Whether you have chosen to bring a new pet into the home or you are due to have a baby and already have dogs in the home, it’s a hard decision for parents. It’s a worry for many parents because you want your children to interact with animals, but at the same time you hear horror stories of children being bitten by dogs, though this is far and few between.
Interestingly enough dogs especially tend to realise that children should be treated differently, they tend to be gentler around children (like they might be around smaller dogs) if they are an older family pet and often you find they automatically accept the new family member into their home and protect them as they would you or your partner.
Introducing a New Dog Into Your Home
If you have decided to buy a puppy for the children or adopt an older dog from a shelter, there are a few things you need to go over with the children before the new pet arrives in the home.
Depending on the age of your children will depend on what they understand about animals. It’s important for children to sit quietly when a new dog is in the home and not automatically run up to the dog to stroke it. Let the dog go to them and never leave them without adult supervision.
If the dog is a little nervous, let it sit with you and then introduce the child, sitting closely to you allow the child to start stroking the dog.
Introducing a New Baby Into Your Home With a Dog
It is much easier to introduce a pet that has been in your home for some time to a new child. You can start preparing your dog before you have your new baby by changing their routine, have a routine that you can work around the new baby, such as when you take the dog for walks, feeding time and play time.
Crate train your dog so that when you are unable to supervise your dog in the new baby’s presence, you can place them in their crate. This will take a lot of stress off you.
Always ensure your dog has socialised with children. If you have friends with children and you don’t have any of your own, ask if you can introduce your dog to their children using a collar and leash. Let the children feed treats to the dog, stroke the dog and play with him.
From the minute you know your family is about to grow with a new baby arriving, start obedience training if your dog is not already trained. You want your dog to automatically respond to your commands. Sit, down and no are important commands when adding a new baby to the home. Being able to tell the dog no and down if the dog gets too excited around the baby is important.
Start handling your dog a little more roughly, (gently!) pull his tail, grab his ears and touch his paws, get him used to being handled like this because once your baby is a toddler, your dog is going to have a rough time.
Lastly you really need to know your dog. This means know his or her body language, often you can tell when a dog is going to snap, when he or she is getting irritated and about to respond or when they want to be left alone. Knowing your dog will help when you have young children around, anticipating the dog’s next move can reduce the risk of any incidents and ease your mind.
Oliver writes for Alton Breaks – offering family-friendly holidays at UK attractions. Matt’s dog is a very fast whippet-saluki-greyhound (he thinks) rescue named Archie.