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Kyna

Introducing a (human) baby into a household

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Hi there,

 

Our friends are having two human babies due in the spring and they have been doing some research into how best to introduce the baby into the household with the dog. I believe that the paradigm they are choosing to follow is diametrically opposed to what we did with my sister and I would very much like to hear the diverse opinions that may be out there.

 

The dog is about 2yrs old, rescue, he is likely a yellow lab husky cross and, according to our friends he is lovely. He is generally well behaved, likes to be close but he doesn’t sleep on the furniture. They have been watching Cesar (we don’t have cable and I have never seen him) and in accordance with his advice they plan to: 1. Keep the dog out of the babies room entirely. 2. Not allow the dog to sniff or approach the baby unless the baby is being held. I could see this advice as relevant if the dog were aggressive – but I guess you never know. I think that a dog that is used to following a person around the house may become insecure if new areas are out of bounds. They are however, working with the dog in preparation for the big day so there won’t be an overnight change.

 

My sister has a now 15 year old Border Collie. When he was 5 she had her first baby and he didn’t adjust very well and became a bit of a lunger and generally ornery. When she was pregnant with her second we consulted our dog trainer (who I know and respect). She said to start including the dog in everything and that the dog was likely feeling left out – i.e. if she went to the bathroom to change the diaper, invite the dog to follow her, allow the dog in the kid’s room for story time etc. We also had to do some ‘who’s the boss training’ in the form of feeding the dog one piece of his dinner at a time and making him sit or lie-down between each piece of kibble – which I did for 3 weeks. It was amazing the difference it made in my sisters dogs behaviour.

 

I understand the separation if you suspect allergies or aggression – but I am wondering if my friends method would alienate the dog. I am sure a certain degree of flexibility is required dependent upon the personality of the dog.

 

I look forward to hearing what other folks believe is the best way to successfully introduce a baby to a household with an existing dog.

 

Thanks!

 

Kyna

P.S. one of these days I'll introduce our dogs to the boards!

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well, I'll tell you what worked for me! I had 5 dogs when my daughter was born almost 6 years ago: 2 borders, 2 lhasas, and a papillon. The 1st thing I did was enforce a no dog on the furniture rule (that went over SO well with the lhasas) and then I worked some on general manners. When I brought my daughter home from the hospital my husband held her outside the house and I went in and greeted the pack. They were very excited and I could deal with them without worrying about bumping my daughter, etc. I also let them follow me around when I had her. They could come into her room if invited, etc. I also had the "baby corral." I got two expens and put them together in a huge square with a new area rug and this was the baby's private floorspace. She could have tummy time, etc., without curious wet noses poking around and the dogs didn't get into trouble for being curious. As she grew older, she got used to seeing the dogs and they got used to seeing her at eye level. Of course my daughter spent time all over the house and wasn't always confined, but it was nice to have her dog free zone. I also think it helped the dogs get used to her because with the exception of a fenced off area, they could wander around the house as usual. I didn't suddenly confine them to one area or have to stick them outside when she was on the floor, etc. Once she started walking, the fence came down. I always supervised any interaction between her and the pack, but it was very peaceful for the most part. When we adopted our son this past summer he was 11 mos. old. The baby corral went back up. He'd never seen a dog and I wasn't sure how he'd react...once again, he had a secure area to get to know them and since our pack had changed (now 3 borders and a PON), the 2 dogs who had never seen an infant got to see how one moves, what they sound like, etc. Once he was really walking, the corral came down. I'm happy to report that he loves the dogs and they love him!

 

I tried really hard not bring home a baby and bamn! completely change the dogs' day to day routine. We made some adjustments prior to the baby, but really took advantage of those early months when baby was home to GRADUALLY introduce any necessary changes. Like I said, I had no problem with dogs in the nursery as long as they came only when invited. We pretty much did everything together....and both of my children have spent a great deal of time eating all meals with various dogs sacked out under the highchair waiting for goodies! I also made sure that the dogs got lots of attention when baby was sleeping...they still see the evenings after the kids are in bed as "our time."

