Before you have your baby, realize that your dog’s temperament will not change once your child comes home. A dog that does not like children will not automatically like yours because he realizes you gave birth to him. Your dog will not realize, he can no longer sleep in your bed, or chew his bone on your couch. You must instill a new order way before your child comes home.
Before The Baby Comes
Make sure to get your dog used to a new feeding, walking and exercising schedule before you bring your baby home. This schedule must be realistic for a new born child. It also might be wise to hire a dog walker to come a few times a day so your dog gets used to this new person who will exercise and/or care for him.
Start a training program immediately. If you haven’t done any training this is important. Teach no pulling, jumping, off, leave it and drop it. All important commands for when the baby arrives.
If you have allowed your dog to be on the furniture, now is the time to retrain him. Buy a nice new bed for your dog and have one for your bedroom and one for the living room. Giving him a nice, enjoyable bone on that bed so he learns to associate it with good things. Once the baby is born it will be too dangerous for the dog and child to be on the furniture together; your dog may accidentally scratch the baby.
Acclimate your dog to the sounds and smells of a baby. Cd’s and dolls can be purchased to make the sounds, buy baby powder, diapers, etc. Allow your dog to investigate the smells of the baby powder and diapers.
Bring a blanket home from the hospital and allow your dog to smell it.
Make sure you make arrangements in advance for your dog to receive exercise and play while you are in the hospital and upon returning home with the baby.
Have your dog on a leash and training collar when you come home from the hospital. If at all possible, have someone else bring your baby in so you can say hello to your dog. Don’t ask him questions or get him too excited, you should come in calm and quiet so your dog calms quickly. If he has had enough exercise this should happen quickly.
Allow your dog to smell your baby through the crib not while sitting on your lap. He can take in the smell of the baby without climbing all of him or you. Your dog should not be able to reach the baby.
It is instinctual in dogs with a litter of puppies to not allow another dog to approach the puppies. She would growl and protect her puppies, the growl means, they are mine stay away. And instinctually, most dogs move cautiously when they hear puppies growling for fear the ‘mama is coming’. This is the perception you need to give with your baby. Your dog’s nose can smell the baby from far away; there is no reason for him to approach your baby. Make sure your dog believes that you are a female dog protecting her litter. Again, this behavior around puppies is instinctual so it should be an easy transition to your human baby. Make sure your dog realizes this is your baby. When you don’t want him to sniff or approach the baby when you are feeding, changing, etc., send him to his new bed that you purchased for him.
Make corrections immediately if the dog exhibits bad behavior. This is not the time to reason with your dog. The alpha would react immediately.
If you are alone in the house, it is ok to restrain the dog by use of baby gates or his crate. Again, you must make sure he receives enough mental and physical stimulation in the form of exercise.
The dog should not approach the baby while he is eating. That is disrespect in the dog world and your dog is disrespecting the child. He can clean the floor once the baby is done and removed from the feeding area.
Supervise at all times. Do not leave your dog and child alone in the same room. If the baby is sleeping, make the dog follow you.
Food and treats should be given in a room that the baby is not in. Pick up all dog toys and bone and give them in a separate room or the dogs crate.
SUPERVISION! At all times.
Make sure the child is not crawling on the dog. No hugging or kisses from your child. Read my article Children and Dogs for information on the growing child and how to teach your child to respect your dog.
This is your baby, not your dog’s. Set the rules immediately when he is allowed to approach the baby and when he is not. You have 8-9 mos to train your dog before your child is born; if you haven’t done so already. Make sure he realizes he is the dog and not another child; this way he will understand his place in your home.
Bringing a baby into your house means change. Initially, your dog may have his nose out of joint as he adjusts to these changes and to the new presence in the house. However, dogs instinctively prefer being part of a group. If you continue your strong leadership, Fido the First will soon realize that the new puppy or dog is part of his pack—a pack that is now bigger and better!