8 Tips for Baby Proofing Your Dog
1. Introduce your dog to baby sounds crying, cooing etc: Prepare your dog for cooing and crying noises that your baby will make. These noises can excite and stimulate the dog in a negative way. So, you need to make a positive association with those noises before your baby arrives and to do this you will play baby sounds while doing positive/fun things with your dog like training. You can also do something called Treat bar open/Treat bar closed. When the baby noises are on, the treat bar is open and you will click and treat or play or do whatever it is that your dog enjoys and when the baby noises stop (you turn them off) the treat bar is closed. If you are consistent with this, in a few days to a couple weeks you will notice your dog will light up with excitement when he/she hears those baby noises. It's all about creating positive associations for your dog.
2. Introduce your dog to baby items: Put together your stroller, carseat, bounce chair etc and place them around your house as if your baby was home. Allow your dogs to explore them, If your dog is fearful of them say the word “yes” every time your dog interacts with the baby item and feed them a couple of high value treats. You can also help create positive associations with these items by having them in the same area during training sessions.
3. Provide your dog with a safe space: Create a no baby/toddler zone for your dog to escape to in case they feel overwhelmed or need some alone time. You can create a positive association with the safe zone by feeding your dogs meals, providing enrichment, playing some tug of war, or by doing some obedience training while in the area. This can be extremely important when your baby becomes a toddler and is able to crawl/walk, even dogs who love children need a getaway plan when they want a break.
5. Provide your dog with enrichment: There may be times when you can’t get your dog out for their daily walk, so providing them with enrichment such as a puzzle ball, snuffle mat, or a soda pup can filled with PB will promote the release of “happy hormones” which will help calm your dog and prevent frustration/boredom.
6. Reinforce positive behaviors: Dogs learn best when we focus on what they do right instead of what they do wrong. Practice rewarding your dog for calm quiet behaviors, such as settling down around the baby. When we reinforce these calm behaviors you increase the likelihood of them repeating it.
7. Never leave your baby or children unsupervised: Set your pup and little one up for success by making sure that all of their interactions are supervised. In doing so we ensure that their interactions are positive and remain that way. Prevention/management of dog and child interactions is the key to a happy relationship.
8. Never Shun your dog for being interested in your baby: You want to teach your dog to love your baby and if you shun or punish your dog for being interested you will do the exact opposite which will lead to fear/aggression toward your baby. Instead teach them that when the baby is around they get lots of attention in the form of treats, petting, play and anything else that your dog finds enjoyable. If you make these things happen when the baby is present your dog will have a positive association with your baby because all good things happen when they are present.
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