Preparing your dog for a new bub in the family
We are all aware of the problems that can occur between dogs and children. There are many physical and psychological injuries associated with dog bites every year and some frightening statistics suggest that the offending dog is often the family pet. Some of these interactions have resulted in the tragic death of newborn babies. Alarmed? Don’t be. The good news is that many of these incidents are preventable through good dog training for kids and socialisation – of the human family as well as the dog!
We’ve all heard the saying prevention is better than cure. Nothing could be more accurate when it comes to children and dogs. If you are thinking of starting a family or already pregnant and have a dog in the family, consider the following questions and tips below:
- Has your dog been exposed to children before? Is your dog relaxed in the presence of children of different ages and activity levels?
- Has your dog been in the presence of a crying baby and/ or a crawling toddler?
- How will your dog’s routine change with the arrival of a new baby?
- Will the dog be restricted to certain areas of the house or become an outside dog?
- Are you prepared to closely supervise your dog and child?
- Does you dog have unwanted behaviours like jumping up and/ or mouthing that could prove problematic either during your pregnancy or with a newborn baby?
- Do you know how to respond to your dog if they behave inappropriately in the presence of your child?
- Have you considered your child and someone else’s dog AND your dog and someone else’s child?
- How will you introduce your new baby to the dog when you come home from the hospital?
What can you do now?
Consider changing your routine regularly now so that your dog does not have expectations that are set in stone. Think about what you will and won’t be able to do when you have a baby – will the dog be receiving less stimulation and interaction? Training exercises in the home can be used to tire an active dog and utilising dog walking or day care services can be helpful in some situations. Supervision is vital- a dog should never be left alone with a child, regardless of size, breed or personality. Teach your dog to leave the baby’s toys alone, walk next to a pram and stay off baby floor mats and bouncer nets – all before the baby has arrived. This must be done before the baby has arrived so that there is no negative association with the newest family member so start during your pregnancy. Remember that if you completely isolate your dog from the baby – you isolate them from you – and that’s where many problems can begin.
Consider these tips and questions carefully and seek professional help to ensure the relationship between your dog and your children is a great one.
This article has been written by Tamara and Stuart from Underdog training & Behaviour Consulting in Australia which focuses on dog training for kids.
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Last Published* December, 2022
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.