As most of you know I recently had an addition to the family, my son will be 1 year in October. I’ve been asked quite a bit about how Lana, my 7 year old mini dachshund, is handling the baby. To be honest, it took some time to get her used to this new human in her home. When we brought the baby home Lana was a bit nervous. She needed guidance, direction, and boundaries.
The baby is a good thing!
Once I was able to actually move around a little I worked on creating a positive association with the baby. Whenever he cried or was being cared for and Lana showed interest by using her nose she was rewarded with either praise, food, but mostly play. With these positive associations I offered her guidance in understanding the baby meant good things. Over time he was no longer scary to her and she often asks to come cuddle when I am feeding him. She has recently started bringing her toys to him to engage in play (once Lana wants you to play fetch you’ve been accepted!)
Know when your dog needs space
She is consistently becoming more and more comfortable with the baby’s presence, however, she can still get a little anxious when the baby cries or now, as he’s starting to notice her and pay attention to her. Remember, dogs aren’t always comfortable with change. She’s gotten comfortable but now he’s doing things he wasn’t before. Now again, she’s unsure of what to do. Whenever she seems uncomfortable I direct her to either her bed to create space, or crate where she feels very comfortable. I will often give her something to help her soothe herself like a bone of some kind. Giving her direction helps her understand how to navigate this new thing while he grows and changes every day.
Boundaries are a great management tool
Accidents happen. One common accident is a dog stepping or jumping on the baby while the baby is on the floor for tummy time. How do we prevent this? We teach a boundary. If you use a mat or blanket for the baby to be on you can consistently teach the dog to stay off of that boundary. I used a term Lana already understands which is the word “off”. With consistency she knows she can’t step on the blanket which makes the likelihood of an accident happening much less of a reality.
I implore any of you with children and dogs to look into body language. It is one of the most important things to be aware of when you have children. Your dog could be giving you subtle signs of discomfort and you aren’t aware of it until you start hearing the dog growl or snarl. Before the growl there is likely a dozen different signs your dog has given you that they need help understanding and navigating a situation.
If you need help understanding what your dog is trying to tell you please feel free to reach out to us about training. 617-381-6363 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org