Thursday, November 21, 2013

What to Expect When Your Expecting, With A Dog

So what's cuter than a baby and a dog?  Not much really.  It's great when they get along just fine from the get go.  The problem is that is not always the case.  Especially if you had the dog first.

I have had this question a few times, and it always goes something like this: "We just had a new baby and the dog is acting like he/she wants to bite it, or is growling at it.  We are not sure what to do, can you help?"

Why do dogs not always seem to share our overwhelming joy in the new addition? I have to say, for many, many reasons.
First of all, a lot of the time your dog has had your undivided attention, and now he doesn't.

Second, babies make a lot of unexpected loud noises and disrupt everyday life, as they knew it.  You had at least 7 months to mentally prepare yourself (most of the time), and you still struggle with it.  Expecting your dog to take to it all without a hitch is like expecting you to welcome the burglar in your house to becoming a roommate.

Thirdly babies smell different, dogs don't see them as small humans, they see them as a strange alien animal they haven't seen before.  They move in jerky motions, and jerky stiff, motions to dogs mean that the animal giving the signals are feeling aggressive.

Given that information, put yourself in their shoes.  What would you do if an alien burglar decided to make himself at home in your house?  What if your spouse didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with it?  Would you feel the need to protect everyone in the house from it, or at least yourself?

Now, how to help your dog understand, or at least feel more comfortable with this new strange addition.  If you have yet to have your new bundle of joy arrive, find a place that you can bring your dog that you know has babies.  Maybe have a friend or relative come around with theirs.  As your dog comes around just for checking things out, click and treat.  The goal here is to make your dog think that these weird alien things are cool treat dispensers.

If you have already brought the new baby home and are dealing with the fall out, please keep the dog away from the baby at first.  Bring out some of the babies clothes or blanket that the baby has been wrapped up in. Click for investigating the clothes. Once you have the dog happily sitting when you bring out baby smelling items, then you can move on to bringing out the baby, wrapped up in a blanket that your dog is used to smelling.  At first you are going to want to stand while holding the baby out of reach, while having someone else click and treat your dog for good behavior while the baby is out.  You can gradually lower the baby as long as the dog remains happy and does not close his mouth or freeze.  If you see any of those behaviors please remove the baby or stand up so the dog becomes comfortable again.  It will take every dog their own pace at learning to accept a strange new member of the family.  Don't rush them.  Ever.  That will only be putting the baby in harms way.

Tips for toddlers.  Please don't allow your toddler to pull lips, poke eyes, or bounce on your dog.  While your dog may tolerate this behavior for the time being, you never know when the time will come that your dog will decide that it is done being tolerable.  Teach your children from an early age to treat the furry members of the family with respect.  Your dog may tolerate such behavior, but other dogs may not.  So when visiting other dogs that will only put your child at risk.

I love seeing well adjusted furry and non furry siblings playing together.  I just don't want to hear sad stories of families having to rehome, or worse, having to put their dog down because it bit the baby.  Remember there is more at stake here than just a little nip.  Lives really are on the line.


  1. Thanks for sharing this post, I am also agree with this post, Please share more about it, Good luck!!!!Puppy school Auckland

  2. Thank you! I will try to post more soon!