People often assume that just because their dogs are generally friendly they will be fine when they introduce them to a baby. It’s important to understand that that’s not always the case. Kids and pets can get on really well together however we believe it’s important to follow some basic safety rules and respect your animal’s boundaries. We discourage people from giving up their pets when they welcome a newborn into their families. Here we collected some general safety tips that can help manage the shift in the home dynamic and create a safe environment for your pets and babies alike.
Before bringing a baby home it’s a good idea to focus on some basic training with your dog. It’s essential to stop begging behavior. This can result in your pet jumping on the baby to try to snatch that rogue biscuit. These situations can also escalate easily and can result in a bite.
You should also teach your pets to stay outside your child’s bedroom, they shouldn’t be allowed in there at all. It’s imperative, not just for safety but for cleanliness reasons as well. It’s ideal to start training well in advance of the baby’s arrival in order to keep your kids safe around dogs. (Under no circumstances should you move your dogs permanently outside.)
Start off slowly with the introduction. Say hello to your pet first without the baby being present. Wait until the dog calms down, leash them and get them in a seated position. Make sure you praise your pet during the introduction process. If you see any signs of over-excitement stop the process immediately and try to do the introduction in small increments over-time.
If your dog has been part of your family before your baby’s arrival make sure you include them in daily activities. This can often lead to jealousy. Don’t give more or less attention to your pet than before to avoid triggering unwanted behavioral patterns.
Keep an eye on the signs
Don’t ignore signs of stress. Most of your dog’s communication happens through body language. Licking their lips, flattening their ears and showing the whites of their eyes are all signs of stress. Learn to read your pet’s body language and pay attention to it. If your pet gets stressed out near your baby immediately remove them from the situation. Allow them to find an area where they can relax. If your pet is hiding, you should never allow your child near them. This is important to keep both your kids and your dogs safe.
Get everyone involved
If you have older kids, involve them in the care of your pet. This helps children learn a sense of responsibility and most pets enjoy the extra attention kids can provide.
Generic do’s and don’ts
Make sure to keep your pets away from your kids when they are overly excited. Some pets have a tendency to jump or play bite when excited. While an adult can usually handle this with ease a baby or a small child might end up frightened or even injured.
Don’t put the baby and the dog on the floor at the same time and under no circumstances should you leave them alone unsupervised.
Don’t let your pet lick the baby’s face. Kids’ immune systems are still developing and let’s face it our pets like to eat some nasty things from time to time, so let’s keep things hygienic.
Never let your baby approach your pet while it’s asleep, eating or holding something in its mouth. Make sure they don’t hit the animal, pull their fur, tail or ear. Teach older children not to run away from dogs, shout in their vicinity or make sudden movements as this can trigger negative reactions.
Under no circumstances should you or your child hug your pet. It’s a sign of affection for us, humans but animals have very different social behaviors. Most dogs who tolerate hugging have been conditioned from a young age to suppress their natural instinct and often freeze when hugged. Common signs of stress when being embraced are lip licking, panting, widened eyes and turning their heads away from you. A scratch behind the ear is a much safer way to interact with your pets and it will definitely be a lot more appreciated.
Your pets should not sleep in your child’s bed. Sometimes even the most gentle dogs can bite when they are startled awake. It’s probably best to keep your pets in a separate area during the night especially with a baby in the house.
This brings us to our next point, we recommend you to set up a quiet area for your pets where the kids are not allowed in! This should be a safe space for your pet where they can retreat if there is a lot going. This can happen a lot especially during the first few weeks of the baby’s arrival. Remember that a dog’s hearing is very sensitive. Kids can be loud and especially the little ones and it can easily stress out your furry family members. It’s important to give them somewhere quiet they can rest without any loud noises. Crate training your dog is a great way to tackle this issue!
Overall it’s necessary to train your pets acceptable behavior around your children but it’s equally important to teach your kids proper animal handling from a young age. This is essential in order to keep your kids safe around dogs especially if you share your home with pets.
Hopefully, you will find these safety tips helpful. As mentioned before we discourage giving up pets when you have a baby however we understand that sometimes things don’t work out in this case we encourage you to try rehoming your dog on your own and leave shelters and pounds as the absolute last resort.
Do you have some pets on your own? How did your pet react when you first introduced your child to them? Let us know down in the comments!