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How to Introduce a New Baby to the Family Dog

Prepare your family dog for the newborn baby

Dogs are basically social creatures and they belong to packs.  Your dog belongs to your family, whom he considers a pack, and whom he has to follow.  You must be in a position to communicate with him, understand and respect him and read his body language.

First of all it is important for you to prepare your family dog for the baby that will be arriving soon.  Start by teaching him commands, if you haven’t done so already.  Shower a lot of praise and positive reinforcement every time he obeys your commands.

Use some creative methods to get your dog familiar with a baby.  You could just use some dolls dressed in the baby’s clothes, have a baby carriage in the house and wheel it around.  Maybe you can even get tapes of babies crying, so that your dog gets familiar with the sound.

If your dog has a habit of jumping on people, just start training him not to jump.  It may cause serious injuries to the baby if your dog begins to jump on it.  The dog may not mean to hurt, he is just happy to see you, but teach him to sit and not jump.

[caption id="attachment_1304" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="New baby and family dog"]dog baby family puppy[/caption]

Often dogs guard food, bones, balls or toys and anyone who attempts to take them away from him may face a baring of teeth or growling.  Probably he does not do it to you, but for your baby, it is a risk, because the dog might just snap at the baby’s fingers or toes.  Train the dog that growling and guarding objects are unacceptable behavior, and if necessary you can take the help of a professional trainer to retrain your dog.

Once the baby arrives bring home a blanket or a towel used by the baby, which has not been washed.  Let your dog get familiar with the scent and encourage him when he investigates the scent.  Use positive phrases to show that you are also excited about bringing the baby home.

When mother and baby arrive home, the mother should greet the dog without the baby.  Obviously he will sniff her and then he will also pick up the baby’s scent.  Keep a close watch on him.  Let the dog be on a leash and make him sit down, praising him and talking to him all the time.  Let the dog come closer to the baby, and if he is calm, you can even allow him to walk loose and do his bit of sniffing again.

After frequent sessions of this exercise, your dog will get familiar with the baby, but you should never leave him alone with the baby.  The dog may unintentionally hurt the baby, because it cannot gauge its own strength and may just be excited and jump on the baby.
Remember to give some time to your dog every day without the presence of the baby.  Continue to play with him like throwing his favorite toy, but no violent games like tug of war or wrestling.  You must always be the leader in the game with your dog.

By and by introduce the presence of the baby at the time you are having fun with the dog.  Just be relaxed and happy, and the dog will also reciprocate. It is lovely for children to be growing up with dogs and make it a happy experience for both of them by careful planning, training and awareness.

Photo source:worldinfo2010.blogspot.com

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