Gradually introduce changes in your dog’s routine as soon as you know a baby is on the way – if he does not connect them with the baby’s arrival he has less reason to be jealous.
(a) Your dog should not be the centre of attention at all times, and should sit on your lap (if at all) only when invited by you.
(b) Get him used to being away from you sometimes in another room, or indoor kennel (“crate”), and ban him from the nursery.
(c) Take a refresher course at a training school, and think about practice walks with the pram – it can be trickier than it sounds!
(d) Check with your vet about canine hygiene and worming.
When your baby is born your dog may be left for hours while you are in hospital, or upset by the excitement if you are at home. Arrange for someone he knows to look after/walk him.
It is an old wives tales (letting your dog drink breast milk or play with dirty nappies) don’t help your dog and baby to become friends, but sending home a blanket that the baby has slept on may help your dog to get used to her scent.
When you come home let someone else hold your baby while you greet your dog; introduce them later when he is calm.
Don’t try to keep your dog and baby completely apart – you won’t be able to keep it up! Teach them both to interact calmly and gently, no licking by the dog or grabbing by the child.
NEVER EVER leave dogs alone with babies or young children; shut your dog out of the room or pop the baby in a secure play-pen. This applies every time you use the bathroom, answer the door/phone or get a meal. It is NOT a matter of “trust”. Toddlers can accidentally injure or alarm dogs (e.g. by falling on them) and startled dogs may react impulsively, lashing out or biting.
Your dog may have to wait in the queue for love but he still needs you.
Always having the baby nearby when giving him attention encourages your dog to like having her around.
The most tolerant dog needs peace and quiet sometimes; allow him a place (e.g. his bed) he can escape to without being followed. Allow the child to go there at other times to prevent it becoming an exclusive area which he feels entitled to defend.
When your baby starts to crawl and walk teach your dog to step back out of her way in doorways and on stairs.
Older children and dogs
The same rules apply, especially the ones about mutual respect and supervision. Stress that dogs are not living toys, especially when bringing a puppy into a family where children already live.
Don’t allow children (or anyone else!) to feed your dog from the table; suitable leftovers can be mixed into his meal afterwards.
It is particularly important to “clear up” after your dog in the garden when your child becomes old enough to play there.
Keep your dog out of the way when your children have friends round or are playing energetic games.
It’s fun for your child to fuss and play with your dog, but teach games where you keep control, and always supervise. Older children should help feed, groom and train your pet so that they learn about the responsibilities as well as the fun of pets. Make sure your child always washes her hands afterwards.
Children love to hold the lead, but don’t allow them to walk your dog alone. They may be able to manage your well behaved pet, but how would they cope if he was attacked by a large stray?
Show children the correct way to befriend other people’s dogs – ask the owner first, then offer a hand for the dog to sniff from below his nose before you pat him.
Not all dogs are friendly. Your child should not approach strays and must never go with strangers to see “the puppies at home”!
Visits from other people’s children
Again the general rules apply, but (however much he loves them) your dog’s “level of tolerance” will be lower if he does not live with children all the time. Children and dogs must learn together (from you) how to get along. If it all gets too much, he may appreciate some time in his indoor kennel or another room.
Many dogs needs space.