This method of responsibility rating from pet to person seems to work for most, and provides the couple with the ability to demo their daddy skills or master their mommy time management on their dog before devoting time to their newest arrival. Training, housebreaking and disciplining a dog gives you a bare bones approach to the time, energy and most importantly–patience–needed when owning a pet, and then later when raising a baby.
Many couples are also “pet people” and enjoy the company and unconditional love that a pet provides. The challenge comes when you wonder how best to introduce your furry companion to the newest member of your family in a way that is healthy and safe for both your best buddy and your baby.
Below is information and recommended best practices by Dr. Brian Witkov, DVM, MPH.
A puppy is a major adaptation in a family’s environment. Timing is everything. Whether we introduce a puppy to an infant or an infant to a canine family member who has been with the family before baby’s birth, several basic rules apply.
Change must be gradual. Introduce the child or pup slowly and maintain a relaxed and positive demeanor. It is important to remember that any “cornering” of the pet is interpreted as threatening. Keep an eye out for sudden approaches to the pet, the pet’s food source or territory.
The best approach is to work with the infant by modeling best practices, demonstrating how to touch a dog and when to allow the pet some distance.
Here is a quick check list of things to remember when introducing your pet to your baby:
Think ahead of time for scheduling and environmental changes to allow for your pet and baby to acclimate and adjust accordingly.
Respond positively to interactions with your pet and baby. Good behavior–exhibited by your pet and/or your baby–should be rewarded and encouraged.
Relax and remember that your pet can sense when changes will occur and will react to your body language and disposition. If you are calm, then your pet will also remain relaxed to new stimuli.
Desensitize Your Pet to New Smells
Make sure your pet is familiar with new toys and other objects in their environment. One suggestion is to put your baby’s blanket or toy in the dog’s play pen or bed. This enables your pet to become familiar and comfortable with any new smells .
Remember that even the best dogs can become territorial or unpredictable when made to feel threatened. It is important to supervise interactions between your baby and pet closely. Remain calm, but in control of the situation.
Most experts will agree that pets help in a myriad of ways to make a child happy and well adjusted. Pets not only serve as loyal friends and companions to infants and children, but recent theories suggest that close proximity to pets actually decreases tendencies to develop allergies and asthma.
Learn more through the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) about how to best introduce your pets and babies in a way that is healthy and conducive to your growing family.
Dr. Witkov has practiced veterinary medicine for over 32 years. Animal House Calls, his mobile veterinary clinic, has served the Boston’s North Shore since 1981, and has now expanded its services to the North End/Waterfront and Downtown Boston areas.
For additional information contact his office at: 978.535.4263 or visit them at: animalhousecalls.net