General Question

RedPowerLady's avatar

How do you acclimate your pet to a new baby in the home?

Asked by RedPowerLady (12566points) October 22nd, 2009

How do you acclimate your pet to having a new baby in the home?

Also how do you know what is safe in terms of your pet around a new baby?

The rest of the information is about our particular dog in case that information is relevant. No need to read it if it is not.

About our dog: We are new to dog owning (no experience as children etc..) and have had her now for about 1.5 years she is almost 2 years old and so far. She has a very even and kind temperament when it comes to being around children, strange adults, and other dogs. She is not so cool with cats, raccoons etc.. but i’ve never seen her do more than bark at them and chase them. We have her kinda trained. This means she knows a lot of commands and she responds to them only most of the time. When she doesn’t get enough excercise she tends not to respond. She is collie and aussie mix as far as we know. She has been a great pet so far and we love her as part of our family. We are currently expecting a baby in February.

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31 Answers

filmfann's avatar

Most animals have instincts about children, so you will probably be fine.

mcbealer's avatar

Great question, I’m still wondering about these two questions….
What breed is she, and is she spayed?
Also, have you set up your household as a pack, or does she think she owns you guys?

I introduced a baby to the mix when my dog was about 5 months old, and a second dog I had was aroud 5 years old. Things went really well for us, and I can tell you more about that with a little more information specific to your dog.

mcbealer's avatar

woops I see you stated the breed, my eyes must be tired.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@mcbealer She is not spayed yet. Only because we didn’t have the money for it but we might be able to scrape some up before baby is born if that would make a positive difference. (i know it should be done anyway, please note we are very responsible with her, in the meantime, while she is in heat so no lectures on how long it is taking us please)

Darwin's avatar

We just never left the baby and the pets alone together ever. We also kept the door to the baby’s room closed so it was a pet-free zone. In addition, we periodically introduced baby to pets and pets to baby so both could learn how to treat each other.

casheroo's avatar

We only had to worry about how our cats would react, and we weren’t even that worried. We allowed them to have free range of the nursery before the baby came, they just felt it was extra room to run around like maniacs.
When our son was born, our cats wanted to sniff him..but that was the extent of it. They would lay near him when he was small, but cats don’t like quick movement which babies/toddlers are known for.

My parents dog (which used to be mine) loved our son instantly. He’s a min-pin, and I’ve never once been afraid to leave them to play. He was really jealous if my mother held my son but that wasn’t a big deal. It was more of a he’d stare and give her looks and whine..never got violent.

I would get your dog spayed…that procedure is really not that much money, lots of places offer it cheaply.

The biggest issue is when babies get bigger and don’t really know their own strength. My son now has to be really careful or he can hurt the dog. You just have to teach them to be responsible pet owners at a young age.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@casheroo For some people a hundred dollars is a lot of money especially when they are expecting a child and they are saving up for a big surgery (kidney donation), I did appreciate your response (and gave it lurve :) ) but just thought I would say that. Also that I asked to please not say anything to us about how long it has taken as we know it is something we should be getting done.

mcbealer's avatar

Worry not, it all sounds very promising really. Tilly, my dog, was not spayed either until later in life (I think she was 4 years old at the time, but that’s another story). She is a border collie-black lab mix, about 45 lbs and the best 40 bucks I ever spent.

I understand so much what you’re feeling, because even in those 5 short months, she and I bonded very closely. Since I knew the baby was coming soon, I got a jump start on training with her. Housebreaking was a complete nightmare (my first time!) but by the time she was 6 months old she had an understanding of basic commands and recognized several hand signals. These hand signals became indispensible later in life when she became deaf BTW. The reason I’m writing all this is to illustrate how intelligent and responsive she is. Ultimately, it made the transition very very easy.

It sounds like you’ve done a great job thus far with socialization. It is very important that you both continue to expose her to new people, situations although life is about to get very hectic.

Your dog’s breeds are well known to be loyal and good around kids. As your baby becomes a toddler you will be amazed how your dog tries to herd the baby. Fun times ahead! I really think everything should be OK. I have a horrible sense of smell, and Tilly would always signal when it was time to change a poppy diaper. She would follow the baby around and I quickly learned what that meant!!