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I'm curious about this topic as well. We plan on having at least one child in the future, and with 5 dogs I am already starting to worry about how to handle a baby and the dogs!

 

I have read that it is good to introduce the baby at eye level to the dogs, rather than always keeping the baby up higher than the dogs. Not sure though. I definitely wouldn't leave a baby on the floor with a dog, even if I was in the same room. Things can happen so fast, you might not have time to react if a dog decided to attack.

 

I just took a book out from the library about dog fatalities. I forget the exact name - it has been at work for browsing during breaks. It has a bunch of incidents and statistics. SO many babies and children are killed by family dogs that showed no prior aggression towards the new baby or children in the household. Many were family pets for more than 5 years and all it took was seconds for the dog to kill a baby or child.

 

Luckily, Border Collies weren't in the top 25 breeds of reported fatalities. Many of the deaths of older children involved dogs that were chained or abused. But most of the infant deaths were due to family dogs who were indoor dogs and much loved by their families.

 

Kind of scary.

 

My husband has a Siberian Husky, and wouldn't you know, there were something like 17 fatalities caused by Huskies in the year that this book is looking at - I think 2002. And almost all of them were infants under 2 months of age. Most of the Huskies were family pets - not chained or abused animals. I remember one was malnourished and the owner set the baby on the floor and walked away. The dog ate most of the baby. The mother did admit that the dog hadn't eaten in 5 or 6 days.

 

I can get the name of the book if anyone is interested.

 

Sorry to be so negative here with this death info - just make sure the baby is never left unsupervised with the dogs.

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I had a baby almost 11 months ago, and we have a lot of dogs, mostly big and boisterous, and some who were used to sleeping on the bed. What has worked for us:

 

We've segregated most of the house so the dogs just go in the back living/dining room, all bedrooms and lounge are off-limits. I didn't want to do that, but it gave us a buffer zone in case the bedroom door was left open. The dogs would wander in and nose in the nappy bucket +/or lick the baby's face and wake him up, so using baby gates to restrict them was necessary.

 

I made sure I walked the house dogs every day after the baby was born, and had people come over to play with them when I wasn't up to it. I didn't make a fuss about the baby or introducing the dogs to them, he just suddenly appeared when the dogs were enjoying their day. Early on we could tell which dogs were interested, which were overexcited and which weren't bothered.

 

Life is much harder now he's mobile- the worst thing is that he loves the dogs and follows them around, and he's easily knocked over. We've also had to put the dogs outside at mealtimes or he feeds them all his dinner from his highchair. Oh yeah, and he'd eat their food if he could get it and they chew all his toys. So some separation is a very good thing.

 

I'd suggest getting the dog used to going outside, being outside as a pleasant thing, as well as sleeping/eating in a baby-free zone, before the bub arrives.

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Wow. I knew that dog bites were very common in children but I didn't know infant fatalities were that prevelant.

 

It seems like a combination of management techniques have worked for all of you. I am just really pleased that our friends are taking this so seriously, so many people 'don't get it'. In my original post I mentioned that I hand fed my sisters dog by hand, while I was doing that my three year old neice hand fed my 1 year old dog (I got her at 8 wks - the dog not my neice :rolleyes: ). It was the best training she could have ever gotten. Our agility instructor, who started his career working with aggresive dogs has children and takes care of Isla when we are out of town - he has assured me that Isla is solid around children - I often argue that because you never know. Anyway she is very good. Our younger dog came from a stock dog trialer (first dog they have ever let go to a pet home because he was such a cuddle monkey - we got him at 1 yr) - anyway I don't have the same trust level with him. Some of our friends and family just don't get it - I tell the parents, then I end up nagging the kids, then I end up telling the parents. Now, with the new dog

I don't invite people who don't get to our house or cabin or I put the dogs away in our room or in their crates. It's not worth it.

 

Thanks for your posts - it is great to hear what other folks are doing!

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Wow. I knew that dog bites were very common in children but I didn't know infant fatalities were that prevelant.

