If you have a dog and are expecting a new baby, it's natural to worry about your two little ones getting along. Will your dog hate you for bringing a crying ball of human into your house? Or worse, will they hate their new sibling? Fortunately, as any parent to both a canine and a human baby can tell you, your pet and your babe can eventually grow to be the best of friends. In fact, there are ways your dog is trying to tell you they love your baby, so if you're on the lookout for the following signs you can rest easy.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), it's totally possible for dog owners to foster a loving relationship between their dog and brand new baby. Your work actually starts before your baby gets here, too. For example, it's beneficial to start practicing a new routine and giving your pooch lots of treats and positive reinforcement prior to the "big day". Once you bring baby home, it's important to give your dog and baby time to get used to each other and to learn to love spending time with each other.
Family Paws Parent Education Center also encourages families to only let their dog and baby play together in safe ways to help them grow to love each other. Eventually, and after some work, they will feel like family. So while it might seem impossible now, your dog will show you that they actually love their new sibling in the following ways:
They Play Together
According to Family Paws Parent Education Center, you should never let your dog and baby play unattended. It is important to let them spend time together in a supervised, safe environment, though. If you teach your dog that this new, very loud bald person is part of the family, and teach your baby to be gentle, they will to learn to play together in no time and actually enjoy sharing the same space.
They Get Excited
When you have a baby life changes drastically for everyone, including your dog. That's why it's important you help them manage their reactions to new sounds, routines, furniture, smells, and a change in the amount of attention they receive. According to the AKC, when you first bring your baby home it's natural for your dog to be a little excited. I mean, their mom thinks it's a big deal, so this new person must be interesting. The site suggests that you greet your fur baby alone, though, so that they don't get too excited for your newborn to handle.
They Are Happy When Baby's Around
According to the ASPCA, your dog might feel jealous, nervous, and sad when you bring your new baby home. You can help prepare them for their new sibling by changing their daily routine to include less attention, inconsistent schedules, and tons of tasty rewards for learning new commands that will come in handy when you have a newborn or baby in the house. If you teach them that they get a cookie when they drop the baby's toy, or leave their mat or swing alone, you are likely to have a pooch who associates adjusting to their new friend with positive rewards rather than a lack of attention.
As dog trainer Colleen Demling explained to Rover.com, it's important to teach your dog to be gentle with baby, but it's also important that you teach your baby to be gentle with your dog. To encourage a lifelong friendship between your pooch and your baby, make sure they both learn to respect each other's boundaries and learn to interact with soft touches so that everyone has fun.
They Share Their Food
According to Family Paws Parent Education Center, you should never let your baby have dog food or the other way around. Dogs feel vulnerable at meal time and, as a result, could try to defend their food bowl. On the other hand, dog food can be a choking hazard and some people foods could pose a risk to your pooch, too. That won't stop them from trying to eat off one another's plates, though. The ASPCA recommends giving your dog a large amount of their favorite foods during meal time to help them learn that if baby approaches your dog while they are eating, they aren't a threat. Another approach is to create a safe place with gates or crates for your pet to eat undisturbed.
Pretty soon your dog will be used to having their younger human sibling around. When your dog brings your baby food, or your baby drops them a tasty morsel from their highchair, you pretty much know they will be BFFs forever.
It's natural for dogs to be aggressive around young children, says the ASPCA, particularly when eating or if they feel like they have to defend themselves. You can help set them up for success by making sure that their time with your baby or toddler is enjoyable. They suggest that you give them lots of opportunities for positive encounters with your child to reduce their stress, fear, and teach your child to be gentle and respect boundaries from the beginning. If they do get aggressive you should consult a dog trainer for help. Over time, your dog will learn to view your child as part of the family and will eventually relax when they are around.
They Let Baby Sleep
According to the ASPCA, one way to foster friendship between your dog and your new baby is to get your new dog ready for a new schedule that involves nap time. They recommend starting your new schedule a few weeks before your baby arrives and, instead of showering your dog with attention, get them used to not being the center of your universe. This is also a great time to teach your dog a new set of rules that might involve not going in the nursery, not barking during nap time, and leaving the baby's toy's alone.