Thursday, February 2, 2012

Introducing Dogs and Babies, Part Two

Welcome to the world, Alex Nolasco!  Your mom and dad wanted some tips for introducing your dog, Linda, to you for the first time.  They want your meeting to be peaceful, so here are some things they can try:
  • Don't feel the need to introduce Linda and Alex the instant Linda comes back to the house.  Let Linda get used to being home, let her smell and hear baby Alex crying and making all the strange noises a little person makes.  Allowing Linda time to take that in before the introduction will make things less stressful and should make the initial meeting of baby and dog less of a "big deal" for your dog.
  • Practice "leave it" in as many different situations as you can.  Work on having Linda leave toys, food, trash, sticks, clothes - anything you can pick up and show her, anything she might possibly want.  Work on having Linda "leave it" in all different rooms of the house, outside in the back yard, standing in the kitchen, running down the hall - anywhere and anyway you can imagine.
  • Keep the dog & baby times short and sweet.  When you do introduce Linda and Alex, separate them after a minute or less.  The same goes for the next time they meet, and the time after that.  When you do separate them, always take Linda away from the baby, not baby away from Linda.  This is especially important if Linda has gotten overly excited or pushy, or if she is not reacting well.
  • Practice "Off," the command that means "4 On The Floor," or don't jump up on anything (people, couches, counters, etc.).  Some people tell their dogs "down" for this, but if you use the command "down" to mean "lie down," then there should be a separate command for not jumping up.
  • Practice "Down Stay."  Focus on improving Linda's ability to stay in a down position with greater distance, duration and distractions.  This will be very useful as baby Alex grows, and even now.  Having a dog that you can "park" on a dog bed and know she'll stay put is a great convenience!  Keep it fun and successful for her though, "down stay" can be a boring and frustrating exercise for a dog unless it is taught slowly and with a lot of patience and praise.
  • Consider teaching Linda to stay off the couches and beds, if you haven't already.  Boundaries are important to a dog, and knowing that she won't accidentally jump directly onto a sleeping baby that she didn't see is good piece of mind.
  • Make sure Linda gets plenty of exercise, mental stimulation and positive training.  Take moments during the day to spend a few minutes throwing the ball, practicing some obedience training, giving her a stuffed Kong, or taking her for a leisurely "sniff all you want to" walk.  This will help keep her in a good frame of mind, and reduce some of the stress she will feel from all the changes at home.  Daddy, this is a good place for you to be involved!
  • Don't allow Linda to pick up or play with any of baby Alex's toys, clothes, pacifiers or any other baby things.  Dog toys are for the dog, everything else is for the people.  It's about respect, safety and consistency.
  • Practice "Out."  This command means leave the room or the area.  It's pretty useful if your dog is encroaching on your space, begging, or just getting in the way.  It sounds kind of rude, but if she is trained to it well Linda won't be offended, and with a new baby there are just some times that having a dog under your feet is not what you want.
Enjoy your puppy baby Alex!  I hope that you have many wonderful years of a boy and his dog - it's a magical bond that I am excited for you to have.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mary for your insights! We are practicing our "Leave it" command and doing our best to take her our everyday and play ball. Linda's maternal instincts are coming out - she goes near him every time he makes a peep to make sure he's ok. If she can't see him (if he's in the bassinet), she gets worried. We have to assure her, "the baby's fine, Linda." She's going to be a great big sister! Kathy Nolasco