Yes, she is a person. She is an adorable little human puppy. But Ranger is a dog, and he is just starting to figure these things out. So for today, she shall be deemed Rolling Lumpy Squeak Thing (RLST).
The baby has begun slow-mo flopping and flailing and can migrate herself from one end of the living room to the other, without crawling, over the space of a few minutes. And Ranger is quietly curious, but so far unconcerned. This is fabulous, but we are still starting to take greater precautions. So what does one do with a RLST and a dog in the home?
First, I’m actively watching every interaction when they are both out together. I am never more than an arm’s distance away, and my eyes are on baby and dog. Sometimes, like right now as I am tapping away on the laptop, I will just sit on the floor between the baby playgym and the dog, with my legs serving as an effective flop-barrier. Thank goodness my phone takes panoramas so you can see:
Ranger is not anxious at all, and is not bouncy or excited by her movements, so this is enough for our particular situation. If he acted worried and stressed or tried to play with her, we would already be moving to kennel/baby gate management.
I also want to note that Ranger is doing a blanket-stay and is NOT tethered right now. Adding physical restraint to a dog can make a situation more tense, so when baby is mobile and on the floor, Ranger is stationed at his spot but is free to move if he feels it necessary, and under voice control instead of leash control.
Second, I am moving RLST away from Ranger’s bed when she gets too close. The header image was taken when RLST was gently flopping further toward Ranger’s home base, right before I walked over and sat with Ranger for a minute and petted him:
And then scooped up RLST and moved her away.
It’s important to stay calm and positive in these interactions; I am not going to yell at the baby or at Ranger to move, and I’m certainly not going to drive him off his bed just so she can explore it. Instead, he gets some quiet attention, the baby gets associated with petting and gentle words, and he knows I will handle the situation so his space is respected.
This is how I handle a calm, happy, benignly curious dog; my old Great Pyrenees was a different story, and my Collie another one, because all dogs are different. This is Ranger’s story.
The general advice that should be gleaned is not the specific proximity allowed, but that allowing the dog to see, hear, and smell normal baby life and baby developmental stages will set him up for success as she grows. All dogs in homes with babies should learn that:
- Babies are normal (part of daily life, not scary little monsters that dogs see once a week when they are allowed inside)
- Babies = happy things happen to dogs (watch your own stress levels, and stay calm and supportive)
- Mommy will handle the baby (not Ranger – he COULD move away, but I want to keep interactions at such a low stress level that he does not even feel the need – and NEVER pushed to the level of a warning grumble or nip)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little picture of what real life with babies and dogs looks like. If you have your own crawling baby and a dog that is starting to wonder what on earth your Rolling Lumpy Squeak Thing is up to, I recommend this webinar from the Family Paws Parent Education parent resource page- Crawling Babies, Conflicted Dogs. One is held about every month, so if it looks too late, it’s not!
Now Rolling Lumpy Squeak Thing wants my attention, so we’ll sign off for today.