From time to time I get phone calls from new expectant mums and dads wanting advice on how to introduce the dog to the new baby, unfortunately I also get phone calls/emails from parents with babies/children who are experiencing some sort of worrying behaviour from their dog towards the infant.
One of my many mottoes in life is never put off something till tomorrow that can be done today!! And if the patter of tiny feet is not far away in your household, it’s much better to address any worries you might have with bringing baby and dog together now, than leave it until it’s a major concern.
The arrival of a new baby into the home can be quite a big thing to some dogs, all of a sudden there are new noises in the house as well as new smells and sometimes this change in the household can be quite daunting.
Making a few adjustments in the early days can make the transition of bringing baby and dog together run much more smoothly.
1) If your dog is not relaxed about having visitors in your home, bear in mind you will be having a few more once your baby is born and it might be a good idea to seek some professional advice on this one ASAP !
2) Does your dog jump onto your lap? Or jump around on the sofa?
It might be worth starting to put down a rule on this one now! Because you just might want some calm time when feeding or getting your baby off to sleep.
3) While your baby is still at the hospital bring home an item of his/ hers that has their scent on it for your dog to smell and become accustomed towards the new little person joining the household.
4) If you own a dog that you know is a little fearful around small children, seek professional help now on how to introduce/ manage babies and dogs, do not leave it until an incident arises.
5) Be aware of the anxious dog, look for the signs of him / her wanting to retreat elsewhere, yawning, licking lips or panting more than usual and take on board these warning signals….never force baby and dog together.
6) Finally and most importantly NEVER leave baby/ children unsupervised with a dog/ dogs. A dog is an animal and children are inquisitive and the combination of the 2 occasionally can have devastating results .
Generally I see lots of brilliant relationships between children and dogs, but if you think there could be difficulty introducing the 2 together always seek professional help sooner rather than later.