Contrary to myth and Hollywood movies, dogs don’t instinctively understand how precious babies are to us. To dogs, babies are strange at best and downright frightening at worst. Ask any dog. Babies make loud sudden noises, thrash about, smell weird, and hog all the attention.
Then there’s the profound change to your lifestyle and routine a baby brings. Who will walk the dog when you’ve been up all night feeding? Is Fido allowed on the couch now? For a stress-free transition, answer such questions and begin making preparations well before baby’s arrival.
Strengthen crucial baby-readiness manners:
(Not sure how to teach your dog these commands? Call a trainer.)
Gradually increase the time you leave your dog in his Safe Area (a closed-off area with his crate or bed, a water bowl, and some favorite toys). Give him a stuffed Kong and start with 10 minutes, then build from there to at least an hour.
Arrange for a dog walker (or doggie daycare, if your dog enjoys the company of other dogs). Lining up someone other than yourself to give your dog vigorous daily exercise during the first year of your baby’s life is an investment that pays off in spades: A better behaved dog, a calmer house, and peace of mind.
Arrange for a pet sitter to care for your dog while you’re in hospital.
No baby-dog solo time:
You can let your dog investigate baby, as long as baby is well swaddled. But never leave the two alone together. Not now, not down the road. Not until your child is big enough to wear sneakers and chew gum. The sweetest dog can spook and bite a baby, toddler, or young child. And children can unintentionally hurt dogs by grabbing their ears, eyes, or tails. Protect them both by keeping them apart when you can’t supervise.
Share the love:
Othello-like jealousy is a human foible, but your dog might form a negative association with baby if every time he comes close, someone yells, “No, down, get away!” Remember to give your dog attention, treats, and praise around baby.
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