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Bringing a baby home is a joy for everyone in the family. Except for maybe the dog. For many pets, having a brand new tiny human wiggling and crawling around may be much more jarring than expected. Babies are capable of some erratic movements, loud noises, and odd smells. It’s no wonder that a small dog especially might be thrown off with the new body in the home.
While babies and dogs should always be supervised around each other no matter what, some people prefer that the dog give the baby space whenever possible. Maintaining space between baby and your dog may provide a much safer environment for both of them, preventing your best canine friend from harming your baby and vice versa.
Keeping your small dog from invading your baby’s space may prove to be tricky at first, but there are quite a few ways to keep both of your precious family members in each other’s good graces, while also being able to maintain their safety.
This type of training should start as soon as you bring baby home and should persist throughout your dog’s life in order to maintain the manners he learns. The rest of the family in the home should be on board with whichever method of training you choose, as consistency is important for both your baby’s safety and for your dog’s comfort. If necessary, hold a family meeting to clarify expectations and the method you’ve chosen to help your dog maintain a safe distance from your baby when necessary.
Take note of the areas in your home that are set aside for your baby and areas that you can separate for your dog. Both need their own safe areas to reside during quiet times and both will need areas where they can eat or drink in peace.
Once you determine these rooms or areas in your home, get some treats or fun toys together in order to motivate your pup to respond well to your training. Smaller dogs may be mildly stubborn, and if yours has had time to develop habits, it may be more difficult to adapt to new circumstances. Be ready to provide plenty of affection for your dog during this transition period and practice patience when it comes to training.
The Exercise Method
Assess your dog’s energy level
Depending on your dog’s breed, he may need more or less exercise to stay relaxed throughout the day. Determine how much time he should be spending working off his excess energy on a daily basis.
Go for daily walks
Keep a regular schedule when it comes to walks. Walking is a dog’s number one method of exercise more often than not, and yours should be provided plenty of opportunity to walk with you or someone else.
Give your dog a job
Provide your smaller breed with something to do throughout the day like fetching laundry or other items during clean-up time or keeping watch at the front door.
Invest in some puzzle toys or make some yourself that dispense treats or other fun things to keep your dog occupied with tasty morsels while he is being mentally stimulated.
Set aside a few minutes throughout the day to practice obedience with your dog. Go from basic to advanced over time and increase his knowledge of a variety of helpful commands.
The Bubble Method
Provide a space away from baby
Place your dog’s bed or blanket on the other side of the room away from where the baby is in order to provide a small bubble for her to remain in while your baby is present.
Guide your dog to the space
Use a treat or a toy to lure your dog to the soft area you’ve set up for her. Make it appealing to be in that spot.
Offer gentle and calm affection while your dog is in the provided space to coax her into settling down.
Reward for staying
Provide a fun chew toy or a few yummy treats to encourage your now relaxed pup to stay in her soft area away from the baby’s space.
Release when baby leaves
Once the baby is removed from the room or the area, use a release word such as ‘okay’ or ‘all done’ to let your dog know that she has permission to wander around again. She will soon pick up on the idea that she should stay away when baby is in the room.
The Separation Method
Use a crate
A crate may provide a safe space for your dog to relax when your baby is out in the room.
Use baby gates or closed doors
Baby gates are especially effective at keeping small dogs away from your baby’s play area or other occupied spaces. In a pinch, simply close doors to prevent access to your baby’s spaces.
Give your dog outside time
Allow your dog plenty of access to the backyard or other enclosed outdoor areas if he needs more areas to roam without invading the baby’s space.
Provide separate areas
Predetermine areas throughout the home that are safe for your dog and safe for your baby. Keep these spaces consistent for the entirety of training to provide your dog with a familiar routine.
Any time your dog and your baby are in the same area, they should always be supervised. Never have unsupervised interaction between them.
By TJ Trevino
Published: 03/05/2018, edited: 01/08/2021