Canines and Cradles – Prepare your Dog for the Baby on the Way

Many people worry about having a baby when they already own a dog. I can’t count the number of times people ask about our dogs and the new baby. Seeing our newborn with even our small dog raises concerns, not to mention our big Labrador.

“Won’t the dog bite the baby?”

” Won’t the baby get diseases from the dogs?”

” What if the dog gets in the baby’s bed at night?”

I know these are valid concerns that new parents have. I firmly believe that anyone with dogs should socialize them as soon as possible. Dogs should know how to behave around senior citizens and babies as they need specific care. If a dog is socialized then a new baby is nothing more than another member of the family. The family unit or pack is very important to a dog. All that needs to be done is to prepare the dog for the coming of the new baby.

I began buying items for our new baby and I always showed the dogs everything for the baby and used the word “baby” all the time.

” This is for the baby, Chester.”

” Don’t touch Chester it’s for the baby.”

Every single piece of clothing, baby toy and gear was looked over, sniffed and then accepted. I was never concerned my dogs would be traumatized by or vicious towards children. I was merely preparing them for what was to come. Sort of a doggy heads up! 

When my sister-in-law would visit with her small baby I continued to use the word baby and let them see her. I made sure they were relaxed if she cried and helped them realized that a baby is not a problem. When everyone went home I would ask the dogs, “Where’s the baby? Where’s the baby?” Panda and Chester would run around looking for the baby as if they had misplaced it!

Friends and family visit us and we try to let the dogs be with us as much as possible. No one yells at the dogs when they sniff the babies or walk by them. If any of our guests don’t want a dog touching their baby we simply say, “No. Out.” There is no anger. Just a simple command like sit or stay.

Once our baby arrived I didn’t distance myself from the dogs. As soon as I was able to go out in the yard I took the baby and sat in a chair in the sunshine. The dogs were so excited to have me back and then they became very interested in the new little person. Our little dog became instant security to see what I was doing, where I was going and what had made the baby cry? Our big, friendly, over the top excitable Labrador was in that instant calm and just sat next to me for an hour. He felt that is where he should be. I was so proud of them. I never had any fear they would harm the baby. I know my Labrador is big and his tail is a weapon when he is happy and our little dog likes to jump up on people. These are all things I have to take care with but they are not problems. The job as a mother and a dog owner is to watch the children and the dogs so that neither does something to create problems. 

As far as germs, I am not fearful. I grew up with all kinds of animals and was always told to go outside and play. I also had to wash my hands before meals but we never had hand sanitizers. I am not concerned about my children getting diseases from our pets. Of course, there can be fleas, ticks or worms but we vaccinate our animals and keep them clean. So, yes, I allow my children to hug, run with and be best friends with the dogs. I am not in anyway worried about their health. A birthday party full of one-year-old toddlers has more germs, in my opinion. That being said I try to teach my dogs manners, because not everyone wants a kiss from our overly friendly lab.

Lastly, everyone is concerned about a newborn baby sleeping in its bed while a dog could jump in the bed with it and smother it. I will admit that if you let your dogs on the furniture and you allow your baby to sleep on your bed or anywhere without railings, you may end up with a doggy-baby slumber party. This is through no fault of the dog though. Our dogs, no matter if there is a small baby in the house or not are never allowed on the furniture. This has nothing to do with them being vicious or harming someone. It is telling them that the furniture is ours and we are in charge. Well- trained, loved dogs will want to please their owners. If you teach them to stay off the furniture then all furniture is off limits. This includes the baby’s crib too.

This is not all about the dogs though. My children have learned from the beginning that we should love and care for animals. They know we don’t hit or kick any animal. Even now with my little baby, he is learning how to pet the dogs and not hit them.

Treat your dogs with love and respect. Show them what you expect of them. When you are around babies or small children be positive and loving towards your dogs. Dogs will then recognize a baby as a positive idea and be open towards the new family member. If your entire family, humans and dogs, live together in harmony then the atmosphere in the home will be calm and loving.

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