Bringing up baby … with dogs
December 2, 2005
SUMMIT COUNTY – Pete and Elisabeth Gallup heard the pitter patter of little feet long before they had their baby, Zoe, three months ago. Rubin, Misha and Karma were the furry, four-legged “babies” of the house for a decade before the Gallups’ little one came along, so it was quite an adjustment for the pups.The Breckenridge couple purchased the book, “Your Baby and Bowser” by Stephen Rafe, to help them make the transition a little easier for themselves and the dogs and to find out how to safely introduce the dogs to baby Zoe.The Gallups brought home a blanket from the hospital that the baby had been wrapped in for the dogs to check out, and they also set up Zoe’s swing ahead of time so the dogs could get used to it.”They didn’t like the chirping noises it made,” Pete Gallup said.He added that two of the dogs are total attention hounds and have become a little jealous. The other, who doesn’t care much about getting attention, actually started sleeping next to the baby’s bassinet.”Misha would notify us that she’s crying,” he said.The Gallups aren’t the only ones to make adjustments with their pets once children come into the picture.
When adopting a dog at the Summit County Animal Shelter, potential owners fill out a questionnaire that includes whether they foresee the dog being around a baby.If the answer is “yes,” shelter staff provides a handout with tips from the book, “Childproofing Your Dog.” The handout includes tips for both dogs and cats.”It’s one of the reasons dogs are brought to the shelter … because all of a sudden the dog is jealous of the baby. But it’s preventable,” said Donna Taylor, educator and adoption counselor at the shelter. “It’s important to get them used to having a baby come into the home.” Nancy Ring, executive director at the Summit County Animal Shelter, said that oftentimes dogs don’t even recognize that babies are humans, because they don’t look like the other humans in their lives. And for a dog that is strongly prey-driven, it could be enticed by the baby’s noises and movements.”You should never expect that even if you have the sweetest dog in the world that it’s going to get along with a new child,” Ring said.Ring added that parents should never leave a child alone with dog or cat, because kids like to crawl and explore, which may lead to the dog snapping at the child if they aren’t used to it.”I know some people say their dog is so tolerant the kid will crawl all over the dog (and it won’t snap), but you’ve got to be really conscious and aware,” Ring said.Taylor said the most important thing is educating pet owners.
“Our goal is to keep the animal in a home for life. If you’re going to have a child and a pet, educate yourself as much as you can,” she said. “Think about the big picture.”Jennifer Harper can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13620, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.Steps for acclimating dog to baby- Have dog spayed or neutered to reduce any aggressive tendencies.- If your dog doesn’t obey commands consistently, enroll him in obedience class.- Prepare your pet for his routine being disrupted by the baby’s arrival.
– Get a life-size baby doll and hold it, rock it and walk it around the house to see how the dog reacts. If he leaps up, for instance, you can start correcting his behavior before the baby arrives.- Offer your dog a piece of the newborn’s clothing or a blanket she’s been wrapped in to sniff before you bring her home.- When Mom returns from the hospital, have someone else carry the baby in so she can give the dog a warm greeting.- Introduce them by telling your dog to sit while you hold your infant a few feet away.- For at least the first week, keep the dog on a leash when he’s around the baby. You’ll be able to grab it and control your pet if a problem occurs.- Adult supervision is always required with pets and young children.- If early interactions go well, incorporate your dog into your daily routine so he doesn’t feel left out.- “Childproofing Your Dog” by Brian Kilcommons