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Dogs and Babies: 8 Tips for a Smooth Coexistence!

Dogs and Babies 8 Tips for a Smooth Coexistence! (1) (1)

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When a child arrives, it’s a significant change in a couple’s life. But your loyal dog must also adjust to this newcomer, who might be noisy and clumsy, but is so endearing! Dogs and babies often get along splendidly, but following these tips will ease daily life in your household, ensuring both your child and pet coexist harmoniously.

1. Preparing Your Dog for a Newborn’s Arrival Use the 9 months of pregnancy to prepare your dog for the new addition to the family. Dogs are astute; they sense changes. Has your pet become more affectionate, protective, or anxious? These signs indicate they know something’s up. Involve your pet in preparations for the baby’s arrival to help with acceptance. Teach them new behaviors to ensure they act appropriately when the baby comes. For example, if you set up a nursery, train your dog to wait at the door until allowed in. If your dog hasn’t interacted with children, help them socialize by visiting playgrounds or school exits.

    2. Familiarizing Your Dog with New Smells and Sounds While you might adore a newborn’s scent, to a dog, it’s just a new smell. And instinctively, anything new could be perceived as a threat. Show your dog items bought for the baby: toys, clothes, blankets, etc. One tip: let the dog sniff the baby’s used clothing while you’re still in the hospital. This familiarizes the dog with the baby’s scent. Furthermore, as a baby’s cries can reach 100 decibels, play recordings of baby cries to prep your dog.

    3. Never Leave a Child Unsupervised with a Dog After introductions, always supervise interactions for the first few months. Both babies and animals can be unpredictable. Watch their behaviors to prevent accidental harm or mutual fright.

    4. Set Clear Behavior Rules for Your Dog Around the Baby Your dog should understand that they:

    • Shouldn’t lick the baby’s face.
    • Shouldn’t lay on the baby as they might with you.
    • Shouldn’t bark or paw aggressively near the baby.
    • Can sit or lie near the baby’s crib or playpen.
    • Must treat the baby gently. Teach these rules calmly but firmly. Positive reinforcement techniques can speed up the learning process.

    Dogs and Babies 8 Tips for a Smooth Coexistence! (2) (1)

    5. Designate Separate Spaces for Both Though interaction is good, your dog needs their own space to rest and retreat: a bed, cushion, or kennel. While a dog’s barking might scare a baby, a baby’s crying can also stress out a pet.

    6. Ensure Your Dog Gets Enough Attention and Exercise With a newborn, your priorities shift, but you must still spend quality time with your dog: walks, playtime, and affection. Walks, in particular, can be calming for the whole family.

    7. Teach Young Children How to Treat the Family Dog Teach your baby to:

    • Gently pet the dog without pulling its fur.
    • Avoid sensitive areas like ears, eyes, and tail.
    • Let the dog eat, drink, and rest without disturbance.
    • Never hit or use the dog as a toy. This instills respect for living beings.

    8. Monitor Your Pet for Stress Signs and Don’t Force Interactions Stay alert to your pet’s behavior. If they exhibit unusual behavior (excessive licking, frequent barking, loss of appetite), give them some space from the baby. Never force them together, especially just for a photo op.

    NOTE: Which dog breeds are best with children? Some breeds are notably more patient with kids: Beagles, German Shepherds, Boxers, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers.

    To welcome your baby in the best way, strengthen the bond with your pet during pregnancy and involve them in this life change. Each dog, baby, and parent is unique. Consult a veterinarian or canine behaviorist if you have questions or concerns.

    mahatma gandhi portrait

    - Mahatma Gandhi

    “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”