Desensitizing any and all dogs living in your household to the cries of your baby is one of the single most surprising things to those using the Preparation Checklist, and viewing the Dogs to Diapers film.
A lot of people just assume that because their dogs have been around kids they don’t need to do much preparation before bringing a newborn home, but how your dog perceives a child is a completely different picture then exposing them to the screams and noises of an infant.
Due to this response, let me take a moment to describe what desensitizing is and why it is a 100% MUST do to help prepare your dog for the very interesting sounds that come along with your newborn.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise the sound of your newborn crying is by nature alarming… But, let’s face it, it’s supposed to be right?
Of course, it’s how we know they need us and how we as moms can be awoken from a dead sleep…
Well, here’s the thing, it can end up being the same “alarm system” for your dog and in some cases a dog can become overstimulated by an infant screaming and moving. This can trigger a predatory response in your dog and endanger your baby. Here are some statistics to support this:
*”The age group with the highest number of fatalities is children under the age of one year old. These account for 19% of the deaths due to dog attacks.” “Of these, 72% of deaths were newborns less than 90 days old.”
That is an extremely disturbing fact, but the truth is, these dogs most likely never perceived those newborns as human. The majority of these attacks happened when the infant was in a crib, bassinet, sleeping next to a parent, or in a baby swing. Something triggered the attack whether it was them crying or moving.
There are ways we can test our dog to help us know how to train and prepare them for the arrival of a new born and desensitizing them to baby cries are one of them.
Desensitizing your dog to sound of your baby crying means that you want them to be indifferent, unaware, or more simply… non responsive.
If your dog becomes over stimulated by your baby crying or even just stressed… Unsafe situations may be the result… Therefore, it’s absolutely critical to desensitize your dog beforehand.
Dogs to Diapers shows you how to randomly play downloaded baby cries until your dog is non-reactive or indifferent to them. Recognizing your dog’s innate response to the first times the sounds are played will help you determine how often you will need to practice this in order to desensitize them.
If you do have a dog that gets overly excited to the baby sounds you can teach them to do a “place” command every time you play the baby cries. This gives the easily excitable dog a job to do also known as a coping behavior. Then in the future when your newborn cries, your dog will know to calmly go over to their “place. If your dog displays behaviors such as becoming extremely still, focused, ears perked, or redirects then it is critical you seek professional training. These are signals of high predatory drive.
There are some dogs that are just unsafe to have around a newborn and it is important for you to know this before bringing your baby home. Dogs that have high predatory drive and have a known history of killing small prey are dangerous to have around an infant. The baby cry can trigger an instant attack and even if you expose them by playing the sounds, this will not change the genetic predisposition of your dog’s predatory drive. It will however, help you to become more knowledgeable about your specific pet and instill the correct management precautions for the safety of young children.
Any dog, no matter how they respond to the cries, should never have access to where a baby is sleeping and especially not be allowed to sleep under a baby bassinet, crib, or baby swing.
Following these guide lines will help you: prepare your dog for when your newborn starts crying, predict the response your dog will have, and also give your dog the reassurance that an infant cry is not something for them to become excited or stressed about.
This method also helps with dogs that have started howling when they hear a baby cry!
For more dog preparation tips view the Dogs to Diapers film.