Many people who have just had their first baby re-home their dogs, fearing that their newborn will be unsafe in the dog’s presence. And since pet dander is a common allergen, parents are eager to get their newborn as far from any pet as possible. In addition, caring for a pet and a baby at the same time is no easy feat.
But are dogs really unsafe around newborns, or young children, for that matter? If many dog-and-human relationships begin in childhood, why do lots of parents still assume that their baby will be their pup’s potential chew toy?
The truth is, re-homing a dog due to its owners having a baby is totally unnecessary unless the owners don’t have the means to care for a dog and a child at the same time. Pet care, after all, can also be costly and demanding. But if the owners are earning enough to provide for their child’s and pet’s needs, re-homing shouldn’t even be considered. Dogs can understand if you’ve just had a baby. They won’t lick the infant’s face if you told them not to. Even if you didn’t train your dog, they’re smart enough to understand that babies are not prey.
That isn’t to say, however, that parents’ concerns about their child’s safety with a dog are invalid. Dogs are fundamentally predators who have predatory instincts, so if they are provoked, they can attack. But you can definitely form a safe bond between your furbaby and child. Here are the dos and don’ts of balancing dog-care and childcare:
Do: Consider Sending Your Dog Away for Training
If you really can’t stand the idea of your untrained pup being in the same room as your child, consider sending the pooch away for training. There are doggie boot camps that offer excellent dog boarding and training. An experienced professional puppy trainer will be in charge of your dog for a specific period. After completing their training, rest assured that your pup will come home significantly more obedient and well-behaved. Let your child issue commands on the dog as well, so that the two can develop a loving relationship fueled by treats and lots of cuddles.
Don’t: Hurt or Intimidate Your Dog for Getting Close to Your Child
Your dog should be a part of your family. As such, they should also bond with your child and feel safe around them. It’s not just a child who should feel safe with a dog; it must be a two-way street.
Sure, it isn’t safe to let your dog just jump on your child, but the solution isn’t to scare away your dog. Instead, use positive reinforcement. For example, train your dog to sit every time your child approaches them. Give them treats or pets each time they obey. If the dog knows what you want them to do, they’re more likely to obey, as opposed to only knowing what you don’t want them to do.
Do: Vaccinate, De-worm, and De-tick Your Dog
Of course, this is a no-brainer, but this is just a reminder that vaccinations should be re-done every year. De-worming, on the other hand, should be done as frequently as needed (differs depending on your dog’s age). As for de-ticking, try to do it every day, especially if your dog often wanders outside. A dog’s tick can cause Lyme disease, especially if they acquired the tick from a deer.
Don’t: Allow Your Kid to Approach Your Dog When it’s Asleep
Dogs can be startled in their sleep, just like us. In older children, approaching a sleeping dog may not be as risky, since they’re already aware of a dog’s nature by that time. But babies and toddlers don’t know any better yet. To keep them completely safe, just don’t leave them alone together. Only let them play with your supervision, and after your dog has been trained.
Do: Spay or Neuter Your Dog
Spaying and neutering make your dog healthier and less likely to wander outside. As a result, they won’t be bringing home viruses, bacteria, dirt, and of course, unwanted litter. Considering that a dog who just gave birth can act aggressively, spaying would prevent them from attacking a kid who just wanted to see the puppies.
If you want your child to see a dog giving birth, just let them watch educational videos. Newborn puppies aren’t meant to be played by kids, anyway. So spay and neuter, and keep everyone safe and contented.
By observing these healthy behaviors, you’ll be able to keep your dog while raising your kid and let the two develop a sibling-like relationship. So many dogs are already ending up in shelters due to abandonment; don’t contribute to the problem by sending away your dog when you can totally balance pet care and childcare.