Here’s kinda what I did with my dogs:
– continue to develop her training
– make sure she gets plenty of exercise
– do not play and do not allow anyone to play tug of war type games with her
– make sure she and the baby are well supervised at feeding times
– from day one make sure she is not allowed to jump up when people are holding the baby
– as the baby grows up, make sure you don’t let her jump up on the baby to say hello
– try to keep the family and friends streaming in regularly – that way she won’t become territorial
– take lots and lots of pictures.
– make sure you continue to spend time with her and just her alone every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes per day.
– go for lots of walks !! February is a bit cold, but once you hit spring, take advantage of the warmer temps and take baby and dog for walks together… they will make for priceless memories years from now

rooeytoo's avatar

It is always better to err on the side of caution. As Darwin said, I would not allow the dog to be alone with the baby. Of course, introduce the dog to the baby but with supervision. Get a gate to put across the door to the baby’s room or else keep the door closed.

My young female dog was raised in the Aboriginal town camp and of course there the dogs and kids all play together. So she is used to and loves the little Aboriginal kids that she meets, but she never saw little white kids and she just doesn’t know what to make of them. She has very high prey drive so I am very careful at all times but especially with the little white kids.

SpatzieLover's avatar

We have three dogs. All three were thrilled to have a baby join the home. When we set down our new baby in his car seat one dog went to protect our son instantly, one dropped a treat in his lap to welcome him, and the third couldn’t stop kissing his hands & feet.

Our cats just stared at him for the first 6mos.

@RedPowerLady before you leave the hospital with the baby, have your husband bring home a blanket that was wrapped around your babe so she can get a good smell of him before he arrives home.

If you are in a calm submissive state while she’s in the room with the baby, then she will be in a calm submissive state, too. Remain calm & in control.


PandoraBoxx's avatar

I agree with @SpatzieLover, bring home something that smells like the baby first, to acclimate the dog. When you bring the baby home, put the baby down on the floor in the car seat, and let the dog sniff the baby while you are petting the dog, and saying good dog.

Make sure you treat the dog as you normally would, and not push it away, or act impatient, and you should be fine. We had a sheltie with babies, and everyone got along fine. When they started walking, he would herd them.

sakura's avatar

Congratulations on the pregnancy,
We did it the other way round and had to introduce our dog to our toddler, which was a little difficult at first, more for out daughter than the dog.

Remember to give the dog its own space and as your child gets older teach them not to distrub that space, this way the dag will always feel it has somewhere to go if it feels its being pestered!! (we had to do this at first as our daughter just wanted to cuddle our dog all the time- dog loved it, but soon wanted its own space!)

Try to be as relaxed as possible when the 2 are in the same room, I’m not sure its a good idea leaving them in the same room together whilst the baby is young as dogs like to sleep were it is warm and may lay too close, or on top if the baby.

Hold the baby close (leave in car seat) let the dog have a good sniff, she will probably get bored soon enough!
The only worry with not being spayed is if your dog gets broody around the baby, we haven’t had our dog castrated yet either as we can’t afford £200

Good luck with the pregancy and adapting to having a baby around the home!!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@PandoraBoxx I was raised by my sheltie. She wouldn’t let me walk on the drive way, or “too far” into the front of my yard near the road. She also let me ride her like a pony ;)

SpatzieLover's avatar

@RedPowerLady please have your dog spayed before she’s age 5–6. If money is a concern find out if the HSUS near you has a vet they use for spaying, often that vet will do a discount spay

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SpatzieLover I am already quoting the low-income clinic. But year 5–6 is a long way away. Also I did make a little note to please not lecture on the spaying as I plan on doing it when we have the money.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@RedPowerLady Gotcha. I hadn’t re-read the description, just knew I didn’t mention that yesterday.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

