How to Introduce Your High-Energy Dog to a New Baby
When it comes to high-energy dogs, they can sometimes be unpredictable and in certain circumstances, dangerous. Of course most dogs are friendly and just want to play, but the situation becomes dangerous when newborns or small children are involved. The introduction of a new baby to your dog is very important and must be taken very seriously. It is important to take the necessary steps to provide the safest possible environment for the interaction. These steps can help build a positive relationship between your dog and the new baby that will last many years in the future. By taking the steps early, you can ensure that your dog and your baby will have a long happy life in the same household. Here is a how-to guide when it comes to introducing your high-energy dog to babies:
- Start planning early
If you know you are having a newborn coming into your life soon, remember to start making changes early on so your dog does not relate the new environment and changes with the baby and cause resentment. This means moving a dogs bed or toys to a new location, or changing your dogs daily routine. This also includes exposing your dog to baby noises early on so they are familiar with the sounds when the real baby comes. Play recordings of babies crying, laughing, babbling and any other noises that you think will help your dog easily adjust to the new noises that will begin happening in their environment. In addition to sounds, smells are important to get your dog use to as well. This includes dirty diapers, baby powder, baby food. Also have a family member bring home a blanket that the baby used in the hospital in order for your dog to smell it and get acclimated to the baby's scent before you actually bring them home.
2. Monitor all interactions
This is especially important when you first bring your baby home. Every interaction needs to be monitored closely and it is recommended you keep your dog on a leash at first in order to have a quick ability to pull your dog away if needed. These interactions should be natural, do not force your dog to make contact with the baby as this might stir up frustration in your dog and therefore cause a dangerous situation. If your dog wants to approach the baby, allow them and make sure it is a monitored and safe environment. Once you think the dog is used to the baby, you can begin off leash interaction that is still monitored. This will allow your dog to be more comfortable in the presence of your baby rather than always having the restrained.
3. Don't forget about your dog
It is important that you make sure to continue to give your dog a lot of attention when the new baby arrives. Your dog is used to being the number one attention receiver in the family and if you ignore them when the new baby arrives, it will quickly lead to resentment in your dog and cause them to be aggressive toward the baby. By giving equal attention to your dog, it will allow for a easier transition period for your dog and they will have a much easier time being friendly and excited about the new baby. This includes frequent walks, playtime, cuddling, and treats. Try to keep your dogs routine as normal as possible so they do not feel left out in anyway. This can be tough to do with a newborn in the same household but it is a very important step and can cause lasting consequences if not remembered.
4. Positive Reinforcement Always
If your dog begins to get curious about the baby's toys, blankets, or clothes, do not scold them for sniffing or playing with these items. If you associate negative actions with the smell of the new baby, your dog will begin to connect your baby with negative thoughts and actions. This will cause more resentment and more dangerous situations in the future when your dog and your baby are together. If you dog seems curious about the baby's items, try petting them and positively reinforcing them being interested in the baby. Make sure all interactions that have to do with the baby's scent are positive and allow the dog to feel comfortable in the presence of that scent.
5. Continue monitoring into older years
Once your baby turns into a toddler, it is important to continue constant monitoring or your baby and your dog. This is because toddlers can become more unpredictable and can easily upset your dog. Some things to watch out for is your toddler pulling on your dogs ears, hitting your dog, throwing things at your dog, or scaring your dog. These things can quickly lead to aggressive behavior as a response from your dog. This will create a dangerous situation and can make all the hard work you did with their relationship mean nothing because your dog will quickly resent the baby and the relationship can be ruined.
6. Create a safe space for your dog
This could be a room or a area that is gated off where your dog can go to have to have time away from the baby when it seems like tensions are beginning to rise. Make this space fun with toys and treats so that your dog does not feel like he is being punished when he is put in his safe space. This area is useful when there are times where you cannot monitor the baby and the dog at the same time. This will ensure the safety of the baby and the dog while you are busy with other things.
These steps are not only important for when you first bring your baby home, but it is also important to keep up these ideas into your child's later years as well. It can take one small slip up to harm the relationship between your dog and your new baby. These steps are a good start to allowing your new baby and your dog to live the best possible lives under the same roof.
© 2017 Emma Kelley