There are few combos cuter than dogs and babies. They can go together like peas in a pod, snuggling, playing, and generally having a blast in each other's company. But at the risk of sounding like a total buzzkill, I would never let a dog around my baby until I knew that both pet and owner would do everything possible to keep my little one safe. There are some rules for your dog around my baby that are just good common sense, and in the best interest of both the fur baby and the human baby.
No matter how sweet and well-trained a dog is, accidents can still happen. If I had to guess, I'd say that a baby is probably more likely to be hurt by a dog excitedly jumping on them and knocking them over as they are by a dog getting angry and biting them. And while it's on doggy moms and dads to make sure their fur baby doesn't injure their new human friend, it's also on parents to make sure their baby or toddler isn't antagonizing the dog or making them feel threatened. Just as a parent can't always control the actions and emotional outbursts of their child, dog owners can't always stop their pet from defending themselves if they feel provoked. Working together, of course, is how everyone can keep all parties safe.
So with that in mind, here are nine rules to follow to turn dogs and babies into total BFFs:
1. Never Leave Your Dog Alone With A Baby
If there's one a golden rule about dogs and babies, this is it. Dogs should never left be alone with a baby according to HuffPost, because who knows what could happen.
2. No Licking
Your dog may be eager to bestow tons of "kisses" on every little one they meet, but doggy mouths are not as clean as human mouths despite what you may have heard, according to Parents. They can pass on germs and viruses just as easily as a person would.
3. Make Sure They're Worm& Flee Free
Germs aren't the only things dogs can pass along to a baby. DrGreene.com noted that dogs can give worms and fleas to babies if they aren't treated properly, so make sure your dog is up to date on its all meds and necessary vaccines.
4. Don't Yell At Your Dog Around The Baby
If your dog acts out around the baby, don't be too quick to yell or punish them. Dog Gone Safe noted that your dog should only have positive interactions around the baby, and scolding them could lead to negative associations.
5. Keep A Leash Handy
Your dog may seem adorably curious around a baby, but that doesn't mean you should let your guard down. American Family Physician warned that dogs who feel confused could end up getting aggressive, so be prepared to pull them back in via a leash.
6. Decide On A Doggy Safe Space
Meeting a tiny human can be overwhelming, and your dog may need somewhere to go to calm down and decompress. The American Kennel Club suggested designating a doggy safe space where they can go to take a break from the excitement.
7. Tire Them Out
If your dog is full of energy, you might want to tire them out before introducing them to a baby, according to trainer Cesar Millan's website. That way, they'll be more likely to stay calm.
8. Stay Calm
Dogs take their emotional cues from their owners, according to the ASPCA. So if you're clearly nervous and jittery, they'll start to feel the anxiety, too. That can lead them to lash out, so keep your cool during that first meeting (and every meeting after that, for that matter).
9. Be Realistic
Your dog may be a total love bug who you firmly believe would never hurt anyone, but BabyCenter noted that things can change in an instant when you put your pet in an unfamiliar situation — especially if that involves being poked, prodded, or pulled on by a baby. Stay vigilant and keep your eyes open for any signs of uneasiness in your dog to address it before it turns into aggression.