Petscene: Bringing home baby
Summit County, CO ColoradoIt can be a typical soap opera story of jealousy when bringing home your new baby child to meet your former baby child, the dog. The general concern among parents of newborns is that the dog will become aggressive toward the infant, and this worry can be legitimate. Dogs are dogs, and do not know what a new baby implies or even what a baby is. Particular concern should be paid to dogs that have little or no experience with infants and small children and also those that present fearful or aggressive behavior.”If the dog has no experience with a baby, they won’t know what to make of it,” said Dr. Joanne Olivia-Purdy, an applied animal behavior specialist in Leadville. “They don’t know if the new baby is a toy or prey or what.”
A few easy techniques, however, can help the dog associate the baby with a good thing and promote a sibling-like relationship. General obedience is necessary as a first step for the dog to begin its baby training. “A good sit-stay command will help train the dog around the baby,” said Olivia-Purdy. Simply put, the dog just needs to get used to the baby, its smells and even its sounds, preferably before the baby is brought home. “It’s good to let the dog smell a blanket from the hospital,” Olivia-Purdy advised. The blanket will allow the dog to become familiar with the baby’s smell before having physical contact. CDs with small child and infant sounds to play for dog to prepare it for loud crying can also be purchased. (One is available at animalbehaviorassociates.com for $25.95.)
“Experience with infants and small children is also very important,” Olivia-Purdy said.To help lessen the shock, pet owners can bring friends’ babies and small children around to find out if your individual dog becomes nervous around kids. If it’s not, it can simply help your dog become used to the little ones.”Young kids like to run around and can make a lot of dogs nervous,” Olivia-Purdy said.While they interact, owners should not allow the dog to be overly aggressive. Even the so-called “love nips” can be especially harmful to infants and toddlers. It is also important to reward the dog for spending quality time with its new baby sister or brother.
According to Olivia-Purdy, most people don’t contact her until after a problem. Yet with a few easy preparations before baby comes home, the dog will embrace the new member of the family as something to be protected. Olivia-Purdy reminds to follow common sense though. “A baby should never be left unsupervised with the dog,” she said.For more on Dr. Joanne Olivia-Purdy and her services, visit www.purdybird.com
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