Kids and Dogs Living in Harmony
Safety tips for parents of babies and young children living with dogs
Like many couples, my husband and I got our dog before we had kids. Our beautiful and gentle black lab mix that we adopted from the pound was the “king” of the household. He had free range of our home, slept in our bedroom, and kept us company during every activity.
After the birth of our first child, our large and loving canine friend was dethroned. We originally underestimated the changes that our dog would face in the subsequent months and years of becoming parents. In retrospect, it may have been easier to wait to get a dog until the kids were older. Nonetheless, we loved our pooch and refused to give him up. We discovered, like most things worthwhile in life, with effort, patience, and commitment, we could enjoy our dog and keep our kids safe.
Here are some tips for maintaining security for the dogs and young children in your life and in your home.
Preparing Dog for Baby
Certain playful dog behaviors in a childless home may be tolerated and even enjoyed. Such behaviors may include, jumping, hoarding or chewing up items on the floor, running away with food or clothes, and begging from the table. “The cute grabbing of clothing, may be dangerous when [the dog] grabs the baby blanket” warns dog experts, Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson, in their book Child-Proofing Your Dog: A Complete Guide to Preparing Your Dog for the Children in Your Life.
Kilcommons and Wilson suggest that making certain changes in your dog’s routine before the baby is born may help prevent problems when the baby arrives. These changes may include changing furniture or sleeping rights and limiting games of fetch and “horseplay” to the outdoors. If your newborn will sleep in your bedroom for the first few weeks, consider getting a crate for the dog or get him used to sleeping somewhere other than your bedroom. The authors says, “A dog who is on a routine and is well exercised is less likely to be competitive, anxious, or demanding of your attention.”
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