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We're worried about how our dog is going to react to our baby's arrival. She's generally good natured but can be a little hyperactive. I'm interested to know how other families have prepared their dog for the baby's arrival.

asked 12 Sep '09, 01:52

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Anna
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edited 12 Sep '09, 12:21

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Tammy ♦♦
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Good for you for thinking of this now. Too many people neglect this part of life and expect gates and whatnot to do the job for them. It's wonderful that you thought to address this now.

(19 Oct '09, 19:25) Dinah

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Before leaving the hospital have someone bring home an item that the baby has worn for the dog to smell.

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answered 16 Sep '09, 19:44

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Liz H
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We used a receiving blanket, rather than a piece of clothing, but it worked quite well to get our dog used to the scent of our new baby.

(21 Sep '09, 00:27) dave0

We have a large dog who's only 3 years old, so just getting out of his puppy stage. He was very much the centre of our attention and we thought his nose would be quite out of joint (and in a way it was) when the baby was born. I made sure to let him sniff everything that came into the house for the baby. I had bought a few supplies (diapers, zinc cream, lotion, etc..) for the baby room and made sure he had time to smell it and get used to those smells. He was quite interested in me pregnant - so I made sure to let him snuggle up to my belly to listen or I would pull his head towards my belly so that he could hear it as I laid or sat on the floor (he's too big for the couch! hehe!). We brought home a receiving blanket from the hospital prior to bringing baby home so that he could smell that too and get used to baby's smell. We stopped letting him come up onto our bed at night and tried to create a little more distance for him to get used to not always being the centre of all our attention. We set up gates and things to give him some boundries too sometimes. The evenings are his time and he knows that when our son has gone to bed that he gets more attention! We watched closely when our son was born - worried that he wouldn't realize his size difference, but he was, and still is so good with our son!

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answered 12 Sep '09, 02:19

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Chantelle
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My wife and I bought a CD of a baby crying and would play it for the dogs randomly throughout the day. We had heard that some dogs completely freak out at the sound of a crying/screaming baby, so it was good to get them used to the noise.

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answered 18 Sep '09, 15:45

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Brandon
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I didn't try this personally, but I've heard others recommend buying an inexpensive, life-size baby doll and treating it like you would a real baby around the house. Dress it in the baby's clothes, put it in a swing or bouncing seat, and sit and hold it on the couch for a little while. Not only does this prepare the dog for what's coming, but it gives you an idea about how the dog will react ahead of time.

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answered 18 Sep '09, 16:50

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user-97 (google)
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Speaking from my experience as a dog owner with two kids, here is my advice. Before the baby comes home start fading the attention the dog receives (petting, walking, etc.) in the weeks before the new baby arrives, at least down to a level that you can maintain once the baby is home, preferably more. This is important since the dog will get less attention once the baby comes home. Once the baby gets home, make a point to increase your level of attention to the dog again.

The next thing that is important is, once the baby is in the house, to establish his place in the family pecking order. Your family is a pack, and you (hopefully) are the alpha in the pack. The dog will see a new baby as a puppy and lower than him in the pack order. Your job as the alpha is to make sure that your dog knows he has lower status than the baby. This should help reduce dominance issues.

It is important to establish boundaries. For example, the dog should not be allowed to step on the baby blanket, even when the child wasn't on it. I would also recommend getting rid of all the stuffed toys for your dog, and that stuffed animals should be for the baby. It's hard for dogs to make the distinction between 'his' and the baby's stuffed toys. Stuffed toys are for the baby, buy rope toys or the like for the dog.

It may be too late, but it also helps if the dog is conditioned to act appropriately around food. While it is very important that you should teach your child (once they're older) not to touch the dog while he is eating, I would also recommend conditioning your dog. While he's eating, touch him, pet him, take his food dish away and give it back. Discipline him if he exhibits aggressive behavior (growls, etc.).

As always with dogs, reward good behavior, punish undesired behavior. Do it consistently. Try to maintain about a 10:1 ratio of reward to punishment.

Good Luck!

