Dogs and Newborns
By Damen Muller, DVM
Many of us have a pretty picture of family and pets acting in harmony. As animal owners, we expect our pets to acclimate to our surroundings and our family. This means our dogs must act friendly and safely to adults, and more importantly, to our children, otherwise serious injury can result. If this is not the case, pets end up getting rehomed or even worse - euthanized.
Animals can have very different reactions to newborns coming into their lives. It can instill interest, happiness, anxiety, anger, jealousy, and many other emotions. It is very important that pets are still given attention to help avoid any negativity within the household. Remember that newborns can become a big annoyance to our pets due to crying, yelling, being too physical etc. and we must recognize this and step in to regulate the situation.
Proper introduction is very important. Be sure to allow plenty of space for your pet to evade anything that they may find stressful. If pets are forced to confront your baby, they may become anxious and reactive. Instead, invite your pet to come near with a treat and reward good behavior. Keep it short and sweet - “Baby Steps” If pets start showing any adverse behaviors (ears back, growling, head turning, tail tucked etc.), take a break and try again later. Don’t forgo daily walks as this can be a very beneficial time to ‘take the pack out’ and solidify the family mentality for our animals.
Our families and pets are very important to us. We need our family to behave properly and safely to make a happy home. Take your time introducing everyone, and always supervise kids and pets so they get on peacefully. If your animal persistently shows issues during this process, don't hesitate to seek professional behavioral advice sooner than later.