Especially if you baby your dog, you may wonder how he’ll react when you bring your human baby home from the hospital and if there’s anything you can do to prepare him.
Dogs can make wonderful companions for children, encourage family exercise and liven up your home, but aggressive dogs (even if they’re small) can pose real hazards to babies and children.
First, assess your dog’s temperament. Is he generally attentive and submissive and able to follow basic commands like “down,” “sit,” “stay,” and “drop it”? If so, he’ll probably be able to adjust pretty easily. Still, no matter how sweet your dog is, always supervise any interaction between dog and baby. When you come home form the hospital, let him sniff the baby and lavish positive attention on him for being calm.
If your dog is a young or hyper pup, keep him in a training crate until you’ve brought the baby home and are seated comfortably, then have someone bring the dog to you and baby on a leash for the first sniffs. Don’t let him jump up or paw at you or the baby, and praise him and offer treats for being good and keeping “four on the floor.” Use positive praise only—yelling or smacking the dog could cause him to fear or resent the baby’s presence or bite back. Make sure the dog gets plenty of regular exercise and attention and work on training during baby’s nap or after bedtime.
And here’s some good news: you don’t have to worry about parasites from a dog licking baby in the face or the high-chair tray, though of course you don’t want to let your child come into contact with the dog’s waste. If, once your baby gets mobile, she does mistake poo for a stick, wash her hands thoroughly in warm water with soap.