According to recent statistics, over 63 million households in the United States have at least one dog. Many couples have a dog prior to having children, with most saying their dog “is their kid!”
Of course, many people will eventually go on to have children, and introducing a new family member to the mix will mean big changes for everyone. This is why taking the time to prepare your dog in advance is essential to a smooth transition and a happy family.
Preparing Your Dog For a New Family Member
Start to prepare before the baby is born, the sooner the better!
Obedience training is always important, but never more so than now. Laying the groundwork in advance will not only help when the baby comes, but it will also strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
If you are unable to get to a class, you can teach your dog the basics at home. A simple google search will provide lots of info on easy to learn verbal commands, and how to use positive reinforcement to implement them.
If you have friends and/or family with young children, ask them to help! Set up some times when you and your dog can hang out with them. This can get your dog more acquainted with the sounds of kids.
Just the sounds of a newborn will help acclimate your dog to the new family member, and when it’s safe and appropriate, allowing them to be in the room with the baby can help the process.
Understand that your dog may be used to a certain amount of attention that they may not get when the baby comes home, especially in the beginning. Setting aside some time just for your dog will let them know they are still important and loved.
Introducing Your Dog To Your New Baby
In the beginning, even if you are positive your dog would never bite anyone, never leave your baby unattended with your dog, and always use safety measures like gates or barricades.
If possible, using a leash can be an even better option! It can be tied to something, or held by someone, and it’s a great way to safely make your dog feel included, especially those who are fearful of gates, and may feel further excluded when they are locked out of the room.
Nipping, biting, or aggressive behavior towards a child is the number one reason dogs end up in shelters, which is why taking proper safety measures is incredibly important.
Major changes in routine can cause immense stress for dogs. No matter how loving and gentle they are, they may act out in ways you never expected. Even if your dog has never shown any aggression, it’s important to know that stress and fear can cause a change in behavior, and underestimating this is irresponsible.
Sadly, when dogs are given up for this type of behavior, they are often euthanized, and had the proper planning and necessary precautions been taken in the beginning, the majority of these dogs would have adjusted and adapted just fine.
Tips For Teaching Your Children How To Interact With Dogs
Babies don’t stay babies forever, and before you know it, they’re on the go! Once children become mobile, it’s time to start teaching them about interacting safely with dogs. And of course, always supervise and closely monitor all interactions.
Here is some important information to teach your child about dogs:
- The proper way to pet a dog and to always be gentle.
- Never pull their tail or tease them.
- Do not forcefully hug or squeeze a dog.
- Refrain from kissing or putting your face in the dog’s face.
- Never interrupt a dog while they are eating or sleeping.
- When around other dogs, never approach them without explicit consent from their owner and from you.
- Always allow the dog to approach first and extend your hand in a fist for them to smell.
- How to read dog body language and what it means, especially freezing or looking stiff.
There is no doubt that growing up with a dog has a positive impact on children in many ways.
Whether it’s indoor or backyard play, daily walks, or weekend outings, dogs encourage families to be more active together!
Dogs teach children about patience and responsibility, and about compassion and kindness.
The bond between a child and a dog is often very strong and can provide a sense of security and even instill confidence, which is why they are used therapeutically in many settings that involve children.
Whether you’re teaching children to interact with dogs, or dogs to interact with children, it’s helpful to remember that dogs and children have many things in common! Both are innately eager to please, both excel when provided proper boundaries, predictability, and positive reinforcement, and both thrive in a loving and happy home.
Every Sale Supports a Shelter Pet. Learn More.
Made in Vermont. Learn More.