Babies and Dogs- Part 2- Commands to Make Life Easier

Life can get very busy especially when you have both children and dogs.  Helping your dog to really learn and understand commands can help you tremendously.  Once your dog knows the commands, you are half way there.  Now, you need to know the best ways to use them in your daily life. Remember, if you don’t have the time for a group class, hire a private trainer or find a reputable Board and Train facility!

 

Babies and Dogs – Creating a Safe and Harmonious Relationship
Part 2
Commands to Make Life Easier

Now that you’ve gotten your dog familiar with baby “gear” and basic house manners that we discussed in Part 1 of this blog, the next thing you want to do is sharpen up your basic commands. In this section we will outline which commands are most useful to incorporate into your daily life with your new baby.

Commands are “icing on the cake”, because if your dog has good manners as discussed in Part 1, then adding commands opens up communication. However, teaching commands isn’t a “magic fix” … just because your dog knows what a particular command means, doesn’t mean they will do what you ask. Follow through after you give a command is by far the most important part of the communication and that is all on you! Here are the commands to have your dog learn:

• Come
• Stay
• Go to your spot & Stay in your spot
• Stay out
• Get back
• Wait
• Sit & Down
• Leave it & Give it
• Off

Now let’s talk about how to use some of these commands and how they relate to your baby.

Sharpen up “come” command. The last thing you need when you are trying to do so many additional things in a busy household or rush off to an appointment is to have your dog ignoring you when you are calling them to come to you. This is a super important command to reward so be sure you praise/or treat your dog consistently each time they reach you.

Practice calling them to “come” every time you’re calling your dog for their meal. That is always positive for a dog!

A good solid “stay”, can be so valuable in many areas of your life with the dog especially when you are answering a door or carrying the baby from one room to the next. You don’t want a dog getting under foot.

Practice teaching your dog to go to their bed. This is the “go to your spot” and “stay in your spot” command. The goal is to have them stay until you return to release them. Practice in advance so you are prepared for when the baby first arrives. If you haven’t perfected the solid stay with distractions, putting them on leash, or tethering them to a solid object can help. If your dog is crate trained, using a crate is another good option to control your dog when people arrive at your home, or use a baby gate to control their access to rooms.

“Stay out” can be used at the door of the baby’s room. Your dog will be happy to watch things from the doorway. If in the future you decide your dog is calm enough to come in, you can always allow it later. If this is initially difficult to do, use a baby gate at the doorway. Your dog can see what is happening but stay at a distance.

If your dog decides not to “stay out”, you can use “get back” to help them stay out of baby’s room, and learn that it’s off limits. If they “get back” and then “stay out”, they won’t get into the diaper pail, which for one of my dogs is like going to a 5 Star restaurant! “Get back” is also good to use if your dog is crowding you and not giving you space when sitting with the baby. Then you can ask for a “down” next to you so they can be close, but not too demanding with your space.

“Wait” is just a good command to use to teach your dog they have to wait for things. It may be for dinner, leaving their crate, or going out the door for a walk. It helps to teach a dog how to have discipline. It can also help keep things calm, and calmness around a baby is a good thing!

“Sit or down” can be used to help make a dog calmer for petting, but this is only if they know how to hold this without you repeating yourself over and over again. You want to say it once; they sit and stay in place until released followed by lots of praise!! If your dog stands calmly to be petted, they don’t even need the sit. The most important thing is that they know how to stay calm in the presence of the baby.

“Leave it” can be used if you or the baby drops something. A quick sniff and investigation by your dog is OK. This also can be very useful if your dog likes to take toys or articles of clothing. You don’t want to create a game of “keep away”, but if it happens anyway, you’ll want to teach “give it”.

One way I use the “off” command is to have a designated baby blanket on the floor that dogs are not allowed on. This gives the baby a chance to have some tummy time, and allows the dog to be a part of it without being in the middle of it. Of course “off” is good for a dog that jumps on people or objects. Basically, the command means get your feet off of what they are touching.

