Babies yell, kick, pinch, punch – it is their nature. Obviously, any rules which could be laid down regarding baby-pet relations will change from one dog to the other, and from one family situation to the next. Size, breed, age, and temperament of the dog are a variable. Is it a first kid? is it a sibling? The new baby’s temperament is also a major factor, although that will be much more crucial several months down the line. The main thing the dog needs to get used to before the baby shows up is probably touch-related, and a new lack of respect for his personal space. As early as you can in the pregnancy, make sure to touch your dog gently in areas which are more sensitive: ears, paws, face. Areas which you wouldn’t necessarily go for when petting.
Do this a bit, here and there, and do it while you are petting the pet normally. In time, increase the frequency. Your dog will be more used to it, and be more accepting of this invasion when the baby arrives. This is a new human, with a new scent, a new voice, and a body which occupies the dog’s space and time. It can be a rival in some dogs’ eyes, just like a big brother may feel frustrated due to the arrival of a new focal point. Some dog’s are more maternal by nature, and they realize with greater ease that this is a human puppy. Either way, all pets need to feel loved, and not be neglected. This is paramount, since cats and dogs and carnivores, and they will defend themselves or display antagonism if their needs aren’t being met.
*Do’s* – Do encourage sniffing and safe physical contact between the two. – Do notice your dog’s body language during those first meetings, and pay attention to nuances. – Do remember to meet your pet’s needs. Make some time just for your animal friend, and show it you care. *Don’ts* – Do not leave the baby and dog unattended. Always keep an open and watchful eye. Dogs, however cute, are still carnivorous. – Do not assume anything. Always stay close, physically close, especially during those first couple of months. – Do not force either one on the other. Let them be them. Their connection may take more time to form.
Bringing home a new baby will be an adjustment for everyone, but your dog needs special attention because of jealousy. It may even be worse than bringing home a baby to an older sibling. Yes the dog will end up loving the baby but it will take them a while to get used to the crying, the constant diaper changing, and not being able to cuddle up on your lap. You need to be extra careful with a dog. Especially a dog that thinks they’re a puppy. They may sit on the newborn and you definitely don’t want that. The baby will quickly get used to the dog just like they’ll quickly get used to living outside the womb.
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