This week I counseled quite a few new parents on ways to help their dogs adjust to new babies. It got me thinking of this clip of a precious baby and super sweet Boxer from the Bonnie Hunt show that aired a few years back…
Please check it out yourself and ask yourself a few questions.
a.) Did you think it was cute?
b.) Did you gasp?
c.) Did you yell, “grab your baby dumb ass?”
Me? I went with all of the above.
I raised three babies with dogs and many of those dogs were not initially big fans of babies, but learned to be. How did I help the dogs learn to love my babies? By always always protecting the dog from the baby and vice versa. By always making experiences between dog and baby good ones and never allowing the baby to crawl over to a dog, especially a sleeping one!
My last dog Charlee came to us as an adolescent. Charlee was taught to get up when the baby headed her way to come to me, much like a service dog “alert”. She was taught to come and touch her nose to my hand for a reward, and to not allow the baby to touch her.
At that time, I was busy with my 2 other young kids and I was afraid that I might miss something that could end in disaster. This alert task did not take the place of supervision, it was taught as a precaution. As a bonus, when my baby started exploring in the middle of the night, it was the dog who came and woke me up to tell me!
Good girl Charlee!
To make your dogs safer around babies, you should always set up predictable encounters for the baby and dog. A parent should be holding the baby and use a “guided touch” with their hand over the baby’s hand to touch the dog gently. My Mom taught this to me, and she called it “make nice”, and it is what all the babies in my family learn from a very early age.
That is the safest way for baby and dog to interact and learn what is expected.
The dog in the clip was appropriate with the baby—BUT…what price are you willing to put on cute?
Toward the end of the clip, the dog yawns, turns head away and licks. These are calming signs and are signs to people and other dogs that they are stressed and uncomfortable.
I love cute babies to, but babies need to learn to leave the dog alone, and dogs should not be put in that position to have to tolerate babies.
What happened to letting sleeping dogs lay?
As I often say to my own kids, there are rules for a reason.
For the best information on raising dogs and kids together go to Dogsandstorks.com. I have been a Dogs and Storks national presenter for several years and cannot say enough good things about this program.
Learn about calming signs in dogs on Turid Rugaas’s web site. Check it out here.