There have been a couple of babies killed by family dogs in Australia in the last year or so- one a husky, one a rottie, both babies were very young (under 8 weeks I think) and the dogs were much loved family pets who'd only recently been introduced to the child. In both cases, the baby was in its cot or bassinet for a sleep, parents were outside or elsewhere in the house, and apparently they thought the baby room door was shut and/or the dog was outside.

 

I can just presume the baby woke up or started making some interesting noise and kicked off some prey-drive thing with the dogs. I know my cattle dog (who is quite predatory with rats/rabbits etc) raced around looking for the small squeaky animal the first few times he heard my baby cry. He seemed to chill out and get used to it quickly, but I've heard of other dogs that haven't. Someone suggested taping a newborn's cries and playing it regularly before the bub is born to help desensitise the dog. And that's part of the reason I like to have a couple of doors or baby gates between dogs and baby- just in case one gets left open.

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I think the key factor in having kids and dogs together is absolute vigilance. You can NEVER allow them to be together unsupervised. It can be done but it is had work. I've had two mishaps since my daughter was born. When my daughter was 2 she poured a cup of hot tea down the back of my older bc girl (I was about 5 feet away and had left the mug where she could reach it) but I was lucky in the fact that the tea wasn't that hot and my girl wasn't badly burned. Her skin turned pink and I felt horrible because I had failed to protect her. Another time my daughter was sitting on the kitchen floor and I made the mistake of telling the dogs to go outside. MY 18 mos. old bc boy mowed right over her in his excitement to go outside. Luckily she wasn't hurt and again, I felt horrible. Sooo....it's a balancing act to keep dogs and children safe from each other!

 

It is worth it, though, in the long run. Even though my youngest child is just 18 mos. old, he really enjoys being around the dogs, throwing the ball for them, talking to them, etc. He's learning not bother them when they go in their crates, not to grab noses, coat, ears, tails, etc. They're learning not to plow into him and to watch what their doing when they back up. Oh yes...he's also learning to use a napkin when his hands are messy during dinner instead of hanging his hands over the side of the highchair to have them licked clean. Blech....you could tell he was so proud when he discovered this particular method of hand washing!

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Sooo....it's a balancing act to keep dogs and children safe from each other!

Here's me getting the balance wrong:

bbowlsj.jpg

 

But my son loves the dogs, which is fortunate given how much of our lives are tied up with them. I just hope it keeps up.

With his favourite dog, my collie Bill, who loves him right back:

lawnposeedit.jpg

whisperedit.jpg

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Awwwww.....what great pictures!!!!!! Here's one of our crew...everyone scrubbed up and posing...it only took us 135 shots to get this one!DSC_2808.jpg

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well, I'll tell you what worked for me! I had 5 dogs when my daughter was born almost 6 years ago: 2 borders, 2 lhasas, and a papillon. The 1st thing I did was enforce a no dog on the furniture rule (that went over SO well with the lhasas) and then I worked some on general manners. When I brought my daughter home from the hospital my husband held her outside the house and I went in and greeted the pack. They were very excited and I could deal with them without worrying about bumping my daughter, etc. I also let them follow me around when I had her. They could come into her room if invited, etc. I also had the "baby corral." I got two expens and put them together in a huge square with a new area rug and this was the baby's private floorspace. She could have tummy time, etc., without curious wet noses poking around and the dogs didn't get into trouble for being curious. As she grew older, she got used to seeing the dogs and they got used to seeing her at eye level. Of course my daughter spent time all over the house and wasn't always confined, but it was nice to have her dog free zone. I also think it helped the dogs get used to her because with the exception of a fenced off area, they could wander around the house as usual. I didn't suddenly confine them to one area or have to stick them outside when she was on the floor, etc. Once she started walking, the fence came down. I always supervised any interaction between her and the pack, but it was very peaceful for the most part. When we adopted our son this past summer he was 11 mos. old. The baby corral went back up. He'd never seen a dog and I wasn't sure how he'd react...once again, he had a secure area to get to know them and since our pack had changed (now 3 borders and a PON), the 2 dogs who had never seen an infant got to see how one moves, what they sound like, etc. Once he was really walking, the corral came down. I'm happy to report that he loves the dogs and they love him!

