Wednesday, May 9, 2012

8 Dog Training Secret Tips to Successfully Introduce a Baby to Your Pet

Babies & Pets

Editorial Note: This guest post is illustrated with both personal family photos from MommyBlogExpert and images supplied by the author's company.

Step by Step Expert Advice:
How to Prepare a Dog for Meeting Baby

Guest Post by 
Mikkel Becker,

Assess the dog's temperament for aggression or fear issues
Note how your dog reacts around people, especially when children or toddlers go near his food bowl, chew toys and resting area. Also observe any sensitivities your dog shows when being approached by others, especially kids. See how your dog acts when handled roughly such as being picked up suddenly or touching or pulling on body parts such as tail, paws, mouth and ears. If you have any concerns, now is the time to address them with remedial training. You can also involve your veterinarian, a certified professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist if necessary.

As a baby, MBE's son & Boxer were always BFFs
Teach proper behavior ahead of time
Jumping can be annoying as well as dangerous when you are holding a baby or later on when your child starts crawling and then eventually walking. To prevent your baby from being stepped on or injured by a fall, train your dog to sit for greeting and only jump on your bed, furniture, or lap only when invited. Leash walking also is a concern when a stroller becomes part of the equation. Walk your dog with the empty stroller before baby arrives, and don't be afraid to incorporate anti-pull devices like harnesses and head halters. Review commands like "leave it" and "drop it" commands. This will help avoid problems later which you want your dog to let go and drop something they shouldn't have snatched.

Consider both pet-proofing and baby-proofing your home
If your dog sleeps in your bed, you may need to relocate him since having him on the bed may not be safe if your baby is sleeping in a bedside cradle and could possibly be jumped on. Crate training your dog or setting up a doggy-proofed area for the times when you will not be able to supervise your dog is also a good idea. Child gates, ideally the type with vertical slants to discourage canine climbing, should be set up at the edge of baby’s room so the family pet is unable to enter unsupervised. Also, keep dog food and water bowls out of baby's reach. Lastly, don't forget to get a diaper pail with a secure lid to avoid a canine-caused mess.

Image provided by VetStreet
Help your dog be independent
Prior to delivery, soon-to-be-parents often lavish extra attention on their dog because they feel guilty about the time they will be taking away from their pooch when baby comes home. Instead, you should prepare your pet for independence, so that he is used to a decrease in attention in advance. Keep your dog’s mind and body engaged by purchasing some challenging food puzzles and long-lasting chew toys to keep on hand and get your dog into an exercise routine that you'll be able to maintain with a baby in the house.

Acclimatize doggy's senses to the sights and sounds of a newborn
It sounds silly now, but it's likely pay off later if you use baby doll to mimic the different things you'll do when your real baby arrives. Use this pretend baby to do diapering, feeding, bathing, and other activities with your dog present. You can also use the mock baby to teach your pet to respect the baby's space and remain calm when you are involved in doing baby-related things. Play recordings of baby noises, such as crying, and pair them with tasty rewards so your dog associates them with something good. There's even a CD called Preparing Fido to help with simulating all the new sounds he'll be exposed to.

This bone keeps MBE's Dog Dexter busy
Introduce your baby's scent to your canine in advance
Have someone take an item home that has been on your baby such as clothing or a blanket. As soon as your dog smells this item, give him a special treat like a piece of cheese or hot dog. Then remove the scented item. Repeat the process as dogs have a strong sense of smell will associate this familiarity positively when you baby and pet meet for the first time. 

Use caution and common sense to introduce your baby and dog
The best place for the two to meet initially is on neutral ground to minimize territorial issues. Somewhere outside your house and property is ideal being certain to use the basic commands you've taught your pet after which you always reward the animal. Depending on your dog and the situation you will need to be the judge of how this initial encounter is handled and if brief sniffing will be permitted.

Supervise your children and pet's interactions constantly
That's because most dog bites happen to babies and kids in unsupervised settings. Remember as your child becomes more mobile to always monitor interactions between your dog and your baby, who will soon be a toddler who is pushing limits. Take advantage of baby gates or crates to restrain your pet when a responsible adult is not able to watch over your child.
Image from VetStreet is a new site dedicated to connecting canine and feline pet owners with the best products, services and veterinary care to help keep their dogs and cats healthy. The site includes articles by Dr. Marty Becker, DVM, his daughter Mikkel Becker who authored this post, and leading veterinarians, professional journalists and animal health experts. Also featured is an online shop now in Beta offering a growing range of vet-prescribed medications, nutritional products, grooming supplies, cute dog beds, fun pet toys, and more.

What kind of experiences do you have with introducing a pet to a new little family member? Feel free to share your thoughts as a comment on this post.

FTC Disclosure: This post was authored by Mikkel Becker of and edited by MommyBlogExpert. No payment or other compensation associated with this post was exchanged. See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one.

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