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answered 20 Oct '09, 00:27

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Peter Tate
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edited 28 Oct '09, 13:53

Hello Peter and welcome to moms4mom! As a general rule, we are asking that people also explicitly include where they are getting their information. For instance, is this from personal experience? Perhaps you're a dog trainer, but if so, can you include references for relevant material? For more information, please see our Back It Up principle: http://moms4mom.com/back-it-up Thanks!

(20 Oct '09, 01:52) Scott ♦♦

Great point about establishing the dog's place -- and the baby's place -- in the pack. My dog trainer friend talks so often about the importance of this one and how many problems with dogs go back to the misunderstanding of a dog as a family pet vs. as a pack animal. It's a very strong instinct that when handled correctly can result in a lovely and obedient pet.

(20 Oct '09, 13:42) Dinah

We also had to introduce the baby to a large dog. We did many of the same things as Chantelle mentioned. The only additional thing was that we bought a CD of baby sounds and played it to get the dog used to the noise. Before we brought the baby home, my husband put one of her sleepers in the bassinette and had the baby sounds coming from the basinette. He used that to teach the dog to stay calm around the basinette. Our dog and our daughter get along really well now.

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answered 12 Sep '09, 21:52

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Tammy ♦♦
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My neighbors are pregnant with their first baby. Their best friend is a dog trainer who's had many clients asking this exact question. He gave this advice:

  • Be very strict in making the dog follow all rules. There need not be harsh punishments, but all rules and boundaries must be enforced without ambiguity. Training the dog later when a new baby is around taking up all of your attention will be very difficult. But getting a well-trained dog to continue to follow her training will be much easier. Make sure the boundaries you're enforcing are those you want to maintain after the baby arrives. E.g.: keeping the dog out of the nursery.
  • Get a recording of baby sounds (either buy this or record a friend's baby) especially crying. Put your tape/CD/MP3 player in the baby stroller. Go on walks with the stroller and the dog (and try to ignore the weird looks people give you). This will get the dog used to it and will allow you to teach the dog without the distraction of a needy infant and without the dog being able to hurt the child during this training.
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answered 19 Oct '09, 19:20

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My wife and I bought a new chair that would be her default breastfeeding chair. The dogs, which we do allow up on the sofa to sit in our laps, are not allowed in that chair. To further drive home the lesson, I sat in the chair a few minutes each night in the last couple months of her pregnancy, and held a teddy bear. That way the dogs would get used to us holding the baby and they would know not to jump up in our laps when doing so.

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answered 28 Oct '09, 20:27

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Scottie T
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With our Lab, we did two things:

  1. Made sure we established we were the alphas in our "pack" (this is just plain dog ownership rules.. we watch The Dog Whisperer, which was very helpful in this regard).
  2. Pulled on his tail a little and played with his food while he is eating.

He didn't have much trouble with him when the twins came home because he minded us and didn't jump up / etc (alpha establishment). He didn't act strangely or anything. He just wanted to know what these noisy things where and sniff and lick their heads. After about a day of interest, he went back to his habits.

Now that the girls are older (2), the training for a certain amount of abuse is paying off. The girls will pull on his tail or get in his business while he is eating and he doesn't react. This was our primary concern... bringing a new baby home wasn't too scary, but how he would react when they started futzing with him was.

The girls love him and hug on him and lay on him now and he seems to enjoy their company.

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answered 29 Oct '09, 03:08

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Anderson Imes
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On top of some of the helpful tips already given, my wife and I also made sure to set up the baby's room early. We also built the bassinet early and put it in our room well before the baby's birth. We planned on keeping her in our room for the first month or so and then moving her into her room eventually, so we made sure to put the bassinet where it would be. That place also happened to be where one of our dogs slept, so he was forced to learn to sleep elsewhere. It worked well.

We did the same thing with the baby's swing in the living room.

We also made sure to work on establishing boundaries regarding the baby's room. We made it a point to try and get them accustomed to the fact that they shouldn't be in there unless we are. We weren't 100% successful, but they are pretty good about not going in there unattended.

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answered 12 May '10, 16:11

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Asked: 12 Sep '09, 01:52

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Last updated: 22 Jan '11, 15:56