Infants, Toddlers, Dogs, and the Human-Animal Bond

By Myrna Milani

 

Among the many presentations I've given are those to new parents regarding canine and feline behavioral-bond problems. And in spite of the fact that the best time to consider such issues is before the baby arrives, there are things that can be done after-the-fact to ensure both the animal's and the baby's well-being. Granted new parents often think that the new arrival leaves no time to worry about Spot or Kitty's little quirks. However, unless something is done to address those behavioral issues, trust me, there's a good chance they're going to get worse. Because of this, this month we're going to begin exploring a few topics relative to pets and kids, beginning with very young children and dogs.

A common suggestion regarding introducing new babies to pets advises parents to make a big fuss over the dog so the pet won't feel left out. The assumption is that this will prevent the dog from becoming jealous of the new baby and doing something nasty, like peeing on the nursery rug or growling at the child. However, such recommendations can backfire if the higher pitched baby-talk and overly solicitous tone new parents often use to communicate with the dog also communicates a lower rank. In that case, rather than reassuring Spot that his owners still love him, they could be telling him that he's responsible for protecting them and this new addition. If Spot has the confidence to handle this added responsibility, no problems arise. However, if he doesn't, then this well-intentioned, but misguided interaction can result in a variety of canine misbehaviors. Among these, we're going to consider the two most common: marking and aggression.

If Spot pees in, i.e. marks, the baby's room, more likely than not he doesn't do this in a fit of jealous...

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By Myrna Milani| July 01, 2006
Categories:  Care

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Myrna Milani

Myrna Milani

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