My Dog is Jealous of My New Baby
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It can often happen that some of us decide to adopt a dog as a precursor to having a larger family. Although having a dog is a rewarding experience in itself, some may see it as helpful preparation for the responsibility of having a child. However, they may not always think of how the dynamic might change once the dog and baby are in the home together. It is equally possible a new dog will be brought into a family with children and jealous develops. Although most dogs will get along with children, there are some reasons why a dog may have difficulty living with children.
In this AnimalWised article on my dog is jealous of my new baby, we look at the reasons for this insecure behavior. We also tell you what you may be able to do to create a more harmonious family.
Why are dogs jealous of babies?
Imagine that you are a dog and your human companions give you all the love you could hope for. Suddenly, a cute and (understandably) demanding baby starts to take up the majority of the family's attention. It can completely rock the world of a dog.
Dogs are individuals with their own personalities and behaviors. The new dynamic may make them feel like they are being displaced within the family. They are sensitive creatures, assuming there is no place for them in the new family home. In addition to jealousy, the dog may develop resentment, fear, depression and even aggression. When we are dealing with a vulnerable baby, an aggressive dog is a significant danger.
The problem is not the new baby's fault. It is no the fault of the dog either. New parents will need to spend time caring for their baby and it is understandable that the dog will not have as much attention as before. This is not the same as avoiding the responsibility of caring for a dog.
However, there are other reasons which can make a dog more jealous than others. Often it has to do with insecurity. Since dogs are creatures of routine and need to know all of their care needs are met, giving them less attention might make them feel as if provision for these basic needs is in jeopardy. Some dogs grow so attached to their guardians that they develop separation anxiety when they are not together. While having a dog love us can feel great, if they rely on us too much it can affect their psychological well-being.
Also, dogs which have been abused or received trauma in the past may develop jealousy with a new baby. It may have taken them some time to get used to integrating into their adopted family because they have had to relearn to trust humans. When a baby comes along, it may affect this past trauma.
For these reasons, we not only need to know what to do when a dog is jealous of a new baby. We need to prepare so that we can best prevent this from happening.
How to prepare your dog for a new baby
While some dog breeds are more likely to bond well with children, it is important to remember this is the case with most individual dogs. Dogs are generally protective of the babies in their family. As explained above, there are some reasons why a dog may feel jealous with a new baby. This is less likely to do with their breed, although it is a factor. Education, socialization and their care needs are more important factors, however.
Regardless, it is better to be safe than sorry and do what you can to prepare a dog for the arrival of a new baby. First, you have to be considerate of canine psychology. Dogs are territorial animals, considering both the house and those within it to be their territory. If the dog sees the new baby as a member of the family, they will likely be protective. If they see them as a threat, this is when jealousy can develop. Also, the presence of a baby will likely mean the schedule of the home will change, with late night feedings and adhering to the baby's routine.
This is why you must consider the following:
- Dogs are stressed by change: if you are thinking of moving furniture around or remodeling some space, do it well in advance of the baby's arrival. In this way, the dog will get used to it little by little and will not directly relate it to the baby.
- Dogs can feel threatened: do not completely isolate your pet from the baby's room. Let them sniff and see the new things that are present. By the time the child arrives, the dog will not be as eager and curious to snoop around in a space already known to him.
- Dogs need socialization: allow the dog to spend time with other children. Be fair and divide your attention equally. Let the dog see that it is totally normal to share your attention with other people. It will also give you an opportunity to see how they react when the child creates chaos in the home.
- Dogs need education: a well-educated dog is less likely to be jealous than one which is never disciplined. We need to be able to use commands to both calm the dog down and to provide them with reassurance. Dogs do not like to feel out of control, so general training and education will be one of the most important things to do before the arrival of a new baby.
When the time comes, you can use our guide on how to introduce a dog to a new baby.
What to do when the dog is jealous after the baby arrives
Even after preparing the dog for the arrival of the new baby, it is possible they will develop some jealousy. As much as we can try to divide our attention, the new responsibility is considerable even in the best of situations. Here is what you can do to stop these jealous feelings:
- The first thing is to analyze the dog's behaviors when the new baby is around. Do not leave them together alone. Always have them supervised, even if the dog is not showing signs of jealousy. It is important the dog knows they are not prey and that they need to be protected. If there are any signs of aggression, remove them from each other's company and find a canine ethologist.
- Try to spend more quality time with the dog. Don't overindulge them, but treat them and show affection. Respect their behavior and reassure them they will have the security they need. When with the baby, do not ignore them and ensure all of their needs are met. Make them feel like they are still part of the family.
- Use positive reinforcement in the form of toys and accessories. This will help them to associate the new baby with something positive and not a threat. Ensure you do not mix the dog's toys and those the baby. The dog can become jealous of the baby's toys if they think they are not being allowed to have as much fun.
Tips to help a dog and new baby get along
- Rub a little coconut or almond oil on your dog's toys and stuffed animals. They will associate the smell with their belongings and differentiate between those of the baby.
- Let the dog smell and see the baby. Again, do not isolate your dog from the child.
- Keep your dog healthy and neat, this will give you more confidence when your baby is close to them.
- Never scold or push your dog away aggressively when it curiously approaches the baby.
- Do not leave them alone, even if they are otherwise getting along. Both the dog and the baby can be unpredictable.
- Set aside time every day to be alone with your dog.
- Do fun activities with the dog and baby at the same time. It promotes interaction and affection between them.
If your dog is still jealous with the new baby and shows the potential for aggression, you will need to intervene. Take them to a veterinarian for advice or seek immediate help from a canine ethologist.
If you want to read similar articles to My Dog is Jealous of My New Baby, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.