 

I tried really hard not bring home a baby and bamn! completely change the dogs' day to day routine. We made some adjustments prior to the baby, but really took advantage of those early months when baby was home to GRADUALLY introduce any necessary changes. Like I said, I had no problem with dogs in the nursery as long as they came only when invited. We pretty much did everything together....and both of my children have spent a great deal of time eating all meals with various dogs sacked out under the highchair waiting for goodies! I also made sure that the dogs got lots of attention when baby was sleeping...they still see the evenings after the kids are in bed as "our time."

 

Great idea! I like how the dogs get to be near the baby but with a barrier. I'm taking notes.

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First, a disclaimer. I do not have children and never have, so don't consider me personally to be an expert in this area! :rolleyes: When our best friends were expecting their baby, they consulted the pediatrician, who told them that first of all, human infants have a unique smell that is different from children and adults. So dogs don't necessarily know what IT is when you bring a baby home. They cannot idenity the baby as a human infant by the smell. The doctor told them to bring a blanket that was full of baby's smell home BEFORE the baby came home, and let the dog have it. Let the dog get used to the smell. When the baby comes home, sit on the floor, and put the baby on a blanket right WITH YOU and let the dog sniff the baby, praising the dog for the curious sniffing. Mom and Dad are BOTH RIGHT THERE. (The part about holding the baby when the dog approaches is not bad advice). Then pick up the baby and start your normal activities. This worked perfectly with our friend's dog, a male Siberian Husky. The dog and the baby, then child, were best buddies. Always supervise closely when dog and baby are in the same room. Don't give the dog free run of the house so you always know where dog is in relation to the baby. But I think isolating the dog completely from the baby's room is NOT a good idea. I agree with the person who said to let the dog go in the nursery WITH YOU. If the dog is part of the baby's life, as suggested, the dog will often become protective of the baby and turn into the child's best friend, as the Husky did.

 

Kathy Robbins

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Great idea! I like how the dogs get to be near the baby but with a barrier. I'm taking notes.

 

 

I tell you, the baby corral was GREAT! I don't know about other people's dogs, but if I sit on the floor, I'm surrounded by curious faces looking at me like "whatcha doing? Can we join you? Huh? Huh? Huh?" So I knew that if the baby was on the floor, they'd do the same thing...which would lead to lots of corrections, telling the dogs to go lie down, etc. This way they could stand/sit right up by the fence and watch WITHOUT getting in trouble. I tried to set them up for sucess. As the child gets more mobile they can go over the fence and start to interact. Usually the first thing that happens is that a bc drops a tennis ball over the fence....then the baby picks it up and licks it...blech! But VERY soon the dogs bring a ball and the baby learns to drop it back outside the fence...dogs drop it back in...baby puts it back out....everyone has fun and I can sit and watch and be very relaxed about it. When the corral came down, with both children, the adjustment was fine. The dogs were already used to them and didn't run over to nose them....they just went about their business. The children were also used to the dogs.

 

On another note....babies grow up! Babies turn into toddlers and then preschoolers....and at each stage they have lots and lots of toys! Here's the house rule regarding toys and dogs that made for fewer tears and tantrums on the part of the children. Once the child is old enough to fully understand, if they leave a toy out and the dogs eat it, oh well! Bye bye toy! If they put a toy up and the dogs manage to find it and eat it, mom buys them a replacement asap. My 5 year old picks up her toys REALLY fast when I tell her the dogs are coming in! Now the 18 mos. old is still feeding his toys to the dogs, but the only victims so far have been some Playskool Little People. :rolleyes:

