dog ready now! Always praise and give treats to your dog while going through these exercises. Make sure that hands are welcome in and around your dog's food bowl. Do this by dropping hand fulls of dinner one at a time into the bowl as your dog eats.

Get your dog accustomed to the nursery. Teach your dog to lie down quietly in the baby's room, and praise them lavishly for doing so! (You may want to purchase a special mat for them in that room so they know exactly where they are allowed to be.)

Make sure you have a plan for you dog for when you have to go to the hospital. Preferably one that keeps the dog in the home, where there will be the least amount of change to the dog's routine.

After baby is born, but about a day before you come home from the hospital, send some one to the house with on of baby's blankets. Allow the dog to sniff the blanket thoroughly but do NOT allow him or her to play with it! Your dog will remember the scent and recognize your baby when you bring them home. When you and your baby do arrive home, have some one other than yourself carry baby and greet your dog as you normally would. Put your dog on a leash for the first few encounters with the baby, but allow your dog to sniff the baby. Always pair these interactions with yummy treats and lots of praise.
Your dog will start to associate the baby's presence with good and positive feelings. If the dog does do something inappropriate, calmly remove yourself and the baby and try again later.

Remember to ALWAYS praise your dog for ALL appropriate behavior, including when they are doing NOTHING at all! Be patient and persistent. Remember to always remain calm, if you get excited, so might your dog!

Do NOT exclude or ignore your dog. This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make, and it is unfortunately sometimes recommended by the family doctor! Your dog and your baby must have the opportunity to bond, so as long as your dog is behaving, allow him or her to be a part of all baby activities. Give your dog a treat when the baby cries, when you change the baby and when you feed the baby. You will find your dog will start looking forward to these activities, and even enjoy 'helping' with them.

Remember to ALWAYS monitor all interactions between your dog and your child. Period.

This all may take time so be patient and consistent throughout the process and your dog will adjust to the new situation.

No comments:

Post a Comment