I just thought I should comment about the whole spaying topic. I had my dog spayed, not only because I didn’t want her having pups but also because I heard that it would calm her down significantly. It didn’t. Not even a little. So don’t depend only on spaying the dog to make it safe for the baby. Introducing the dog to the baby slowly and calmly is important. And I personally wouldn’t ever (no matter how much you trust the dog) leave them alone together.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 Thank you. I also don’t see how it is very relevant to this discussion in particular but if someone cares to explain why it is then I’ll listen. Of course we do want to spay her for the sake of animal rights, not wanting her to have pups and increase the pet population, so we will do it. Just haven’t yet and it is on our list of expenses to save for.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@RedPowerLady Yeah I just didn’t want you to get your hopes up that spaying her would definitely have a big impact on her behavior. I was so disappointed to learn that my dog was just as hyper and crazy as before :( I’m so glad you asked this question though. My fiancé and I have been concerned with the same issue. We want to start a family in the near future but our one dog is just so hyper. I worry how she will respond to a baby in our home. She doesn’t know her own strength sometimes. I’m very weary of having a small infant around such a powerful dog.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 I really don’t know much about spaying and how it affects a dog’s personality. I thought of asking that question. Your experience is helpful to me in knowing that it does not mean it’ll change the personality.

Is your dog just a hyper personality or is it because she needs constant stimulation?
I’m not suggesting you don’t stimulate your dog, lol. I just know our dog is a hyper breed and sometimes she goes bezerk when we forget to take her to the dog park or all her toys end up chewed up, you know the typical reasons.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@RedPowerLady It’s not so much that she needs constant stimulation. If it’s just me and my fiancé home, she is the calmest, sweetest dog ever. But when visitors come over she goes nuts. I think the problem is that she didn’t get enough training with that as a puppy. We should’ve tried to introduce her to new people more often. And we have had children come to visit in the past but I’m just uncomfortable with her being so strong and hyper near them. She has pushed them right over! She doesn’t mean to but she has no idea what personal space means! Lol. I’m not sure how to break her of this habit. It’s very frustrating. I worry that her behavior won’t improve in time for us to start a family :(

RedPowerLady's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 Maybe that would be a good question for Fluther. We have taught our dog to stay off people but she only listens for me and hubby. When my mother comes over she gets so super excited that she jumps all over her. And my mother is disabled… We tell her no and make her stay down but she doesn’t seem to get it. That is usually because our mother isn’t firm with our dog. I don’t want others to have to tell her to stay down, she needs to learn how to stay down even when excited. I guess we need to train her more. She understands the “down” command but just sometimes seems too excited to be able to listen. I totally get this!

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@RedPowerLady Well I’m glad I’m not alone with these issues!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 & @RedPowerLady
I’d say you both need to be watching or reading Cesar Milan ;)

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SpatzieLover I’ve watched him and find him very entertaining. Some of his methods work very well. I’ve also read articles that critique some of his methods and agree with some of what they say so I prefer not to follow him in totality.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Just sounds to me like both of you have issues with getting your dogs to be calm & submissive. He teaches that well to humans, not dogs

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SpatzieLover My dog is overly submissive when it comes to everything except for when she is overly excited. It is like two extremes. Most of the time she listens very well. She also obviously sees us as the dominant ones as she often will lay on her back and expose her stomach when we give her a command or correct her (not yelling but firm voice). However when she is overly excited she seems nearly deaf. I can typically get her to knock it off fairly easy if she is in a confined space like our home. But the issue is when she does it to other people she will not listen to them (when she is overly excited that is. I would like to teach her to not get that way around other people. She is fine with strangers but it is people who are happy to see her like my mother where she just gets so excited she bounces off the walls. Anyhow so the submissive part we got down. The calm part not so much. Then again we have a breed that is known for being hyper.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@RedPowerLady Are you anxious or excited when your mom comes over? I take it your mom gives her attention even when she is in the very excited state, then. That just reinforces her excited behavior and then the jumping continues.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@SpatzieLover Typically I’m sitting in the living room and she just comes in to the room our dog spends her time in. So the dog wouldn’t even know my reaction.

Yes you are correct about my mother’s behavior. I tell her that it reinforces it but she does not listen. At that point our dog often chooses to be excited vs. listening to us and calming down. For example we will tell her to go to bed when she is excited like that. She’ll run over to her bed lay down for a split second and run back. Argh! So now she does this too often when excited. It typically takes two of us to adequately address this behavior. One of us will help my mother into the living room (where the dog cannot go) or talk with her about what she wants. And the other has to stay at the bed to make sure she stays there.

Val123's avatar

I think it’s important not to leave any dog alone with a baby or a toddler…..

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