DO YOU LOVE AND TRUST YOUR DOG...
Has he/she ever showed any signs of aggression towards anything?
If the answer is no then you have nothing to worry about - you just need some help in understanding dogs a little - which I will provide you with below.
Having said that the biggest mistake people make is being nervous, anxious, fearful or expecting/anticipating problems.
I am going to give you a few articles to read. Please read them as it is critical that you understand how dogs communicate and how we unintentionally communicate to them. And below I am going to coach you on introducing your dog and baby in more detail. Also, the same methodology can and should be used when introducing your new dog to your toddler, or older children.
Here are the articles and then I will continue with an explanation below. You can either read them now or continue on and read them after - but to read them is a must!
First I want to share this with you...when my daughter was a toddler strangers would criticize me for leaving her in the car with Shanny (my first German Shepherd x Malamute) while I stepped into the pizza place to pick up the pizza I had called ahead to order. Shanny would have done anything and everything she could to protect my daughter if the need ever arose. Shanny would never have harmed her - I had nurtured Shanny's balanced state of being and enabled the best attributes of a dog. I had respected her as a dog and as a non-human person. I had every reason to trust in Shanny. Not only did Shanny never let me down, but she often astonished me with her kindness, instinct, intuition and great intelligence.
STEP ONE OF THE INTRODUCTION
When I was in the hospital, having just delivered my daughter into this world, I took one of the little hats that she wore on that first day and gave it to my Mom to take home (while I was still at the hospital) so Shanny could meet my daughter for the first time - not in actual physical presence - but instead by her scent on the little knitted hat. This is of great importance to the dog - it should be allowed to meet the baby by scent first. (If you are introducing your new dog to children rather than baby, you can skip this step!).
Now I would have had no trepidation about my Daughter and Shanny meeting in physical presence first, but because I was still at the hospital, I wanted to send Shanny something to let her know what was going on. If you can do this first it is a wonderful way to start.
Why the nose first...well please read this to understand...
THE BIGGEST MISTAKE PEOPLE MAKE with babies, children and dogs
I end up with quite a few clients who retain me to help because their dog has become child reactive. This is so easily avoidable, but people in not understanding how and what they communicate create this situation, which gets exponentially worse if allowed to continue and then results in aggression. So let’s make sure you do not accidentally create this situation.
How does this type of behaviour start? Well, when a child's parents are nervous of their child being around a dog...the dog learns that when children are near, people are nervous, anxious and/or fearful. Dogs look to their humans for leadership…if you are uncomfortable it tells your dog that it should be on guard. So the dog learns to associate children with tension and fear and eventually this turns to aggression. The dog does not create the situation of aggression - people do!
This has nothing to do with training your dog - it has everything to do with training yourself. What this is about is the psychology of humans and the psychology of Dogs.
Reading the articles that I provided links to above, will ensure that you can get a good understanding of what follows below…but read on and then you can go back to the linked articles after.
STEP TWO OF THE INTRODUCTION
Make sure you are not tense, stressed or anticipating reactive behaviour (what you probably think of as aggression) from your dog. Your dog has absolutely no reason to be aggressive - unless you create the aggression! To lead by example you must be without any such emotions. You must be (calm) and have confidence in yourself and in your dog. Your state of calm confidence will set the framework for your dog’s state. If your thoughts and body language are relaxed and confident you indicate to your dog that you are confident with the situation - this allows your dog to relax and normalize the experience of meeting your baby. Dogs are naturally good with children and babies - it is only when the human creates tension and bad associates, when the human has failed to enable balance in their dogs that dogs are aggressive to children.
I am going to ask that you also read about Leadership and debunking the Alpha Myth here - a whole understanding is very important as it will foster a relaxed and informed state for you!
Encourage your dog to use its nose to greet your baby. A dog’s sense of smell is acute. In its natural state, dogs greet each other by smelling each other - not by jumping all over each other in an excited state. Excited greetings occur because the human has taught the dog that greeting (a human - child or adult) requires excitement. This is not a dog’s way. It is a human’s way. To teach this type of greeting de-normalizes the experience for a dog. Make the greeting normal and comfortable.
RELAX AND ENJOY THIS BEAUTIFUL MEETING - by doing so you will make it what it should be.
So train yourself to control your thoughts, your emotion and direct your focus. Only then can you properly support your dog. Remember, you communicate with your state-of-mind, and hence your body…not just by the words or tone you use to speak.
If your dog is truly a little too eager/pushy you need to disagree with your dog’s behaviour. For instance your dog places his paws on the baby with a little too much energy or wants to lick the baby’s face too much. Touch your dog and say 'no' and then say 'gentle'. Touch gets his attention, 'no' to indicate the behaviour is not appropriate and 'gentle' to provide the right direction. This is coaching/mentoring. It is all your dog requires. As long as you do so from a calm and confident state your dog will understand. It is really simple - the energy behind what you do is everything and has an immense impact on creating a positive, normal, happy greeting and future relationship!
I cannot state enough how important it is to be relaxed, calm, confident and patient - it is everything!
This meeting should be enjoyed, it should be beautiful - and not infused with stress, tension and nightmare scenarios in your mind. Remember, it is the human who creates the situation, good and bad!
PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN TO NAY SAYERS
I have had to rehabilitate too many dogs who have become aggressive to children simply because they were not socialized using all of the methods I note above. Instead of socializing and normalizing them to greeting and being with children - the people fear from the get-go and lock the dog in another room or never allow the dog to greet a baby. Well guys, what do you think will happen - of course you make the dog aggressive. You make the dog frustrated and confused. Dogs are highly intelligent, sensitive animals - take advantage of their natural nature, work with it, don’t destroy it.