When setting up success stations it is important to keep some important points in mind. What works in your home for a baby under 3 months may change quickly for a baby at 5 months. Management will change constantly for the first 3 years! How you might ask? It is also important to pay attention and continue to strengthen your Dog Aware skills. Check out our PDF/video Dare to become Dog Aware.
Let’s talk about an example.
You may have had the crate in your living room so that your dog could enjoy your company safely while enjoying a treat of his own. This is a great option during the stage when your baby is not able to crawl or explore on their own. We suggest having several crates so that you can have your dog in the main room with you but then also be able to practice with your dog being in a crate in another room away from the action. I say practice as often this is something that will take time for your dog to adjust to. Don’t be surprised if you have to go back to the basics of introducing a crate if it is in a new space away from you. This can be difficult for some dogs. The separation from you is different.
Ok, now back to my concern. Once baby is moving (meaning rolling, scootching, crawling, cruising etc) then we must make sure that your dog’s safe space is not going to be accessed by a curious baby. If a crate is there a baby naturally will want to explore.
Dogs like and need space. A newly crawling, moving baby is a NEW BEING to your dog. Although you may feel more comfortable with your baby because you understand they are changing and expect these developments, your dog does not! Your dog does not have the app that explains what to expect.
Potentially they see this newly moving being on THEIR floor as TOTALLY NEW and different than the other sitting not moving baby. Gates, crates and play yards are essential to offer space so that your baby is not able to approach your dog. Babies and toddlers can not follow directions or boundaries at this age. (unfortunately) No matter how many times you tell them not to go to doggie, they will. We suggest you set the safe clear boundary for your dog and baby with a physical barrier. Dogs are uncomfortable, conflicted and sometimes scared by the unpredictable movements of babies this age. Check out our milestones handout that helps talk about milestones and dog’s potential responses.
Here are some Key points to keep in mind.
- Dogs communicate with their BODY! Lip lick, whale eye (where you see the whites of the eye),freezing, yawing, turning away, lowering head, tighten face muscles etc. These are ALL just some of the subtle signals dogs offer to communicate stress, need for space, conflict, anxiety. Please increase your dog aware skills and stay curious as baby grows and your dog ages.
- We know you want a bond built on trust, respect and to develop over time, it is NOT enough for your dog to “tolerate” your child, or to be Fine. We want them to feel safe, relaxed and have positive experiences supported by YOU the trusted adult.
- Your dog may not choose to move for many reasons…..not because he is liking this interaction. Maybe they are cozy, maybe they hurt? maybe you are close by and leaving you is not comfortable. Please NEVER assume that not leaving means they are enjoying. If you see stress or think you do, provide an option to help your dog make a more comfortable choice. Treat party, say their name, get a toy, move out of room with frozen goodie.
- Pay attention to when your dog “CHECKS IN’ What I mean by checking in is when they look to you. Assume they need praise or guidance in this moment. Dogs will check in with the trusted adult and if we offer them support they will continue to do this. Check ins happen when stress begins.
- “FIX IT FACE” I love this, Bethany Cunningham calls this tense glare or look towards the parent as the fix it face. This is often lowered head, glare, tense muscles….this is usually when a child is too close and you can feel tension. A good thing to do is Call the dog to you in a happy voice then figure out a plan to prevent that from happening again. Continuing to allow the dog to feel uncomfortable with an approaching baby is what often leads to growls and bites. Take these subtle signs and feeling seriously. Your dog IS doing their best to tell you they need help and your guidance.
- Get professional help. Our educators are excellent support for families with babies and toddlers. All have chosen to specialize in this niche and gain ongoing support and education about this particular niche. Find a Family Paws Educator
You’ve Got this! We are here to help!
We know this is tough! We are here to offer support and guidance for you and your family dog/s You are not in this alone, we are a phone call away and have been specializing in this for almost 20 years! We understand the challenges! We also know the successes! Reach out to our support line anytime! 877-247-3407 Also we have lots of great info on instagram #familypawsofficial and FB Family Paws Parent Ed