It may be that the dogs were there first and then the babies arrived a little while afterwards, or it may be that you had young children in the house and decided to you wanted them to get used to having pets around as early as possible. Whichever way round it happened, having a household with both children and pets and can be a joy and of huge benefit to both animals and family members alike.
If you want to be sure that all parties derive the maximum benefit, read on to learn a few simple tips to ensure everyone gets along swimmingly.
Introducing a dog to a new baby
If you dog has never spent much time around children, the sights, smells and sounds of a new baby could prove to be a little overwhelming. With all the demands on your time that a new baby will bring, it’s inevitable that you won’t have as much time to spend with your pet or be able to be as attentive as you were in the past.
If your dog has been the animal equivalent of an only child up until that point in your life, the sudden introduction of a new baby could be quite traumatic and stressful for your pet as he or she won’t understand why they are being ignored or at least given far less time an attention.
Preparation is the key. Long before the baby arrives, you need to make sure you have taken the time to teach your dog all the necessary skills. Being certain that your dog can obey basic commands such as sit, stay and always comes when called will go a long way towards making your life easier. If your dog jumps up at guests, make sure you train it out of this habit. If it happens while you are carrying the baby it could be frightening, and you may treat your dog harshly as a result.
Establish a new routine
If you can work out as far in advance as possible what your new routine with the baby is going to be like, you can start making those changes before the child arrives so that you dog can get used to them. If, for example, you usually take your dog out first thing in the morning but plan to switch this to the afternoon once your child arrives, start taking afternoon dog walks as soon as possible.
Of course, life with a baby is rarely predictable so you might want to change up the routine to make your dog less anxious if you are unable to stick to your usual times. This might be especially useful if you have the kind of dog that hovers by its feeding bowl the moment you wake up and expects to receive its breakfast before you do anything else with your day.
Prepare for roughhousing
As children get older, they begin to learn the difference between the stuffed toys on their beds and the living, breathing creatures that roam around the house. Until they learn that difference, babies will often grab a dog’s ears, tail, fur or anything else that is in reach. This kind of treatment can be alarming for a dog, especially if it has always been treated gently in the past, so you need to make sure you pet is fully prepared well in advance.
You can start to gently poke your dog or pull on her ears the way a baby might and then give your dog a treat. The more you reinforce the idea that good things happen in the aftermath of such treatment, the less likely it is that your dog will have a negative reaction to this treatment, or that your child will ended up scared.
Healthy pets, healthy kids
You always want you dog to be in optimum health, but this becomes even more essential when you have young children in the house. While there are only a few diseases that can be transferred from dogs to humans, they most affect those whose immune systems are less robust than usual, such as the very elderly, the very young or those with certain immune deficiency diseases.
On the plus side, you’ll be pleased to know that children who grow up in homes with there is a dog or a cat are less likely to become sick or unwell than those who live pet free. One reason is that having too sanitary an environment is not good for their health. Early exposure to household dust and hair from a dog or cat means your child is less likely to develop asthma and will have a stronger immune system later in life.
As children get older, they begin to derive other benefit from pets. In addition to all the lessons you would expect, such as learning how to responsible for the wellbeing of another creature and developing empathy, pets have also been shown to provide valuable social support for children who are going through stressful situations.
While dog fleas generally prefer to latch themselves onto canines, they will occasionally bite humans instead, and young babies can be especially vulnerable. To protect everyone in your household, check your dog for infestations on a regular basis and buy a high-quality flea med for dogs to keep the parasites at bay. Ensure the treatment you choose is effective against fleas during all stages of their life cycle as this is the only way to prevent the infestation from coming back again.
If you find an infestation in your pet, be sure to use a suitable treatment throughout your entire home as fleas may have buried eggs in a quiet corner and these can stay dormant for weeks or even months before starting a new infestation.
You should also check your pet for the presence of ticks as these will also bite humans and have been known to pass on conditions such as Lyme disease. If you do find any ticks, use tweezers to grasp them as close to the skin of your pet as possible and then remove them without twisting so that the mouth does not get left behind. You can kill live ticks by immersing them in rubbing alcohol.