By Tina Bray
There are thousands of reasons why pets, or puppies, in particular, are beneficial for babies. However, you need to carefully prepare and do a lot of things like training both babies and puppies to interact with each other, cleaning pet hair off your living space, and so on.
There is a common question: “Will my baby and my dog play with each other without an accident?” My answer is definitely yes. Nevertheless, this requires a lot of time, training, and supervision.
Dogs can be our best friends, but you still need to do lots of training before you combine babies and puppies.
What is the appropriate age to introduce babies and puppies?
The first question you need to consider is your puppy’s age. Never expect to pair a 3-month-old dog to be your baby’s close friend. Instead, the puppy should be at least six months old because at that stage, he or she has finished teething, which reduces your infant’s risk for unexpected injury.
You also should consider your child’s age. Is your baby mature enough to understand and follow rules? Don’t get attached to the idea of having your child and puppy grow up together and put both in danger.
Basic puppy training
Before introducing babies and puppies, make sure the puppy is well mannered. Make sure your puppy responds to basic commands and has the following list of skills before you introduce the puppy to your baby:
- Ensure your puppy will respond to your cues and will sit or lie on the floor on command.
- Be sure your puppy knows the baby’s equipment and toys are off limits.
- Get your dog used to common baby noises including crying.
- Familiarize your puppy with your baby’s scent. My advice is to apply baby lotion to the car seat, baby carrier and other items.
- Familiarize your puppy with all family members and the babysitter.
Teach your baby to respect your puppy
Apart from training for your dog, make sure you teach your child to be calm and well-behaved rather than violent or aggressive.
- Teach your baby not to poke the puppy or pull its ears and tail
- Teach your baby to approach the dog slowly not too quickly. Children are easily excited and will run toward animals, which can frighten your puppy.
- Teach your baby to leave your puppy alone when she’s sleeping.
- Spend quiet time reading together! Dogs, in general, are non-judgmental and amazing listeners, which could help inspire your puppy to behave the same way.
Other notes for parents
Besides those tips, consider the following other factors:
- Prevent your baby from making face-to-face contact with the puppy.
- Never let your baby play with a dog without adult supervision. Dogs are more likely to attack if they feel threatened or if they view small children look like prey.
- Spend at least 10 minutes per day on dog training.
- Make sure your dog has his or her place with special toys.
- Keep your home clean and keep baby hair off your baby’s toys, bed, clothes and other items to reduce risk of asthma attack.
- Consult a professional if your puppy behaves strangely or aggressively.
Pairing babies and puppies early provides many benefits for children. Not only do they learn compassion and responsibility, being exposed to dogs also can reduce risk of allergies and obesity. Just be sure to do it carefully and cautiously to ensure the experience is good for both babies and puppies.
Tina Bray created Thedoghere.com to share all the things you need to know about dogs. Visit her blog for more tips. She’s pictured with her dog Pip.