If you don’t have these commands mastered, use your leash and collar to help show your dog. Dogs have unique personalities, including levels of excitement and curiosity. You will have to judge how much guidance or training you need to do with your dog. If you’re unsure, as many new parents/dog owners are, hire a professional to help you!

Your goal should be to maintain calmness and control with your dog. Remember this is all new to them, so it is important to teach them your expectations for their behavior. I like dogs to see what is happening with the baby, but initially keep at a distance until I can see how they are reacting, and they get more familiar and comfortable with the new baby.

That’s all for Part 2 of the blog post. Part 3 is all about “the meet and greet”. I will make suggestions for your dog getting close to the baby to be sure things are safe and pleasant.

Lesley Zoromski
Kids-n-K9s.com

Babies and Dogs – Creating a Safe and Harmonious Relationship

There are many things you can do to prepare for the arrival of your new baby when it comes to the family dog.

 

The arrival of a new baby is a very exciting time! So how can you be sure you will have a safe and harmonious home for your new baby?  Whether the baby is a new family member or just coming for a visit, it’s important to take some time to help your dog understand this new little person, and how they are different from adults.

Because there is a lot to think about, I’m going to break this post into four separate parts:

Part 1: Getting Used to Baby “Gear” and Learning Manners

Part 2: Commands to Make Life Easier

Part 3: The Meet and Greet

Part 4: Creating a Bond Between Baby and Dog 

             

Getting Used to Baby “Gear” and Learning Manners

Part 1

We all can agree that babies are very different from adults. They smell different, move different, sound different and have different “gear”.  Adults are typically comfortable with these differences, but for dogs they can be quite alien.

All dogs have unique personalities.  Some are easy going, others are pushy, but sweet, and yet some are nervous and jumpy with new things.  You most likely know how your dog will react to new things, but it’s best to not have any surprises.  The good news is there’s a lot you can do in advance of the baby’s arrival to help your dog understand how to handle some of changes that are coming.

For, example, a baby comes with lots of “gear”, like strollers, playpens, swings, diaper pails and baby toys.  One simple idea to help your dog is to walk them with the stroller, with your dog next to you, and the stroller in front.  This will help you be sure your dog is ok with this new addition of a stroller on the walk, and also that you can handle holding the leash while you have both hands on the stroller.  It’s a good idea to practice this before the baby is a passenger!  Note you want to have the stroller in front so your dog realizes the baby is an important member of the pack.

Another idea to help your dog is to use other baby “gear” inside the house.  For example, you can use your indoor baby swing, just like there was a baby sitting it, so your dog gets familiar with this new moving object.  You will likely see your dog sniffing these new things as they investigate, but be sure they don’t grab any of them with their teeth as they may wonder if any of these things are new toys for them!

Ok, now that we’ve covered a little bit about baby “gear”, lets move on to basic house manners that will help set the stage for your dog being polite when the baby is around.  When I say basic house manners, I’m referring to the following behaviors:

  • NOT jumping on people or objects
  • NOT taking food from tables or people
  • NOT crowding or begging
  • NOT pulling on leash

These are some of the basic manners your dog should exhibit before the baby arrives.  There will be a lot going on with the new baby, and these behaviors will go a long way to having a more comfortable and safe home for everyone.  If you don’t know how to teach your dog these basic house manners, just contact a trainer to help you.

On the topic of manners, I’m often asked if couch privileges should be allowed.  Letting dogs lay on a couch or bed is quite a gray area….it depends on your dog.  Does your dog object if you or any person asks him to get off?  Behaviors like growling, snapping, or giving you a fixed stare would indicate you should not give the dog couch privileges.  In my personal experiences with my own dogs, I’ve found that not allowing them on beds and couches has provided me with a dog free area for guests (including babies!) in my home.

So, anything you can do before the baby arrives to help prepare your dog is a good thing – whether it’s being exposed to baby “gear” or brushing up on basic manners in the house.  In my next post, I will talk about basic commands to help make communication easier, and life all around more pleasant, with your new baby and dog.

Lesley Zoromski

Kids-n-K9s.com