Dogs are part and parcel of the family without any degree of separation. Some people will even admit to equating their furry friends with their children.
Scientists infer that interacting with pets increases our chances of prolonged life.
While we love our family pets so dearly and appreciate each moment we spend with them, pets can also wreak havoc on a home when they roam freely around the home.
According to the Center for Disease Control, over four million people are bitten by dogs every year, with some bites requiring interventions like reconstructive surgery. How do you balance your love for dogs and the safety of your little ones?
In this article, we discuss ideas on how to ensure baby safety around dogs in the home.
Training your dog is essential to a peaceful co-existent of the dog and humans at home. Whether you adopt from the shelter or inherit one from your neighbor, the first step is to take them through behavioral training. You can train the dog yourself, or hire a trainer.
If you opt for the latter, ensure that you are present for many sessions, so the dog learns to respect you too. Without proper training, dogs have no boundaries and your furry friend will take over your home.
Train your dog to wait for their turn, to eat their dog food in designated areas, to potty in the yard and not in the house, etc. An excellent method of teaching discipline is the learn-to-earn program where you train the animal to sit when they ask for anything.
Sitting implies politeness rather than just barking to communicate. Training your family dog will teach them self-control and acceptance of others, so they will not pounce on the attack.
Prepare dog for baby’s arrival
If your dog is accustomed to being the only one “baby” around the home, he may feel threatened by another little one that demands mummy’s attention.
You can even this out by preparing your dog ahead of the baby’s arrival. Instead of cramming new instructions in the last two weeks, prepare your dog several months out.
When you purchase baby equipment like a carrier or a stroller, place a teddy bear in them and practice moving around as if you were carrying a real baby.
Walk your dog while pushing the stroller and observe how he behaves towards you and the carrier or stroller.
This practice will help you gauge how your dog will act towards your baby, and it gives you a chance to correct any acceptable behavior.
For instance, if the dog lunges at the stroller attempting to see what is inside or trying to topple it over, this signifies that he does not approve of the new addition.
Crating your puppy
Crate training is the process of introducing a designated space where your dog will spend most of his time. The crate or kennel is commonly used for feeding, sleeping and as a playpen during the day.
Crate training helps in setting boundaries around the home, and this comes in handy when there are children involved. Your dog learns to embrace the crate as a safe place where he can hang out.
Crate training works well if you live in close quarters or when you leave the house to run errands at the food market. Crate train your dog before your baby arrives so that he feels secure in his space and does not feel threatened by baby-specific items like a crib or even the nursery.
If your child is a little older and already roaming around the house, teach them to respect the dog’s space too. They need to stay away from the crate, the dog’s toys, and even his food.
Otherwise, the family dog will put up a fight, and things can go downhill very quickly.
Even with properly trained dogs, they get temperamental too when people do certain things inadvertently or on purpose. For instance, if your baby decides to pull the dog’s tail or ears, the dog may retaliate by scratching the baby.
This behavior is normal even for good breeds that are famous for being good around kids. To ensure child safety around dogs, supervise all interactions and if you are unavailable, keep them separate until you finish chores like cooking dinner or ironing laundry.
Take your dog to the vet
A healthy pet is safe to hang around your baby. Bring your dog to the veterinarian to get a complete health check-up on a regular basis.
The vet will administer vaccines and other shots the dog may require to stave off diseases like rabies, which they can transmit to humans.
Maintain your dog’s hygiene by bathing, grooming his nails, and brushing his fur.
Baby safety around dogs is easy to achieve with the above tips. It is important to let your dog know that you value him as equally as your children. When he does something wrong, as he often will, avoid treating him like a menace. Talk to your dog and explain that his actions are unacceptable.