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Guest SweetJordan

I'll tell you what everyone in my family has done(including what my parents did).... nothing. Nothing that is except to supervise. Recently we have had a new addition to our extended family. My labby did what he always does when meeting a baby. He walks up to baby wagging his tail, sniffs the baby gently, gives the baby a little lick on the leg or arm and then walks away. Now Riley approached very gently as well, but was much more interested. He stuck out his hands, Riley then licked them. Then I told her that's enough and she stopped. Then he reached for her and she licked his hands again. He was smiling and laughing and kept coming back for more. I guess he liked that her tongue was a new touch. So we supervised closely but let them have their fun. He grapped Riley on the neck and she didn't even flinch. Then he tried to grap her to stick her nose in his mouth, but I grapped her quickly before that happened. Then he was watching her play(Riley got everyone in our family to play w/ her). He found that really interesting and was again smiling and laughing. I was really suprised at how much she like him, I know she loves preschoolers but didn't know how much she liked infants. Most dogs don't enjoy babies that much. The baby lives w/ a dog, but I guess the dog just ignores the baby though isn't too happy because the poor dog doesn't get any attention or exercise any more.

 

I can understand being cautious though esp. since a baby can sound like prey to a dog and so fourth. I think a lot of people get in trouble not supervising, and by ignoring the dog and casting the dog aside once the baby comes along. I have friends who have a 26 month old baby. And they didn't do anything either. They just make sure to include the dog(they even put the baby and dog toys in the same basket neither seems to mind), and to supervise. Their dog is a bigger girl so on occasion she will accidently knock him over, but they said she's usually pretty good about watching where he's at.

 

Oh and one last story. My mom knew someone who had a young child. The child was 2 or 3 and she took her eyes off of the child and the child was no where to be found, and apparently left the yard. How that happens I don't know, but I guess accidents do. Anyway, the child went around the block and the dog followed behind poking the child gently back toward his house.

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First, a disclaimer. I do not have children and never have, so don't consider me personally to be an expert in this area!

I don't have kids either. In fact, just about the only area I have any expertise in is bookmarking useful internet sites. Here are two related sites you might find of value:

 

doggone safe, an organization dedicated to dog bite prevention. Includes a page titled "Bringing Home Baby - Is Your Dog Prepared?", as well as some actual dog bite statistics for the US (from the CDC) and Canada (from Health Canada).

 

Dogs and Storks, website of a trainer who specializes in "dogs & kids" and who sells an instructional CD about preparing your dog for life with a baby.

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As one who has had two kids (now grown), this would be my advice if a problem develops: keep the dog, and put the kids up for adoption, preferably before they become teenagers.

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Our old country vet told us to give the dogs a dirty diaper. Trust me they sniffed it, pawed it and destroyed it. The dogs were Lab, golden retriever crosses. I allowed them to see the baby, smell the baby. I monitored interactions. I have pictures of my firstborn laying down with Libby. My son was 11 months and toddling. He was laying down and she decided to curl up next to him. Guess she decided to make sure he was warm since is was winter again. She was practically his other mother. She babies any baby. Later with my first BC, Maggie she just took to the newborn Jared as if he was hers. No real introductions there. With Tuck also a BC , my last child was a baby when he came to me as a baby. He considered it his business to inform me when her diaper was dirty. His nose never left her bottom and she was not too happy with him about it but she still loved him. Sam is also fine with the kids but he has been with them since he came to us.

 

To this day I still monitor my children. Ex. Reminding "No messing with dogs while they eat". You don't want someone playing with your food so leave their's alone. No running up to strange dogs. No tail pulling etc. In all this Libby is Bomb proof. The kids can lay on her and she is fine with it. Sam is smaller and snarls are them if they put their weight on him. Course, Mama snarls too. Between his snarl and my snarl the younger two have realized they are too heavy for Sam and that HURTS. Now they watch their steps and don't put their weight on him. He in turn is enjoying playing games with them. <-< Ring around Mama's kitchen. Sam with ball in mouth following right along in all the chasing good fun.

 

The dogs and cats have been allowed in kids/babies room but not in cribs.

 

One thing I would say is don't tense up, relax. I think dogs and babies have this in common, If you are stressed/tense, so are they. Enjoy the babies. They grow up too soon.

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