Introducing babies to dogs, or vice versa!
A topic on our collective minds lately is the process needed for introducing a new member to the family. Whether you are bringing your newborn home from the hospital, or introducing a 4-legged friend when infants/young children are in the home.... here is our take on the best way to go about it.
To start, any major life change such as a new family addition, requires time to adjust and adapt for all involved. This holds true for new dogs and babies. So, our first tip is to prepare to have a period of adjustment. Be ready to establish a "safe space" for the dog to go during emotionally tense moments (i.e. baby screaming, dog howling, mom crying, & dad snoring on the couch.... 🙄🙄🤭🤭 OK, just kidding about that last bit...) and make sure that doggie as well as other household members respect the boundaries set in place. It may take a couple months for things to fully settle down. Try to remember that this is normal and taking your time to introduce little by little is the wisest, safest plan! That's tip 2, by the way, introducing baby & dog just a little at a time. Let the dog sniff baby's clothes, and hear the baby from a separate room. Later you can show baby from one side of a gate, and eventually sit nearby while holding the baby-- so and and so forth until you feel the two are completely comfortable around each other. If you are trainer savvy, you can even add positive reinforcement for doggo when baby is around. Tip 3 is to try using a clicker and treats when calm, positive interactions occur. Some parents have even went so far as to put little treats on baby to further encourage touching. An example would be a spot of peanut butter on baby's foot for licking. 👣👣 Definitely only do this with calm dogs that won't gobble baby up (haha) or accidentally bite, though. Tip 4 is an added thought-- if you can get your pupper into obedience training BEFORE baby is due, it can help tremendously and save much confusion. Especially for behaviors that you might not think of concerning originally, like jumping up to meet parents at the door, or bounding up onto mommy or daddy's lap. These are sweet, loving gestures-- but after baby comes it could be dangerous. A further early-exposure option can be: regularly taking your dog to parks to sit near children laughing, yelling, running, etc. that way he/she can begin acclimating to the sight and sound months prior to introductions. Lastly, try to eliminate points of conflict. Make sure that baby and dog eat in completely separate locations; make sure each has their own distinct toys. And when baby gets old enough, make sure baby knows how to be gentle, and give soft pets. Grabbing tails and pulling fur can set off even the kindest dog-- because it hurts! The best case scenario here is to always supervise, don't leave the child and pup unattended, and be sure to model kind, soft behavior for baby to see and mimic! :) We love babies of all kinds.... two-legged, four-legged, furry or no... and hope this post will help you integrate your newest family members easily. Thanks for reading!