For many people a dog was their first baby and it shows. We're talking squeaky toys, raw hide chews, and "spaw" days for their precious fur child. So when a human baby makes their debut it can be a challenging transition for everyone in the family. When your pup gets kicked off the literal and proverbial lap, they can display some pretty puzzling behaviors. Fortunately, there are experts to help decode the weird things dogs do around new babies and why.
Reddit user and certified dog trainer wttttcbb recently set up a question and answer segment in which dog owners and prospective and/or current parents could get advice related to dogs and kids. For two hours users shared their canine behavior concerns, which ranged from the mild to the severe. Overall they were reassured that, with a little help and understanding, their beloved Max/Spike/Buddy would do just fine with the newest addition.
I had my mini-Schnauzer for three years before I had my daughter. Honestly, he was doing bizarre stuff way before she came around. Poor little guy had to wear a box muzzle (think Hannibal Lecter) to keep him from eating rocks after he had surgery as a result of consuming too many non-food items. My partner and I very carefully introduced him to our newborn daughter. He put his paws on my legs to see her better and wagged his little nubbin as we told him, "This is your baby." Overall, he's been gentle and patient, but he also tries to "herd" her.
Dogs are freaking weird, man, and nothing brings out the weird quite like a new baby. Thank goodness for dog whisperers like this particular kind and informative Reddit user, who can not only make sense of some odd dog behaviors, but can provide parents with the tools to fix them.
They Get Depressed
When they suddenly can't get your attention on demand, it can give a dog a real case of the sads. This trainer suggests making a list of their favorite things and working those in throughout the day to keep them mentally and physically well. One thing to try? Stuffing their Kong in different ways. Who knew?
They Lick Bare Skin
Nothing more delicious, amirite? Gross. I mean, I like puppy kisses, but I don't necessarily want a mouth that sometimes eats its own poop all over my newborn. So what's to be done? Teach them "leave it." Alternately, you can use your body to block the dog from approaching the baby until they give up and move on.
They Get Underfoot
I totally get this. Anytime I put on my shoes my dog is all over my feet and I'm constantly tripping on the little ankle biter. This expert has two suggestions:
1) Success stations: use tethering, crates, and gates.
2) Mat training: give your dog a place to relax that's out of your (and your baby's) way.
They Pull On The Leash When You're Pushing A Stroller
Been there and have tried to avoid doing that. It's really hard to control a two-handled stroller with one hand and a lurching dog (however little) with the other. I once tried hooking the leash on the stroller and letting my dog do the work for me... it did not go well. This pro recommends a no-pull harness. There's also a video that shows how to get your dog to give way to leash pressure.
This is arguably the scariest moment for a parent with a dog, only because you know biting usually comes next. Keeping dog and baby safe requires training the child to respect the dog's boundaries. This canine expert says to always have a little one pet with one hand (guided by yours).
They Get Jealous
It's only natural for your dog to feel the big green monster. After all, they've never had to compete for your attention before. How can you temper the envy? Be the cuddling initiator. (I'm so bad at this because I always make my dog ask for it.) I love the idea of teaching your pup a cue for times when you are available for baby-free snuggling.
They Steal Toys
Am I the only one who feels like they spend all day telling either the dog or the baby, "That's not your toy"? Apparently not. It's hard for a dog to differentiate between what's baby's and what's theirs. Some of them look a lot alike, and baby toys often squeak. This is a job for the owner who, according to this expert, should stop allowing access. Clean up! Clean up! Everybody, clean up!
I have a "you wake her, you take her" policy when it comes to naps, but I can't exactly apply this rule to my dog. Not that I haven't thought about fashioning a tiny saddle and letting her ride him (I joke, I kid). Barking is tricky, but some methods to try include desensitization and counterconditioning and cueing.
This one worries me because I don't want my little one to get scratched, however unintentional. I never would have thought about having the dog drag a leash like this guru suggests, but I can totally see why that sensation might help keep him on the floor. Definitely giving that one a try.
I never would have thought of this as a good thing, but according to this canine authority dogs growl when they're uncomfortable. It's a warning, and it should be heeded. Growling is an appropriate response to discomfort and much more desirable than the other options (like biting, lunging, or going after the baby). The more you know!