Dogs are social animals and typically respond well, in the long term, to the arrival of a baby. However, a few behavioral concerns exist when you bring a baby home because it disrupts your pets' lifes. Male dogs are especially sensitive to the disruption due to their desire to protect their pack and their territory. You can help your dog adjust to the change by making time to play with him separately, letting him get gradually used to baby and involving him with the new arrival.
All the new noise, scents and energy a baby brings to the home -- not to mention the time taken away from the dog -- can make him feel his territory is being threatened. A common response to this in male dogs is to begin scent marking around the house, especially on items carrying the baby’s scent, such as comforters and blankets. By introducing your dog to the baby’s scent before bringing the baby home, you can help ease him into the process of accepting a new member of the family. Send a blanket back from the hospital for the dog to sniff. Give him a food reward as he sniffs it so he can create a positive association with the scent.
It’s probable that once your male dog is used to the presence of a baby, he’ll become protective of it. His protectiveness will manifest in two ways: He’ll become territorial and he'll become more suspicious of strangers. This is a natural reaction to having a weaker, needy member in the pack. So when the doorbell sounds or strangers come over in the street to coo over the baby, expect Fido to go into “protect mode.”
Male dogs are more prone to attention-seeking behavior than females. This is because females are typically more independent, more comfortable with their own company. With a new baby in the house, your male dog is a lot more likely to display attention-seeking behavior as he begins to notice you’re focusing more on something other than him. Quite naturally, a lot of your time will be dedicated to baby, but do be aware that your male dog will take note of this too. He may whine, paw at you or nudge you for attention when you're with the baby. Make time to give the dog one-on-one attention to avoid this. Ignore him when he vies for your attention.
Once he’s used to the presence of the baby, your male is dog is likely to be an affectionate and loving friend to the baby. Males are typically more affectionate than females; so once he’s used to the baby, he’ll be just as keen as you are to shower the baby with love. Despite his affections, never leave a dog and a baby together unsupervised, even for a second.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.