It doesn’t matter who was there first, puppy or child, dogs can absolutely get jealous of the younger members of the family. If a dog feels like a small child is a threat on its own social relationships, it can begin to display odd behaviors that go from annoying to dangerous. A jealous dog is more likely to “act up” and pee in odd places or destroy furniture. But the really worrying part is that jealous dogs can attack children, with terrible consequences.
Not all dogs behave like this, of course, most are just a happy to have someone else to play with. However, if your pet is acting up because of your new baby, it’s in your family’s best interest to take care of the problem as swiftly and firmly as possible, before your beloved pet becomes a serious threat. You should know that male dogs are more likely to become aggressive and bite kids than female dogs, so keep a close eye on them. On top of this, “fixed” dogs are usually tamer and have less of a chance of becoming aggressive, so you should really neuter or spray your pet.
All dogs should be closely supervised around babies and children, and you should never leave your pet alone with them unless there’s a trusted adult in the room. All kids should be taught how to properly interact with their pet. Teach your kids to respect the dog, to never hurt it, poke it in the face, try to ride it, pull on its tail or otherwise cause pain. Furthermore, teach them the signs of an angry dog: flat ears, bare teeth and growling mean that the kid should leave the dog alone. Finally, make sure your dog is properly socialized. If the pup has trouble interacting with people, then it’s even more dangerous for the kids.
If your pet never went through obedience training, now it’s a good time to start. If you have the time, you can train it yourself, but if you have the resources it’s better to hire a professional. Properly trained dogs are less likely to become aggressive and harm a child. There are other things you can do to make your dog feel comfortable and minimize jealousy. Make sure your dog is not feeling neglected, try to keep the same routines and give it as much attention as you always did. Never let your infant play near the dog’s food, toys or bed, as that will make the dog perceive the baby as a competitor. And when your child is old enough, let him or her hold the dog’s leash, give it treats and play fetch (always under your close supervision) to create a positive bond between them.
The good news is that most dogs experience little or no jealousy of children and will welcome the youngest member of the pack with open paws. The bad news is that some dogs become extremely jealous and aggressive. Your children come first. The second you think your dog can be a threat to them, find a new home for your pet. You risk paying too high of a price.