Bringing home a new baby is a wonderful, exciting time: one of the best days of most people’s lives. There is a huge amount of work to do to get ready for the big day. For those of us who already have a fur baby at home, there is some extra planning and preparation needed to make sure that the new arrival is a happy event for all the family.
Introducing Your Dog to A New Baby
Your dog loves routine and a new baby is going to change that. Your dog may also be used to being the centre of attention in your house and having unfettered access to your love and attention. She may not be keen on having her tail tugged, or having inquisitive little fingers stuck up her nose. These are all challenges for new parents with dogs. Preparation and planning are they key to success.
What to Do During Pregnancy
The good thing is that you have nine months to prepare your dog for the baby’s arrival.
#1. Refresh your Dog’s Basic Command Training
You need your dog to be in complete obedience mode when the baby arrives. That means consistently brushing up on your pet’s actual command execution. Simple instructions like “stay,” “away,” or “leave it” can be helpful, especially when you want the dog to stay away from your child for some reason or the other.
#2. Establish Boundaries
Once your nursery is set up, it is up to you to decide if this place will be utterly off-limits to your dog or not. If you want to go in that direction, start teaching your dog that it is not allowed inside the room, regardless of whether you are there.
Be consistent with the routine so that once your baby is home, you can be confident that your dog will stay outside the room. Learning how to introduce your dog to a new baby doesn’t always involve planning their first meeting.
#3. Make Changes Gradually
Dogs live by a specific routine. So a new family member can cause your pet to get confused with the sudden changes.
Introduce these changes as soon as possible to give your dog the time it needs to get accustomed to the new guidelines.
For example, if your dog’s sleeping setup will change once the baby is home, then make sure that before your due date, your pet is already comfortable in its new room or corner of the house. You can also introduce children’s toys and kids to your dog so it can get more comfortable with “smaller humans.”
If you already have a stroller, go on walks with your dog. That way, you can also find the best strategy for maneuvering it with your dog on a leash. At the same time, your dog will get used to walking beside the stroller.
What To Do Before The Baby Comes Home
#4. Introduce the Baby’s Scent
Once you give birth, you can ask someone to bring home a onesie or blanket with your baby’s scent and let your dog get familiar with this smell. At the same time, you can also re-establish boundaries for your dog by permitting it to sniff the garment up close on your terms.
This will teach your dog that it needs authority before it can get close to the scent, a.k.a the baby, once it arrives.
What To Do Once The Baby’s Home
#5. Slow Does It
Your baby and dog will be together for a long time. So their first meeting must go well.
As soon as the baby comes home from the hospital, you can allow your dog to take a sniff – a familiar scent thanks to the previously introduced clothes and leave it at that for the introduction.
You can always put your dog in a separate room while it is getting accustomed to the new addition to the family. If needed, consider going back to crate training (it’s not cruel) so your pet can have somewhere to retreat to if it so pleases.
#6. Every Dog Is Different, Be Patient
Unlike in Instagram videos where dogs cuddle up and become protective of the newborn at the first instant, remember your realities.
Some dogs wouldn’t even go near the baby or walk away disinterested.
Don’t get frustrated with your pet if this happens. Adjusting doesn’t have a fixed timeline. Sooner or later, your dog will warm up to your child and form that bond you want them to have.
#7. Take It One Day At A Time
Having a baby is not just new to you. It is also the same for your dog.
It is up to you to create learning cues on how to teach a dog to be gentle with babies. You can start by always involving your dog in the baby’s activities. For instance, have your dog slowly come over and sit with you when you’re holding your baby.
Talk to your dog and when you see it being gentle with your newborn, give it a treat.
If your dog is still learning to control itself around your baby, use positive reinforcement and encourage the effort. Soon, your dog will know how to adapt to a baby in the house.
You know your dog better than anybody, so make changes as you see fit.
How to introduce a hyper dog to a baby?
Let your dog release its energy first. Go for a walk at the dog park and spend time playing with your pet. When it comes to meeting the baby, your dog will be calmer than usual, making the process easier to handle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do dogs get jealous of new babies?
Yes, there are instances when your dog can get jealous of your newborn. Dogs are incredibly social animals who love getting attention and following a routine. Any change in it can affect their behavior.
To avoid this, involve your dog in the changes. If you find yourself too busy with the baby, which can be expected, ask someone familiar with your dog to take it out for walks. You can also indulge your dog with new toys to entertain and mentally stimulate it.
How long should I wait to introduce my dog to my newborn?
It’s all up to you. There is no deadline or the need to rush the introductions. You can wait several days to have time exclusively for your baby and just let your dog observe from a distance.
You will know when the time is right to let these two essential beings in your life meet up close and personal.
Is it safe to have a dog around a newborn?
Some dog parents would insist that their dogs won’t hurt the baby, but for your peace of mind, never leave your newborn with your dog unsupervised.
Always be there; this rule applies even if your child is no longer a newborn. Being in the same room with your dog and baby doesn’t mean you don’t trust your dog.
Rounding It Up
Caring for a dog AND a new baby is a whole lot of work, but for a child, growing up around animals is a wonderful experience: the dog is an extra family member to love and over time your child will likely develop a strong bond with your dog. Your child will also grow up with confidence and common sense around animals which will be a skill they carry with them all their life. You need to be patient, creative, and practical in your ways of introducing your dog to a new baby. Have faith, be patient, and follow these tips for a successful introduction. It will be well worth the effort!