Firstly, congratulations on the birth of your new baby! With your family just a little bit bigger, you’ve likely prepared your house for their arrival – but for all the dog parents out there, there’s an extra job to plan and prepare, isn’t there?
Of course, bringing home your new-born baby can be a stressful situation; it can be made so much worse if you have the added task of introducing your pooch to the newest family member.
You want the introductions to be safe most importantly, but you also want them to be successful. To do this, you need to be careful and progress gradually, just like when you first brought your dog home. Let’s face it, everyone has the image of their child growing up with a furry, four-pawed best friend.
In this article, you will learn the best ways to introduce your dog to your baby. There are plenty of things you can do make the change a positive one for your dog, and some of them can even begin before you’ve even given birth.
What to Do BEFORE the Baby Arrives
Prepare your dog for the future event.
You have nine months to prepare, so use that time wisely.
Some dogs notice when you’re pregnant and may be apprehensive about the upcoming arrival. They may not be comfortable with your mood swings or your body changing shape. Many dogs will also notice when you’re preparing the nursery for the baby and get anxious about what’s to come.
You can help your dog understand that everything is going to be okay by explaining what is happening, and that you need your dog to be a good boy or girl around the baby. Some people like to bring their dog into the room where the baby’s nursery is set up to make it more familiar to your dog. You can also leave a teddy or a doll in the room for your dog to snuggle with. This will make your dog feel more comfortable with the new environment.
You can tell your dog that he will be a big help with the baby and that he will be the one to teach the baby how to play and be well-behaved. Dogs will naturally want to make their owners happy and they’ll usually love helping you take care of your baby.
Prepare for some new rules and boundaries.
Your dog may need to be kept away from the baby’s crib or bassinet at first, if the baby is still sleeping in one. You may also want to put a fence up around your baby’s crib temporarily to make sure your dog won’t jump up on the bed.
Dogs can also be injured or scared of a baby’s wiggling, so it’s best to keep them away from your baby’s reach until the dog is more comfortable with the new family member.
Make sure you’ll have the time, energy, and resources to care for your dog and baby. Remember, your dog is part of your family, so you should love, care for, and train your dog as you would any other family member. You might even want to treat him a little more than usual with the best dog food and extra toys.
Also, don’t forget that you’ll have a new baby to care for. Your dog could be jealous of the attention you’re giving the baby, and you may need to focus a little more on your dog to make sure he’s getting the attention he needs.
Introducing Your Dog to Your Baby
Keep the first introduction calm and controlled.
If you are able to, bring something home with the baby’s scent on it – a blanket or onesie – before the baby gets home. This will let your dog get used to the scent and recognise it when the baby is home.
But before you bring your baby home, take your dog for a walk to get rid of any excitable energy. You can then set up a bed and a blanket for your dog in a room that’s close to the baby’s nursery. Make sure you’re able to reach the dog easily, and that the dog is comfortable and relaxed in his new area.
When the baby comes home, you can take the dog to the nursery and leave him in there with the door open. If the dog is comfortable, he’ll stay in the room and may even lie down. If you give him a treat or a toy, he’ll stay in the room even longer.
You can have your dog in the room with you while you’re holding or feeding the baby. You can even take the dog for a walk with the baby in a pram. This will help your dog get used to the fact that the baby will be part of your family.
Try to correct any undesirable behaviour early.
Don’t let the dog jump on or bite the baby. If the dog does this, you need to teach him that he can’t do this. You can do this by giving him a negative association with the baby.
Simply put a leash on your dog and give a firm “NO” when he jumps up or bites. Don’t shout or hurt your dog; you just need to give him a quick tap on his nose or a jerk of the leash.
Your dog will soon learn that doing this will not make you happy. You can then reward your dog when he doesn’t jump on the baby. You can also train your dog to sit or lie down when you say “down”, or to stay in one place.
Help your dog get used to the baby over time.
Make sure your dog is comfortable with the new baby. If you notice your dog is uncomfortable around the baby, you can try to give the dog a fun toy while the baby is in the room. This will help the dog associate the baby with good things.
You can give the dog a treat or a toy while he is sniffing the baby in a gentle manner. This will teach your dog that the baby is okay and that your dog can be around the baby without being punished. Your dog will learn that the baby is okay, especially if you are with him.
If you have a dog that is nervous, scared, or aggressive around the baby, it’s best to find a professional trainer to help you. Some dogs may never be comfortable around babies, and your dog may not be able to be around your baby. However, if your dog is comfortable and he’s not aggressive, he can help you take care of your baby.
Introducing a new baby into the home can be very stressful for a dog. However, if you prepare your dog for the baby and make it clear that the baby is a part of your family, you can help your dog get used to the new baby. Your dog will be a great helper, and he can make taking care of the baby easier for you.
You and your dog can enjoy the baby when you start with the right introduction.
How to Safely Introduce Your Dog to Your New-born Baby is a feature post