Crying Baby, Upset Dog

by Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC
dog basics for childrenWhen you are up pacing the floor at night trying to soothe an upset baby, the last thing you want to deal with is a stressed-out dog underfoot. But all too often, that’s what happens.
A baby’s cry is meant to be distressing. We are hard-wired to want to do something, anything, to make the crying stop. Dogs recognize this too, so they often become very stressed when a baby is crying. It is worth taking some time to find ways to help your dog cope.
Treats. One of the simplest things you can do is keep a jar of cheerios or small dog treats in your baby’s room. As you are singing to, rocking and cajoling your baby, toss a treat now and then to your dog. Toss some directly to the dog and others to various corners of the room. This will help to distract the dog (and you, to a much lesser extent) and will lower the dog’s stress.  Longer-lasting treats, such as bones or stuffed Kongs, can also give your dog an energy outlet; he can chew while you jostle the baby.

Inclusion. It can be tempting to keep the dog away when you are busy with the baby, but the more you can incorporate the dog into your baby care, the faster your dog will adapt. Encourage your dog to move from room with you as you and the baby go through the day. Talk to your dog while you are changing diapers, pet the dog when you sitting in the rocking chair and let your dog clean up any food-related messes on the floor.

Downtime. In addition to having your dog participate in your daily activities, make sure he gets some downtime as well. Set aside some time each day when he can rest quietly in his crate or in a bedroom. As anyone with a baby knows, naps are a very good thing!

Distraction. While you are pacing with the baby, give your dog simple cues that don’t require your physical involvement, such as sit, down, and find it (teach your dog the names of his toys). Giving the dog something to focus on will distract and soothe him.

Exercise. This won’t help you in midst of a crying jag, but making sure that your dog is getting plenty of exercise will lower his stress levels considerably. Ask a friends and family to help either by taking the dog for a nice, long walk or by watching the baby so you and the dog can both get out for some fresh air.

Habituation. Day by day, week by week, your dog is learning what is normal baby behavior and what is more extreme. Soon your dog will be more blasé about when your baby fusses, but keep using these tips so that when your baby has an ear infection or a bad cold, you’ll be able to focus primarily on the baby and the dog won’t be too stressed and underfoot.
Dealing with an anxious dog in addition to an upset baby makes things much harder for you. Having a game plan in advance will allow you to focus on your baby while still addressing and alleviating your dog’s concern.
Kids and DogsAbout the Author:
Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC, ( author of Living with Kids and Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind, is America’s Kids and Canines Coach. Colleen has more than 15 years’ experience as the go-to person for parents trying to navigate kid-and-dog issues. Because every interaction between a child and a dog can be improved by a knowledgeable adult, Colleen is committed to educating parents, children and dog owners on kid-and-dog relationships.
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Dog Basics
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