Bringing a baby into a household is a large adjustment for everyone. For the parents, it is a massive change in routine and responsibilities. Any other children in the house may be unsure, excited, or nervous about the addition of an infant. However, a lot of people don’t think about pets and how a pet would feel about the addition of a baby. The truth is that adding a baby to a household can be quite stressful for pets, especially dogs.
If you notice that your dog is acting strange shortly after the baby comes home, you may be worried that the dog is sick, and if it is sick, if it could pass on the illness to the infant. Before you worry about visiting the vet, you should first consider the idea that your dog may be jealous of the baby.
Why Do Dogs Get Jealous of Baby?
Think about what it would feel like to have a baby added to the household from your dog’s perspective. Suddenly, this new creature that is loud and smells strange is taking up all of your attention. Your dog doesn’t know that you are still going to pay attention to it after the baby is taken care of. From the dog’s perspective, the newborn baby is stealing the dog’s spotlight. Some dogs treat this as a competition, while other dogs will become jealous and act out because of this.
10 Signs Your Dog Is Jealous of Baby
1. Your Dog Is Pushier Than Usual
While many dogs enjoy the close company of their owners, when a baby is brought into the house, some dogs may start making a noticeable effort to be even closer to their owners, especially when the baby is involved. This could be trying to force itself onto your lap when you are holding the baby, or it could be whining and hanging out on top of your feet.
2. Your Dog Is Becoming More Aggressive
Many dogs express their stress and jealousy as aggression, often directed at the baby. This includes growling, barking, and baring its teeth at the baby or its crib. Your dog may also take an aggressive stance, as if it is trying to pick a fight with the baby. This is often due to the fact that your dog is treating the baby as another dog and is trying to establish its dominance over the baby.
3. Your Dog Is Leaving the Room If You Enter it
Some dogs will go in the opposite direction, becoming insecure and wanting to isolate themselves from this new, strange creature brought into the house. If you notice that the dog leaves the room any time the baby is present, this may be a sign that your dog is jealous but is simply not expressing it as outwardly as it could. Your dog may also sense that the baby is important and is good-natured enough not to start a fight with it.
4. Your Dog Is Showing Signs of Depression
In addition to leaving in the presence of the baby, some dogs will take things even further and become truly depressed as a part of their jealousy. The signs of depression in dogs include a lack of appetite, no longer having an interest in toys, and being overall lethargic. If you see your dog displaying any of these signs after you bring a baby into the house and you are still giving the dog the same amount of attention as you were before, you may want to consider the possibility that your dog is jealous.
5. Your Dog Is Having Accidents Despite Being Housebroken
Just as some dogs become aggressive and some dogs withdraw themselves, some dogs will begin to have accidents as a response. Accidents can stem from a few different sources that only the dog would know. Sometimes, it is a sign that your dog is marking its territory to show the baby who is dominant in the house. Sometimes, it is part of a bigger scheme of acting out for attention. In some cases, it is simply due to the stress of having a new being in the house.
6. Your Dog Is Overgrooming Itself
In most pets that have fur and groom themselves, overgrooming is a sign of stress, anxiety, and occasionally a symptom of OCD. In the case of a baby being brought home, overgrooming is often a direct response to the stress and unfamiliarity with the situation. Some experts in canine behavior also believe that overgrooming is a way that dogs cope with feeling unwanted and not getting enough affection, which could stem from the jealousy over a baby.
7. Your Dog Is Acting Out Despite Being Trained
In the same vein as the dogs that become aggressive, or depressed, some dogs will begin to act out in ways that you have long since taught the dog not to do. Your dog could begin jumping onto furniture if it usually isn’t allowed to do so, it could chew on shoes and socks, it could be running around and getting in people’s way. The possibilities are endless. In your dog’s mind, any attention is good enough as it draws you away from the object of its jealousy.
8. Your Dog Is Performing Tricks Unprompted
On the flip-side, there are dogs that will begin performing tricks that they have been taught. Rather than seeking out any attention and misbehaving, they will try to do things that they know garner praise. Your dog may stand on its hind legs, it may roll over, or it may do a favorite trick. In your dog’s mind, these are actions that are highly praised and rewarded, so if your dog feels jealous of the baby, it may “act out” in this manner.
9. Your Dog’s Eating Habits Suddenly Change
A change in eating habits is almost always a sign of distress in some form. In some cases, it is due to health problems. Other times, it is due to stress, depression, anxiety, and other changes in mental state. If your dog is eating considerably more or less than it usually does, this can be a sign that your dog is jealous, though this will often be combined with other behaviors on this list.
10. Your Dog Is Taking Out Anger on Other Animals
Last, but not least, your dog may also begin taking out its aggression or feelings of inferiority on other animals. If there are other pets in the house, your dog may begin displaying aggressive behaviors and try to assert dominance over them. Your dog may become more aggressive toward any dog it sees on the street. It may even try to be aggressive toward people on its walk. These are all signs that your dog is feeling insecure due to the baby.
Tips for Keeping Baby and Dog Happy Together
Bringing a child into the house is going to be an adjustment for your dog, no matter what you do to ease the process. With that being said, when you take the steps to ease the adjustment, you can prevent the worst of the jealousy or potentially all of it.
Before the baby comes home, first try bringing home blankets that the baby has been on for your dog to familiarize its scent with. Much of the stress that a baby causes a dog comes from simply not knowing what is happening. You should also finalize any furniture moving that needs to be done before the baby is home, as this adds to your dog’s stress. Additionally, if your dog has a favorite spot in the house, do not put the baby items there, as your dog may feel as if the baby is intruding on its favorite places.
When the baby is in the house, consider allowing the dog to meet the baby as well. Dogs should never, under any circumstances, be left alone with babies unsupervised. However, your dog should be allowed to sniff the baby. You can have the baby pet the dog, if the dog is willing to accept this. Try to associate being with the baby as being fun for the dog, whether it is taking the dog on a walk when you walk with the baby and making sure the dog still gets attention despite the presence of the newborn.