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Are You The Leader Of The Pack?

Dogs are pack animals, it is so very important that you establish the correct pecking order for your dog. If it is not established early your dog will establish his own pecking order which can cause problems for your family.

It is wonderful to be affectionate with your dog. It is also very important to set boundaries. You must assert your rightful place as Alpha pack leader.

So many people, myself included, treat animals as if they are humans. Humanizing a pet can be a big mistake. This is cause for aggression and dog bites, especially in children.

In my experience, my belgian shepherd became very aggressive when I brought my daughter, Angel, home from the hospital.   Dogs have a tendency to become territorial and jealous. From the family dog’s perspective, a newborn may appear to threaten the dog’s position in the family . Many dogs willingly accept a new addition to the family and may even become protective of this new “pup.” Shadow became very jealous and territorial. Unfortunately, Shadow was rehomed to a very nice older couple with no children.

There are ways to effectively prepare your pet for that new addition to your family.

  • Let your pet smell and inspect the blanket that was used in the hospital.  Make a positive association with the baby’s scent by talking gently to the animal and giving treats. You may even wish to allow your pet to sleep with the item.
  • It may also be helpful to make a  recording of your baby’s cries in the hospital. Or record a friend’s infant. Bring the recording home and play it for your pet, while gently playing or otherwise positively interacting with your pet.
  •  It’s important to carry out the usual welcome-home ritual. It might be a good idea to have someone else carry your baby into the house so you can greet your pet as you usually do.
  •  Don’t lock the dog in a room or remove him from the house when you bring the baby home for the first time. The dog may interpret this as punishment and become aggressive.
  • Allow the dog to see the baby from a safe distance initially. Place a leash on the dog for easier control. The dog will most likely be interested in sniffing the baby. Remember that he is forming an opinion; be positive and cautious at the same time. Talking calmly, offer petting and praise. Do not force the dog toward the baby.
  • When the baby cries, make sure the dog understands that this is okay. You don’t want the dog to think you’re hurting the baby.
  • Give your dog as much attention as you did before the baby arrived.

Your entire family should be included in the training and care of your dog, including children. Children must also learn to behave in the correct manner. They must understand that dogs are not human and we can not treat them as they are.

In conclusion, dog parents and family members are the “leaders of the pack.” We set rules, boundaries and limitations. This will create a happy life for us and our pets.