Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Dogs and Babies

I’m not a dog owner, but I’d always wondered if people with dogs were afraid their pet would attack their newborn baby, especially if they had a large breed of dog. Turns out dog owners do have these fears. An article in the Wall Street Journal by Rachel Zimmerman (June 2, 2008) says that parents are seeking help for this issue in greater numbers by consulting dog trainers, books and DVDs designed to prepare their pooches for the incoming infant. There’s even a course called Dogs & Storks that has 35 trainers located in the U.S. and Canada.

Experts say that part of the blame for our dogs’ adjustment problems lie with us. Because we so often treat our dogs as our first babies—allowing them to sleep with us, go everywhere with us, receive constant attention from us—it’s no wonder that our furry friends object when they’re no longer the center of attention. The article notes that dogs bite about 4.7 million people in the U.S. each year, and most of them are children. Eighty percent of those who are killed by dogs are children. Even if a dog is not aggressive toward a child, the stress of having a new baby in the house might cause bad behavior, such as barking and urinating inside.

So what’s a parent-to-be to do? Some people start treating their dog the way they would when the baby arrives even before the delivery day. For instance, they may take the dog for walks with a stroller (and a doll inside), or they might try ignoring the dog more, not always giving him attention as soon as he demands it. My friend Lisa often took her boxers into the nursery to get them acclimated to the new décor before her daughter arrived. When baby Kristin was still at the hospital, Lisa’s husband brought home a blanket that the baby had used for the dogs to smell. And Lisa didn’t leave the baby alone with the dogs until she felt confident that they had accepted the baby. Kristin is now over a year old, and one of the dogs lets her pull her ears and take her chew toys. The other dog usually just walks away when the baby gets a little rough with her.

Certainly, some parents find they need to find a new home for Rover once the baby arrives. But in most cases, especially with a little preparation, dog and baby can co-exist just fine.

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1 comment:

  1. Hello Susan! I saw that you requested to follow me on Twitter! I'm not really too active on there...so it's kind of a boring place to find me. However if you'd like to pop by and check out my blog, it has FAR more interesting things going on! I seem to have more time to sit down and write one BIG post, as opposed to millions of little quick thoughts!! Incidentally I'm a mom to BBB triplets, as well as GG twins, 13 months apart... I think that might be how you found me originally!

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