Your dog and your new baby
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June 20th, 2006, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: The Lonestar State
I've posted this elsewhere... it's just a copy/paste ... so ignore anything that refers to a previous post ... I'm lazy!
I'd highly recommend taking a babies and dogs training class while you're pregnant! Ours was great.
(1) I agree with what she said - bring home a shirt the baby has worn for a whole day so that the dog is smelling the baby and not just the hospital. The only thing I would add is that it shouldn't be shoved in the dog's face ("here, sniff this!"). It should be hanging from your husband's back pocket or belt loop or whatever and just left there. That way the dog gets used to the scent WITHOUT thinking the shirt is being given to him as a toy (thus, making the baby a toy).
(2) Include the dog in EVERYTHING! When you take the baby out in the stroller, take the dog as well. When you're feeding the baby, you should also feed or play with the dog. We went to a dogs & babies behavioral class when I was pregnant. The instructor said that for the first few weeks, stop feeding your dog once or twice per day as you have been. Feed the same "amount," but break it up into 10-12 tiny feedings so that the dog is fed every time the baby is fed. It's not only positive reinforcement, but the dog understands that you're not unjustly giving attention to the baby... you're FEEDING the baby.
(3) While holding the baby, YOU pet the dog. Slowly (which may mean 2 minutes or 2 months!) begin allowing your dog to sniff the baby, followed by you petting the dog with the baby's hand, followed by the baby petting the dog him/herself. Luckily a JRT is a short-haired dog. When babies get to the hair pulling stage, some frighten or even hurt smaller breeds and can cause the dog to lash out. Keep a close eye out for anything the dog might not like, and immediately move the baby away. This teaches the dog that you'll protect him, and teaches the baby (or toddler for that matter), that the behavior wasn't appropriate and won't be tolerated.
(4) Noise! If your dog is used to a quiet house, start making noise now. That might mean leaving the t.v. on, playing a cd of a crying baby, or whatever. Leave lights on randomly throughout the night, too. As for the baby, from day one, you should have the t.v. on, run the vacuum, let the dog bark/play, etc. The baby will get used to having noise around and won't wake up every time the doorbell rings or everytime you run to walmart.
(5) Initial introduction - When you enter the house, you're on the dog's territory with a new pack member. They must be properly introduced and put into place or the dog will try to dominate the baby. Walk in as you normally would without making a big fuss ("oooh! look at the baaaaby!" - NO). Sit on the floor with the baby and/or lay the baby on a blanket on the floor. (If you have a c-section, your hubby will have to do the introduction. It's really better if you do it though.) Let the dog sniff to his heart's content. Greet the dog without acknowledging the baby's presence (except for protection of course), so that your full attention is on the dog.
(6) After all is said and done, the baby is 4-6 months old and learning to roll/crawl. They're the best of friends, yada, yada, yada. Now is the turning point: NEVER leave your baby alone with the dog. When the baby becomes mobile, it's a whole new ball game! The dog will see the baby as either a puppy or a lump on a log at first and learn to ignore everything. When the baby becomes mobile, he/she can very easily annoy or even hurt a dog. The dog might get up and walk away. That's great. Many times they'll put a paw on the baby's hand or back to assert domination. Not only does the baby not understand pack mentality, but a dog's rough paw pads and/or claws can hurt the baby. If the dog doesn't want to play but the baby does, just as in the wild, he'll give a "gentle" snap/bite...which isn't so gentle on a baby's skin. 'Innocent' gestures from the dog can hurt the baby and vice versa. It's just best not to leave them alone until at LEAST 2 yrs old or so (and even then you should be in the next room and not across the house).
(7) When the baby becomes a toddler or young child, the dog might again try to show some dominance (by jumping up or whatever... that's fine for adults, but can severely hurt a child if he's knocked over into a table or something). Have the child feed the dog. First, the dog learns that he won't eat unless he's nice to this member of the pack, and second, the child learns responsibility. It's exactly the same for a husband/wife if the dog obeys one and not the other. The weaker member of the pack should be the food provider.
Thanks to tasha_mae for my siggy!
"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.
If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." ~Albert Einstein
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