Baby and dog introductions

circa 1950: A trio of mother, baby and dog in a family life scene. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
circa 1950: A trio of mother, baby and dog in a family life scene. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images) /

When you’re expecting a baby there are concerns with how your dog will react. Early training and close attention to cues makes it easy for your dog and your new arrival.

Having a baby is one of the most exciting experiences of one’s life. Bringing your child home to meet your dog is sometimes less exciting, instead filling some owners with anxiety. What if my dog doesn’t take to the newborn, or worse, what if my dog is aggressive towards them? These are all reasonable worries when making introductions.

First, how do you know whether there’s a chance your dog will show aggression. If you have a dog that has shown aggression in the past, try to key in to what circumstances cause this reaction. Is it solely with other dogs, adults, children, or everyone else? If it’s the two latter cases you may want to consider improving your dog’s behavior before bringing them home. One way is by taking your dog into a trainer.

Investing in safety for your dog and child is worth the peace of mind.

If you cannot afford formal training, then try socializing your dog. This doesn’t mean exposing your temperamental dogs to children. Instead, take them to areas to expose them to children scents and behavior. Take your dog to parks where there are children while keeping them on a leash. A dog’s instinct is to chase them, seeing them as prey. When a child runs by and your dog doesn’t attempt to run after them or nip give them a treat. Positive reinforcement is always the best means of training for desired behavior. Continue to do this until your dog is comfortable relaxing while children are around.

A dog’s sense of smell is useful in these cases.

Your dog will already know you are pregnant. So point to your belly and allow your dog to smell you while you’re pregnant. When your child first arrives, and you are still hesitant to introduce your dog, then begin introducing your child’s scent to your pup. Wherever your dog sleeps, consider leaving a used baby blanket in that area. Your dog will become accustomed to the scent.

Safe and controlled exposure to the baby is also a good idea. Feed your dog at the same time you feed your baby. As they share time and space together there will be opportunities for them to bond. This means, keeping a close eye on dog and baby while they are in the same room together. Never leave them by themselves.

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It is crucial that your dog considers you pack leader. This way, your dog will adhere to any unwanted behavior they show towards your newborn. Again, continue with positive reinforcement, punishment for growling or nipping will just increase the behavior.

For most, doggie and baby introductions can go smoothly. However, there are owners who have never had aggressive outbursts from their dog and finds this changed when their child arrives.

Don’t fret, your dog is just adjusting. Patience with your dog and help them to understand that baby is a new addition to your growing family. As long as you are there to watch and mediate, their love for each other will grow. Plus, there is nothing that will bring you more happiness than seeing your dog and child play together. Can you say pure joy?