Q: Should you relocate your dog’s favorite sleeping spot out of your bedroom when new baby arrives?
A: Your dog may not like it, but yes.
Tuscola veterinarian DR. SALLY FOOTE says your baby and your dog shouldn’t be sleeping in the same bedroom, and that’s for safety’s sake.
If your dog already sleeps in your bedroom, she advises getting him accustomed to sleeping elsewhere before you bring your new baby home from the hospital.
Since 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics has advised that the safest place for infants to sleep is in the same bedroom as their parents, on a surface separate from where parents sleep — such as a crib or bassinet — to reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths.
Foote, who teaches a child and pet safety class for parents and caregivers, said it’s her goal to help parents with babies and small children understand normal dog behavior to certain stimuli.
This is important, even if you’ve got the sweetest, nicest and most gentle dog in the world, according to Foote.
“We can’t depend on a dog’s temperament to make it OK,” she said.
For instance, your dog won’t see a baby lying or rolling around on the floor the way you do. Your dog will see wounded prey and want to pounce, Foote said.
Another dog instinct will be to want to go after food in your hand, which can put babies and toddlers reaching toward a dog with food in hand at risk for bites, she said. Your dog should be separated from where the family is eating, she urged.
“We have dogs right next to people and food, and that is when a bite happens,” Foote said.
If you don’t yet have a pet, wait until your youngest child reaches age 6 to get one, she advised.
If you already have a dog, here are some of Foote’s safety tips:
Train your dog to be able to stand or sit still when mom and baby walk into the house.
Keep your dog at least 6 feet away from where you and your children are eating.
Never leave a baby or small child alone in a room with your dog.
If your baby or small child is rolling on the floor, make sure your dog is at least 4 feet away and separated by a baby gate or on a leash.
Never let your baby or small child lay on top of a dog or try to hug a dog.
Never disturb a resting or sleeping dog, and make sure your dog has a safe and secure place to rest — away from active, playing small children.
Don’t let dogs up on the couch or bed when you’re there with your baby.
If your pet is a cat, it’s important to provide enough perches and hiding places for cats and make sure they get at least 10 minutes a day of play time with people, Foote said. It’s also a good idea to train your cat to lay away from your child, and allow your cat to rest undisturbed, she said.
The class she teaches is offered at Carle, and it’s offered once per quarter. The next one coming up will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 21.
The class is free and open to the public. To registe, go to carle.org/Events/2020/04/Child-and-Pet-Safety.