Fostering a respectful relationship between babies and dogs is extremely important! It's never too early to start teaching babies about how to respect dogs, as well as teach dogs to respect babies. The possibility of a tragic dog bite on a baby is all too real. The good news is that these bites are preventable! We've given you an easy to use acronym to help you remember the most important tips! Just remember - FAMILY!
Food (and water): Babies and dogs should always be separated while eating. Babies should be taught how to stay out of food and water bowls, and dogs should be taught to leave babies alone while they are eating! If babies are too young to understand, the dogs food and water bowls should be inaccessible and dogs should be in the crate while babies are eating.
Always supervise! Babies and dogs should have 100 percent supervision, without exception. Even if your baby is asleep or the dog is asleep, they should never be left alone together. Even the most gentle and loving dog in the world may react unpredictably to a baby crying and become anxious, even hurting a baby in its attempt to help. A newly walking baby may be knocked over by a dog on accident, or a baby may hurt a new puppy on accident. If you can't provide 100 percent supervision, separate the dog and baby!
My Space! Make sure that your dog and baby both have safe places to go to get away from each other. This may mean installing some extra baby gates and also making sure that your baby learns to stay out of the dog's space --- like their crate!
Introductions should be done slowly, gently, and with supervision! Reward your dog using clicks and treats for any positive interaction with the baby -- even just watching the baby from a distance!
Love! Babies love dogs, and dogs love babies. Teach your baby the right way to pet their pup! I recommend petting with a closed fist, which can prevent hair grabbing. As you baby grows up, you can progress to petting with a flat hand. In addition, babies and dogs should always stay out of each other's faces! When you are practicing petting with your baby, approach from the side and have them pet their dog on the side.
Yummy treats! It's important for your dog to learn that when the baby is around, good things happen! Be generous with the treats when you bring the baby home, and even more generous with the treats when your baby starts becoming mobile and can interact with the dog more.
If you have more questions or want more specifics about how to introduce your baby to your dog, contact us here!