Babies and Dogs

When everyone returns home at once, bringing in an unfamiliar bundle, a dog can easily get overexcited. Ideally, when mother and baby come home, the mother should greet the dog without the baby. After all, you’ve been gone for a day or so, and the dog probably misses you. If possible, get someone else to hold the baby, in another room, while you give the dog some attention.

Wait for the dog to settle down before the baby is brought into the room. One person should attend to the baby, and one to the dog. Whoever is holding the baby should be seated, to appear less threatening.

At first, let the dog see and smell the baby from about ten to fifteen feet away. As mentioned above, if you have any concern that the dog will misbehave, use a muzzle or leash.

Slowly bring the dog toward the baby. If the dog is too excited, don’t let him get close to the baby, and you may want to wait until later if you have any qualms about how the dog is behaving. It may even take several days for the dog to become calm enough. Reward good behavior, and avoid harsh punishments.

Doggy Issues

Usually dogs are protective and will accept a baby as part of the family “pack”. However, problems occasionally occur when it has not been made clear to the animal that the new bundle is a family member the dog needs to protect and respect. Parents might not be concerned that the dog would see the newborn as an intruder or threat, but even if your dog gets along with older children, don’t leave him alone with a new baby.

Taking the steps outlined above to prepare your pet will help him understand baby is part of the family.

Be alert when the child starts to crawl or walk, as your dog may react in self-defense to these new behaviors. And keep soiled diapers in a securely sealed container. It’s normal maternal behavior for a dog to lick up her puppies’ waste, and your dog may try to do this for your baby.