Introducing Dogs To BabiesSeptember 14, 2016
As this picture can attest, it’s been a long time since we brought a new baby into our house. But there was a time a mere 14 years ago when we had three dogs (a Newfoundland, a Great Dane, and a Labrador) and 4 kids under 2 years old all living in a 950 square foot house. This is not something we would recommend you try at your house. So even though it’s been a while, we do have some experience introducing dogs to babies, and of course the other way around. No doubt this will surprise those of you who know about Mark’s parenting skills (remember he taught the triplets to swim in Pet Camp’s dog pool and thought a cat condo was a perfect place for a baby to nap) we actually get asked about how to go about this with some regularity. Here are some basic thoughts about the process.
First, forget any idea about trying to keep things the same with your dog. Your best intentions notwithstanding, it just can’t happen. You and your dog’s life as you knew it are over and gone; you just need to make the best of it…and it can be amazing!
Second, always think safety first. Don’t leave your dog and your baby alone without supervision. No matter how amazing your dog is (and even if your baby is ok too), things can and will happen and this is a risk just not worth taking. If you are fortunate to have a room for your baby consider limiting your dog’s access to that room without you even before your baby comes home. This is especially the case if this was a room to which your dog traditionally had free access.
Third, make sure that your dog equates good things with your baby. If there is a special treat or toy, make that available only when your baby and dog are together (with you of course). This is a simple example of positive association, but your dog will love it.
Fourth, don’t set your baby or your dog up to fail. If your dog has any resource guarding tendencies (like if your dog tends to protect its food), don’t put your baby near those resources, and once your baby is mobile make sure that your baby stays away from those things.
Fifth, a successful relationship between baby and dog requires work on both parties. Just like your dog needs to adjust to having a baby in your house, as your baby grows you will need to help your baby, your toddler and your child respect your dog.
We know that five short pieces of advice are not nearly enough to fully set any new parent on the road to successfully managing things with a new baby and dog. We’ve provided a link to the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine that has a more detailed list of suggested practices. Also remember, it’s ok to take a break from all of this. If there are times when juggling all the demands of parenthood are too much, remember you have a support structure for your dog at Pet Camp; the human kid is all yours to take care of.
Thanks for reading.