Dogs and babies ... these are two of my favorite things! Before Kip came along, Rosie was my world. I took her EVERYWHERE with me. We went on a field trip every day. We spooned at night. Now that I have a baby, Rosie is still my best girlfriend, but she no longer gets all of the attention. I read several articles about introducing dogs to a new baby, but I'm now facing a new challenge: dogs and crawling babies. Rosie was jealous enough when Kip was just an immobile blob. But now that he's mobile and able to barrel towards her, I have a new set of concerns. Yesterday, when Kip crawled up to Rosie, she barked at him. Is this okay? Do I allow her to let her boundaries be known, or do I discipline her, telling her that no aggression toward him is permissible? The majority of the time, they co-exist wonderfully ... especially if Kip has food! But I know that one incident can scar a baby for life.
I know there are several schools of thought, but after doing some research, this is what I learned:
MORE MANAGEMENT. It's a good idea to separate babies and dogs when babies are exploring. Dogs often like to supervise, especially if your little one is touching the dog's belongings.
ESCAPE ROUTES. Rosie is fine if she can get up and go somewhere else. If she's in the corner of a room, she doesn't like Kip to corner her. These are the times I have to be especially on guard. I always want Rosie to be able to choose flight over fight.
GENTLE TOUCHING. My friend told me this from the very beginning - teach your child from day one that gentle is the only way to touch your doggie. That means every time Kip grab Rosie's fur or tries to smack her or god forbid bite her, I have to correct that behavior immediately. I also pick up Kip's hand and pet Rosie gently with it, repeatedly saying "gentle," as well as telling Rosie what a good girl she is. This also applies to every time Rosie is good to Kip - I always reward that good behavior with words of affirmation.
DON'T FORCE CONTACT. If Rosie doesn't seem down with Kip touching her at any point in time, I should allow her to get up and leave. I should never force Rosie to endure contact when she's not comfortable.
SET UP FUN INTERACTIONS. When I'm caring for Kip, I should be giving Rosie attention too, so that she associates Kip with good times. I can do this by playing tug with her while Kip plays with his toys. Or while I'm holding Kip, I can give Rosie a good rub. I also LOVE taking Rosie and Kip to the park together! I try to do this twice a week, weather permitting. And as I mentioned earlier, Rosie loves Kip the most when he feeds her. So, I allow it and encourage it.
My two favorite things can coexist peacefully, but not without me being a good mom and dog mom.