Several evenings a week, I volunteer at the Naperville Humane Society.
It is a very sad and common request to be asked to rescue a dog because
there is a new baby in the house. One of the most frustrating things is
that in the majority of these cases, the dog had a problem before the baby
came and the owners didn’t do anything about it. So the poor dog is re-homed
needlessly when a bit of preparation would have prevented it.
It is a rare luxury in life to know in advance that a major change is going to
happen to your circumstances. In these cases, you have up to nine months
in which to prepare the dog. Please, do it!
The main points to consider:
The dog won’t be welcome to sleep on your bed or even in your bedroom.
you don’t want a dog who jumps on and off of the furniture when it pleases,
it could leap straight on top of the baby one day.
Your dog must be safe to take toys and chews from.
Your dog must respond to basic commands properly. You can’t be carrying a
baby around and have a dog who completely ignores you and won’t move out of your way.
A dog that jumps up at you could easily injure a carried baby.
Dogs must learn to “go away” on command so that they don’t come up to you when you have a baby on your knee and put a paw straight on top of the baby or drop a toy on it.
Dogs are scent oriented and fascinated by new smells. Send something home
from the hospital immediately that smells of the baby so that when the baby
actually comes, it isn’t so much of a novelty.
There are times when you might need to leave a room with the baby and leave the dog behind. Make sure your dog already accepts being left in one room whilst you are elsewhere in the house.
Allow the dog to inspect all the new items you bring home.
Common sense, really, but so many people just think of how pleasant their dog is, how sociable it is with kids, and forget the practicalities of having a dog and baby together. If your dog has any sort of temperament problem before your new baby comes, it will be much worse when there is a new baby in your home.
So use the luxury of knowing that baby is coming and be prepared. The dog will not understand that suddenly when you walk through the door with your baby he now cannot jump up at you or leap on the sofa.
Please don’t be afraid to ask for help. What puts a lot of owners off is asking for help when it has any sort of obedience problem. They fear being told to re-home the dog or put it to sleep. In fact, this is unlikely, but even if this is the outcome, you wouldn’t want to be responsible for ducking out on the issue now and then later your baby or dog pays the price.
At Perfect Manners Dog Training, we can help.