Dogs who have no experience around babies are often confused and don't fully understand what the baby is. They may view her as a littermate or an extension of you, or they may ignore her until she starts crawling around. If you are pregnant, there are things you can do to prepare your dog for the new arrival, such as playing recordings of baby noises and bringing a blanket home from the hospital before your baby comes home. If your dog growls at a friend's baby, or a baby that is already in the home, it is important to intervene.
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Tip #1 - Supervise interactions closely. Never leave your dog and baby together unsupervised. It doesn't matter if they are both sound asleep and the baby is in her crib, someone needs to go with you when you leave the room.
Tip #2 - Provide your dog with plenty of exercise. With a new baby around, everyone's schedule changes. It is important to make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Pent-up energy, combined with your dog's concerns over the new arrival, can make him feel anxious. He may manifest his anxiety by feeling possessive of you, and dismayed at the amount of time you spend with the new addition.
Tip #3 - Encourage your dog to hang out with you and the baby. When you're sitting on the couch feeding the baby, pat your leg to encourage your dog to come over and sit or lay by you. Your invitation will help him feel included in the family.
Tip #4 - Correct grouchy behavior, reward good behavior. When your dog growls, give him a firm "no," but don't forget to reward good behavior as well. If he comes up while you are holding the baby and gently sniffs or licks the baby's feet, resist the urge to shoo him away. Give him a pat and tell him he's a good dog instead.
By Stephanie Dube Dwilson
About the Author
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.