Between classes about how to change a diaper or videos instructing expectant moms how to breathe during labor, there is seemingly endless information to review before the arrival of a little one. If you have a dog, then that will also include tips for getting your baby and pooch off to a great start. But while most of your questions are typically related to, “Will my dog like the baby?” there is an unexpected one that might come your way once your bundle of joy arrives: why does my baby hate the dog?
"A baby may not like the family dog in a way that is similar to sibling rivalry," says Texas-based Dr. Eboni Hollier, who is a board-certified in both general and developmental and behavioral pediatrics, in a Romper interview via email. "This is especially true if the baby was the only 'baby' before the family dog arrived. He's gone from being the only 'baby' to having to share his parents' love and attention."
Hollier says a baby’s strong emotional attachment to her parents may cause her to feel threatened or confused, leading to increased clinginess, regression into acting "more babyish," or even pulling at the dog’s tail.
Caitlin Ultimo, a resident pet expert for Chewy, tells Romper via email that allowing time for establishing a new normal will not only help a baby adjust, but your dog too. "When it’s finally time for your new baby to meet your first baby (your pup), set them up for success," she says, adding that giving your dog a new toy, particularly something interactive, will help keep him busy "while everyone gets situated."
Hollier also suggests sticking with routine because babies and dogs do well with knowing what comes next. If you can make sure activities, like going for a walk, happen with baby and pooch together, then even better. But solo time with each is also important, she says.
"Try your best to have special planned 'dates' for both," Hollier says. "Have one-on-one time set aside for both baby and dog. For example, other family members or a neighbor may be able to help play with your family's dog while you tend to your baby. This helps prevent either the baby or the dog from feeling left out."
Hollier says taking these steps will not only help your baby grow to love the family dog, but it may also lead to a relationship where a child feels responsible for the dog by helping.
That means that tasks like filling a dog’s water or food bowl — hey, maybe even scooping up poo — might not always be your job. Little victories, right?