After the arrival of your new baby, new responsibilities and lack of sleep can leave little time for your four legged first child. To help your dog learn to love and not just tolerate your baby, the Austin Dog Trainer recommends the following simple tips once you bring your baby home.
- Have your spouse or a friend bring a blanket with your baby’s scent home for your dog to sniff while you are still at the hospital. After they sniff it, follow it up with a high value treat like beef liver or cheese. When you get home from the hospital, let your dog sniff your baby briefly while you are holding him and ask for a sit or down and follow it up with a treat. It is important to communicate positively that your pup can show initial interest in baby, but should then move away.
- Ask for help. The first few weeks after your baby’s birth are all about you bonding with your baby. Your only job should be to take care of your little one so asking for help is important. Friends and family can bring food, take your dog for walks, run errands, and stuff kongs or other food dispensing toys. If you need to, hire a dog walker or if your dog likes playing with other dogs, take them a few times a week to a reputable doggy day care.
- Provide plenty of positive, controlled interactions between your baby and dog. Play games that associate your baby with things your dog loves. An easy game you can play while feeding your baby is Find It. Ask your dog to sit, say “Find It,” throw a treat, once he eats it, ask him for a down, and say “Find It,” throw another treat.
- Supervision is key component for a good relationship between your dog and your baby. Never leave your baby and dog in the same room without supervision. Using baby gates, tethers (do not use tethers once your baby is mobile), and/or crates are helpful tools to ensure everyone is safe and happy.
- If any problems arise, get help as soon as possible. If your dog is stressed or showing signs of aggression, the sooner you intervene, the better. Do not give your dog to practice this behavior. Consider Austin Dog Behavior Lessons to help you.
Finally, join us at the Austin Dog Training Center for a one-time class, "Babies, Kids, and Dogs" presented by Austin Dog Trainer Tina, our Dogs & Storks instructor. Or consider an A La Carte class focusing on a single topic that specifically targets your training needs.