This guest post is by Erin Zaring DVM of Curbside Care Mobile Veterinary Clinic.
Introduce your new baby to your dog in a safe and fun manner!
How to Feed Your Infant to Your Dog
In Five Easy Steps
Children and dogs have long been best friends. However, small children, especially infants, and dogs don’t exactly go together like peas and carrots. There are several things you can do to ensure that your child and your dog have a fun and safe relationship. Of course there are also plenty of things you can do to mess up that relationship and put your child’s well being at risk.
Step 1. Surprise your dog with a brand new baby!
One day you’re just lying on the couch, minding your own business, chewing on a rawhide, and all of a sudden your human shows up with this screaming, snotting, smelly lump of a little mini-human. Worse yet, your human seems to actually like that weird little creature. You know what, she seems to like that blob of person flesh more than she likes you!
Don’t do a baby ambush on your dog. Before bringing the new baby home, bring home a blanket in which the baby has been wrapped. Let your dog smell the blanket, and give him lots of praise and one of his favorite treats.
Step 2. Punish your dog every time she looks at the baby.
You figure, well, if your human thinks that baby-thing is the bee’s knees, maybe you should try to tolerate it. So you bring your favorite chew toy to your human while he’s holding the baby. “No! Bad dog! Get that slobbery dog toy away from here!” Wow, he likes that baby AND he is mad at me.
Remember, the goal is to get your dog to actually like your baby. Make all of your dog’s interactions with your baby POSITIVE.
If your dog is lying peacefully in the same room as your baby, tell her, “Good dog!” When you enter the home carrying your new baby in your arms, your dog will, of course, run to great you. Ask her to sit and give her a treat. “Good dog!” If your dog wants to sniff the diaper bag or check out the bouncy seat, let her. She’s not tearing up anything. “Good dog!”
Step 3. Exclude your dog from all family activities.
What is going on? You used to be top dog. You went on walks and car rides with your human, you snuggled together on the couch, you usually even scored a few table scraps after dinner. But now, ever since “it” arrived, you’re stuck out in the backyard or gated off in the kitchen.
Sure, a new baby is going to take up a lot of your time, but don’t forget about your furry baby. Put your infant in the stroller, and take your dog for a walk. When someone else is able to watch the baby, share the love seat with the dog. As long as there is an adult in the room, there’s no reason why your dog can’t also be in the room.
Step 4. Force your dog to play with the baby – take cute pictures whenever possible!
You obviously are not supposed to look at or touch the baby. So, you keep your distance – easy to do since you aren’t allowed out of the kitchen anymore. But then one day, they bring that smelly baby to your dog bed and lay that thing right under your nose! Then the humans ooh and ahh and giggle. Could they be more obnoxious?
There is little that will make a veterinarian cringe. But those photos of infants propped up next to dogs that are plastered all over Facebook and Instagram, those make us cringe every time we see them. Remember when Michael Jackson held his baby over the balcony railing? Yeah, same thing.
Yes, you should allow your dog to interact with your baby. However, the interactions should be controlled and safe. Dog in the same room – great. Baby lying on top of the dog on the couch – not safe. Dog gently smelling baby’s foot while you are holding the baby and praising the dog – great. Dog licking baby’s face while you’re three feet away taking a picture – not safe.
Your baby should never be in your dog’s crate or on your dog’s bed. Your baby should never be allowed to grab at your dog’s ears or pull at your dog’s lips. Your dog should never be in your baby’s crib or car seat. Your baby should never be placed on top of your dog.
Step 5. Leave the infant alone with the dog.
Well, you’re finally starting to realize that the baby maybe isn’t just the most horrible thing that has ever happened to you. But then, right when you least expect it, they leave the room, and you are left alone with that weird, unpredictable, noisy, smelly little being. Mom is not there to tell you it is OK and give you treats. You feel your anxiety level begin to rise…
Your dog is not a babysitter. Your dog is not a self-controlled, responsible person. Your dog is a dog. Dogs act on impulses. Dogs can react dangerously when they are frightened. Dogs can be clumsy and knock things over onto your baby or step on your baby. Never leave your dog and your baby alone together. Take one of them with you when you leave the room, or put your dog in its crate. Please, don’t let an accident happen.