Dog Bite Prevention for Expectant Families*
Before the Baby Arrives
A playful pounce, an errant paw, a gentle tug... dog actions that seem cute now can be of concern with a baby in the picture. Before the baby arrives is the best time to acquaint the dog with appropriate behavior and routines so the dog won’t be punished, isolated and confused later.
- Create a cozy den – get a crate and teach the dog to love it.
- Brush up on obedience skills – use lots of food rewards so that the dog enjoys the sessions.
- Vary feeding and walking schedules and accustom the dog to increased periods of alone time.
- Carry a doll and practice commands while your hands are full. Reward for sit, down and calmness around the doll.
- Accustom the dog to walking beside the stroller and behaving calmly around other baby equipment, such as swings and seats.
- Introduce your dog to baby sounds, scents and equipment before baby arrives
The big day is finally here! The dog will sense something is afoot and will probably be anxious.
- Have Dad bring home a blanket with the baby’s scent and put it on the doll; allow the dog to investigate and reward calm behaviour.
- Have Dad or your dog’s daycare provider a friend tire the dog out with a strenuous exercise session earlier in the homecoming day.
- Mom should come in first and greet the dog while Dad stays outside with the baby.
- When the dog is calm bring in baby and drop treats on the floor around Dad’s feet for the dog to take.
- If the dog is too excited – do not punish –move away and work on obedience with a food reward or put him in the crate with a fabulous stuffed bone or stuffed Kong.
- Ensure all experiences the dog has around the baby are positive – punishment could result in aggression toward the baby.
- The dog may have to observe the baby from the crate for a few days – be patient.
*Adapted from materials developed by our friends at www.doggonesafe.com