Introducing Baby To Rover

During my childhood, I remember almost always having an animal in our house. Cats, dwarf frogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, piranhas, dogs, and even a snake have shared the same living space. Mine were the rabbits and guinea pigs only (and a blue heeler dog that humped all my stuffed animals. We gave him back quite quickly). I loved all of the things I learned with these animals, and I enjoy thinking back to all the great memories I had. Presently, my family owns a dog that is half rottweiler and half black lab. She’s in her twelfth year and is truly the kindest and most caring animal I could ask for. She has a big bark to scare just about anyone, but has never hurt a soul.

Photo courtesy of Kristina C

Recently, in a town about 25 km from where I live, a family had brought home their newborn baby boy from the hospital. A few days later, their husky attacked the baby and the baby was rushed to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. I was so deeply saddened when I heard the story on the way to work. The mother went through nine months of pregnancy and then labour, as well as the happiness shared within their whole circle of family and friends, and it was so quickly taken away from her. It got me thinking about ways to prevent these types of accidents from happening. I visited Cesar Millan's website, as he is the Dog Whisperer, and I learned a lot. I will outline a few of the main points. These are techniques that ANYONE who has an animal can learn. If you don’t have children of your own, it’s possible that a friend who has children may come over to your home one day, too, so please educate yourself.

Cesar says it’s important to focus on leadership. The dog owner must be confident for the animal to understand that he or she is the pack leader. It’s also important to break the dog of any unwanted habits. Also, animals are very in-tune with emotions and will will actually mirror your emotions. So if you’re excited, your animal will be excited as well. But like small children, dogs may express their emotions in unacceptable ways if not controlled.

Photo courtesy of "amblin"

Cesar also suggests bringing something from the hospital home with your baby’s scent on it and going through some exercises with your animal. Allow your dog to only sniff from afar in order to teach boundaries. The dog will learn that it needs your permission to sniff up close and that it does not have full, limitless access to that scent.
If your dog is an indoor dog, don’t allow access into the baby’s room without your permission at any time. Cesar calls it an ‘invisible barrier’. Keep the room restricted at first and then slowly allow the dog into the room with your supervision. It will teach the dog that this room is off limits.

The introduction is very important, as well. It’s important for it to be very controlled and for your dog to be in a calm, submissive mode. A long walk will help drain your dog from extra energy. If you have already introduced the scent to the dog, it will recognise the scent when brought into the same area as the baby. The mother or father should be holding the baby and must be in a calm, assertive state. Allow the dog only to sniff from a distance at first, and then slowly allow him to come closer in a very controlled and supervised environment.

Photo courtesy of ximenacab

At the end of the day, a dog is a dog. I never allow my kids, even though they are 4 and 2 now, to be alone with our dog at any time. I always ensure I am within 10 feet of them and watching the behaviour of both the dog and the kids. Children like to explore and they won’t know they are hurting or bothering the animal, and animals will react if aggravated. Dog attacks on babies and children are quite common, and it breaks my heart to hear about them. Let’s do our part in preventing them.

Link to Cesar Millan website: