If you're a dog lover with a little one on the way or a dog mom and a real mom, it's only natural to wonder is your baby safe around dogs? Juggling the needs and wants of you and your children can be tough, especially when it comes to loving those furry friends. The good news is your baby can be safe around dogs, as long as both your child and the dogs involved are minding their manners. How to determine whether you should feel safe introducing your child to dogs really depends on what your situation is.
If you've got a family dog of your own, you'll need to prepare your pup for the arrival of your baby. Along with the entirely new person that's joining your family, your family dog will also be experiencing new smells, sounds, and sights that revolve around your newborn. Not to mention the fact that your daily routine will change when your baby arrives, meaning that your dog's daily routine will also change. It's only natural that when your baby arrives, the amount of attention you pay to your dog will also shift. Rather than ambushing your dog with all of these changes at once, the The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends making a plan before the baby comes. This includes re-enforcing your dogs manners and knowledge of commands, introducing your dog to new experiences, sights, and smells that they will soon learn to associate with the newest addition to your family, and associating those things with rewards, there are plenty of ways to prepare.
Registered veterinary technician Nancy Peterson recommended a few pointers to WebMD. “Send home a blanket or article of clothing so the pet can investigate it,” Peterson said. “When you come home, let someone else carry the baby, and greet your pet in a calm manner. You could let your pet approach the baby on the couch. If things get too excited, rather than banishing the dog or cat, take the baby away so the pet can calm down.” By preparing your dog before the arrival of your child, you'll start out on the right foot when it comes to introducing one to the other.
If you're visiting someone else's dog, it's important to teach your children from a young age how to interact with animals. Lead by example and show your child the proper ways to approach, pet, and treat dogs respectfully and lovingly. Doggone Safe, an online community dedicated to the prevention of dog bites also recommends you avoid face to face contact between your baby and a dog. The site also recommend never leaving your baby alone with a dog, and making sure that the dog has been properly exercised before you introduce your baby, to make sure that any extra energy or excitement won't wind up in a potentially dangerous situation. Pet Professionals Guild also noted that t's also important to train yourself to read the body language of a dog, in order to read how a dog is feeling when your child is near them, to better anticipate situations between dogs and your children.
If you're contemplating adding a dog into a family that already has a baby, it's important to teach your child the proper way to greet a dog, and to introduce your child to the dog before you bring the dog home. The Association of Professional Dog Trainers urges families considering bringing a new dog into their home to consider the age and activity level of children when deciding what type of dog you'd like. Like any expanding family, letting everyone get to know one another before forcing them to share a home together is always a good idea. Proper training, a place that the dog can retreat to when they're feeling the need for alone time, and teaching your child how to properly interact with dogs is key.
Regardless of what your situation is, preparation for your baby, your dog, and your entire family, is key when it comes to deciding whether or not your baby is safe around dogs.