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Ask Pilar: A Baby’s Arrival And Aggression At Home Between Dogs

Welcome to our “Ask Pilar” series! Professional dog trainer and groomer Pilar Garrido will answer questions you have about your pup. She is only providing a basic overview. For more information, please consult a trainer, behaviorist or groomer in your area, who can directly work with your dogs.

For this round of questions, our readers asked:

1. My husband and I are about to have our first child. How should I prepare my dog for the arrival of the new baby in a few weeks?

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Dogs have a very good sense of smell and can detect changes in your chemistry, even in the early onset of pregnancy. Your dog will have some idea that things will be different, but it’s still important to prepare your pup. Before you bring the baby home, try introducing baby-related sounds from the TV or a podcast. You can watch and listen to babies crying, laughing and babbling with your dog, so when the baby arrives, the dog is familiar with those sounds. When the dog sees that you are calm in this process, he or she will associate the sounds as something positive and normal.

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Before you bring the baby home, try introducing baby-related sounds from the TV or a podcast.

After the baby does come home, here are a few tips to remember:

  • Treat your dog the same as you did before. If she was previously permitted to go into your room, allow her to continue that behavior. This lets her know that she is still an important part of the family.  

  • Never leave the dog alone, unsupervised, with the baby. 

  • Your dog should never be allowed to approach the baby without your permission. Any signs of aggression or disobedience on the dog’s part can mean loss of privileges. Your dog needs to learn to respect the baby as a new member of the family.

  • If you are holding the baby, always maintain a good distance between the baby and your dog. Allowing your dog to see the baby from afar while getting familiar with hearing the baby’s cries and noises will help your pup realize there is a new family member here to stay. 

  • Never allow the dog to think that the baby is her responsibility because she can become aggressive towards the rest of the family. You need to show that you are in control.

2. I have two dogs and they tend to get a little aggressive when they play together. Sometimes it seems more than just playfulness. What should I do?

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Dogs living under the same roof can often get at each other’s throats. It is a sad reality and, as dog owners, we need to find ways to allow the two to live harmoniously. Often the problem comes from a lack of leadership or a lack of exercise and activity.

Taking the dogs out for a walk together is essential. It’s like a team sport — a scheduled morning walk helps the dogs create a bond and learn to accept each other as the day moves on. We also need to avoid showing signs of favoritism with one dog over the other. A dog can sense if you are paying more attention to the other dog. 

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Taking the dogs out for a walk together is essential. It’s like a team sport — a scheduled morning walk helps the dogs create a bond and learn to accept each other as the day moves on.

We need to balance our time with the two dogs. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid creating friction when giving out food. Each dog should eat out of his or her own bowl. The dogs need to be supervised to ensure they do this. When they are finished, take everything off the floor. Dogs need to learn that there is a set time for eating.   

  • When one dog misbehaves, a muzzle can be temporarily used. It’s a good way of correcting his or her behavior and once the temperament subsides, you can then take off. You need to be careful about how long you keep it on and use all safety precautions. 

  • Never leave toys or food in between the two dogs. They may end up fighting over them.

  • Avoid leaving the two alone, unsupervised, at home (or in public, of course). If you have to leave them unattended, make sure you separate them in their own rooms or spaces.

  • When the two dogs begin to play in a friendly way, it’s a sign that they are learning how to bond. When they create a strong bond, they will avoid hurting each other.

  • When the dogs behave towards each other, reward them with treats and cuddles! Use positive reinforcement to encourage the two to get friendly.

When we set rules, our dogs will learn to follow and respect them. Dogs always look for leadership. Our goal is to lead the way in creating a happy and balanced life with our pups!

Have questions? Follow us and ask on our IG @dogwhispererhq or through our website here.

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