You love your dog, and you love your baby. The only problem is that they don’t understand one another. One likes to eat socks, the other wears them. One runs around in circles and jumps on people, the other can barely roll over. Bringing a toddler into a household with an older dog often means serious training for both of them.
Don’t leave them alone.
When your dog is in the same room as a toddler, they should both be supervised. A dog’s natural instincts may cause it to become territorial or protective when it encounters a stranger, especially one so small and fragile. Additionally, dogs can be unpredictable around children (and vice versa), so it’s always best to err on the side of caution when their safety is at stake.
Teach the dog to ‘go to a place’.
Teach the dog to “go to a place.” The goal here is for your dog to break off from whatever he’s doing and go lie down on his bed, mat or wherever you tell him when you say “go to your place.” The most effective way of teaching this behavior is through an association with food. For example, if you want your dog to go lie down in front of his crate at any time during the day, put some really tasty treats in there with him. Make sure that you praise him generously each time he goes into his crate so that he can learn that this is a good thing!
Get down on the dog’s level when saying hello.
The most important thing to remember is that your dog doesn’t know what you’re doing. He doesn’t understand why you’re trying to pet him, or why you are saying hello in a high-pitched voice. So, when greeting the puppy for the first time, try getting down on all fours and make eye contact with him before saying hello. Make sure you have treats in hand because this will encourage a positive response from the dog.
If everything goes smoothly, then this may be an opportunity for some playtime with the pup! If not, give yourself some time until he gets used to your presence before approaching again later on in the day (or even tomorrow).
Put treats where the toddler will be playing.
- Place treats where the toddler will be playing. The dog will learn to associate the toddler with the treats, which will help him learn that the toddler is not a threat and is fun.
- Make sure your dog has access to his own toys, bed and water bowl in a room away from where you’ll be playing with your little one. This can help keep him busy and provide an extra level of safety for both of you during playtime together.
Teach your dog that the baby is for playing with, not eating.
Most dogs are naturally curious and will want to check out any new baby in the house. But you don’t want your dog mauling or eating your infant, so it’s important to teach him that the baby is off limits.
The best way to do this is by using treats as rewards for good behavior. If you have an older dog who doesn’t know how to play with toys yet (most puppies do), start by teaching him how to play with his own toys and then move on from there.
No matter how much you train your dog or the baby, there will be accidents. But that doesn’t mean they can’t live together in peace. Remember that dogs are just like any other living being: they need love and attention to feel happy and healthy. So, as long as you keep up with good practices for training both your dog and toddler, everything should go smoothly.