Ever heard the saying that dogs are pack animals?
A ‘man’s best friend’ is predisposed to live within social groups, whether that be with other dogs in the wild, or co-habit with you in your family home. Any kind of pack is made up of dominant and submissive members, and early on in your dog’s training, you will have established your roles within your little family pack.
Adding a new member of the family is often a very confusing time for your furry friend, as it brings uncertainty as to where this new member fits in within the hierarchy and where this in turn leaves them.
In order to reduce this uncertainty and prevent dog jealousy (yes that’s a thing), there are a number of steps you can take to make this transition run a little more smoothly. Signs of jealous behavior include ‘acting up’ to get more attention, this may come in the form of being over-excited or aggressive towards your new baby.
It is a good idea to address it before it becomes a problem. Behavioral specialists will advise you on how to make adjustments before the baby arrives home, such as establishing boundaries, setting a new schedule, introducing them to the new scent, reinforcing good behavior, and exposing your dog to the sights and sounds of small children in advance.
As pack leader, it is important that you establish and maintain your ownership and control over situations. This ensures that when you first introduce your baby and dog, the chance of the dog accepting the new arrival is greater.
Before this crucial meeting, make sure you take your dog on a long walk to tire them, on re-entering the house make sure they are calm and let the dog sniff the baby at a distance before allowing them to gradually move closer. This helps to establish that the new addition to the family is another pack leader.
Now that you have brought baby home and started to settle into your new family routine, it is easy to forget that your dog still needs your love and attention too! Daily walks and continued leadership keeps them happy and secure whilst your baby starts to develop and grow. Always remember to supervise interactions between your dog and the little one as they continue to get to know each other.
They might just end up the best of friends!
Emma Mills is a freelance writer, proud mother, and pack leader. She blogs at Shepped: German Shepherds 101.