Your pet dog can be the most treasured thing in your life until the arrival of a baby when many dogs and other pets can be ‘pushed out’.
This transferral of attention can upset many dogs, which often form a strong bond with their owners. Some dogs, although rare, can show signs of aggression and even attack a baby due to feelings of resentment towards its owner’s new ‘favourite’. So just how do you introduce your dog to your baby?
According to David McDowell, an animal behaviour expert and RSPCA officer, most attacks made by dogs on a baby happen within the first few days and even hours of a baby arriving home. “If you’re not careful, your dog will quickly associate your baby with being booted out of the room and having its routine disrupted,” advices David McDowell.
How you introduce your dog to your baby, and augmenting a ‘routine’ that involves both your baby and your dog, is therefore important.
* When you first bring your baby home from the hospital ensure to make a fuss of your dog without the baby being present. Keep them in different rooms for the first couple of hours so that your dog gets used to the smell and sounds of the baby.
* When you do introduce them visually, put a lead on your dog and sit him close to the baby, gradually bringing him closer. Let your dog study your child and even have a sniff.
* Be sure to give your dog plenty of attention and praise when he has ‘been good’ around the baby.
* Keep repeating these ‘quiet times’ where your dog adjusts to the baby’s presence for the first few days.
* Whilst you will have a million and one more things to do now your little one has arrived, it is important not to ‘neglect’ – not deliberately – your dog’s needs. Make sure you take your dog for the same amount of walks that he used to have. Pushing the pram to the park on your dog’s walk can be a good way to help develop a bond between your dog and your baby.
* Once you are happy that your dog has ‘accepted’ the baby, you can unleash him, although never leave them alone together in a room for several weeks even months.