For many, dogs are part of the family but when it comes to bringing a new baby into the household there is a certain protocol that should be followed to ensure baby safety.
Even if your dog has a calm temperament, it is never advised to have the animal get close to a newborn. On the other hand, if a dog has ever shown intolerance towards small animals, people, or children than parents and guardians must keep a very watchful eye to make sure the household remains calm and protected.
Many families, who mean well, make the mistake of allowing their dog to smell the newborn. Dogs have an exceptional olfactory sensation so the need to smell the baby “close up” isn’t needed. Nor is it recommended.
“Families want to make certain that their dog has solid obedience training and need to reinforce it with positive things such as treats and toys when asking commands such as sit and go to your bed or lie down,” said a spokesperson for Performance K9 Training in San Diego County. “Like we train all our clients, the balance of guidance and reward is essential.”
A crate is an important tool in the household, as well. Dogs who are crate trained instinctively find it a place of peace and quiet. Promoting the positivity of a crate includes feeding a dog their treats and meals in there.
Also, before putting your dog in a crate, toss in a couple small treats to show the dog it is a happy place.
“It’s best to keep the crate in the quietest part of the house so when your baby cries it doesn’t increase your dog’s drive with whining and barking,” said the spokesperson. “Depending on your dog’s diet, we often suggest giving dogs a Kong with treats or other types of food toys that mimic this ‘keep busy’ effect.”
Dog professionals also agree to keep dogs out of an infant’s bedroom.
“Parents and siblings should only be allowed in a newborn’s bedroom. It’s important to reinforce these rules so your dog understands that entering the room unacceptable,” she said.
And above all, never leave a dog and a baby alone.
As months pass on, and parents feel it’s appropriate for an introduction, do so, with a leash on the dog. The leash will give the pet owner the control it needs during this time. And remember, do not allow your dog to pull on the leash. Instead, keep your dog calm at all times and gently praise your dog for a job well done.
“Never rush an introduction between a dog and a baby; we know some parents who have waited until their baby was a year or older,” said the spokesperson. “The best advice is to use your common sense and make sure the timing is suitable and safe for your baby.”