Bringing home a baby is a monumental event in most households. While many moms have carefully prepared (or tried to warn) siblings that a new little prince or princess will be arriving soon to take ownership of the bassinet, preparing the family dog, cat or any pet for the new arrival is also very important and many Circle of Moms community members like Keli, who has two dogs, have asked about the best protocol.
"I was wondering how your experiences are with your dogs when the baby got to be more mobile and grabby," she writes. "I'm more worried about when my baby gets pulling on hair and stuff. I won't be leaving them unattended but I do know the dog does not like her hair being tugged."
Circle of Moms member Bianca says she had to resort to the extreme of getting rid of her dog, an 11-month-old, 100 pound bulldog.
"It was very sad at first," she says. "If the dog is causing more stress, it is time to re-evaluate the situation. Bottom-line is, don't risk your baby for the dog."
I agree totally. As a mom of three kids, living in a house with two largish dogs – a Golden Retriever and a Chesapeake Bay retriever, I have a strict rule when babies and seniors (usually this means my 80-something mom) come over. I borrow baby gates and restrict our furry friends to the laundry room. They are loving, gentle dogs, but by their size alone, they could wipe a baby or an elderly person off their feet in a second.
Since I only need to relocate my pets sporadically (when babies, toddlers and senior citizens visit us), I turned to the advice of the guru of canine concerns: Cesar Millan, host of the National Geographic Channel's The Dog Whisperer.
I also checked in with The Humane Society of the United State's tips for introducing a new baby to the family pet. They recommend training the cat, dog or other pet to be well-behaved, but making sure the baby is never left unattended with any animal.
"Our dogs are very in tune with us, so with an event as monumental as a pregnancy, your dog has already sensed that something is up," Millan says on his website, Cesar's Way. "But just because she has picked up on the new feelings hanging in the air, doesn't mean that she understands what they mean. "
Millan's advice includes the three tips below as well as some straight talk on how to decide whether to find your dog a new home.
Spend the months before your baby's arrival training your dog – and hiring a professional if you need to, so that by the time you bring your baby home you are fully in control of a well-behaved dog who sees you as leader of his pack.
2. Establish Boundaries Around the Nursery
Keep the nursery off-limits. Condition your dog to understand that there is an invisible barrier that he may not cross without your permission.
3. Teach Your Child How to Interact with the Dog
Once your child is in the exploratory state, it is important to supervise all interactions between her and your pet. This is the moment to teach her not to bother the dog, yank his tail, etc.
(For Milan's full tutorial, visit his website.)
What tips do you have about introducing a newborn to the family pet?
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