There’s no denying the special bond between dogs and their owners, so it’s only natural to have concerns about adding a new baby to your pack. Will they get along? Will your pooch get jealous? What if they nip at the baby? How can you start introducing your dog to your newborn?
While most dogs will grow to become great family pets, there are few things you can do to ensure a safe introduction.
The key is to gradually help your dog get used to the idea that a baby is on the way long BEFORE you actually bring the newborn home.
Did you know your dog can smell the difference in your body chemistry when pregnant? Some pups respond to changing hormone levels by acting more affectionate and protective towards you.
Return the love and reassure them everything will be ok.
Prepare Your Dog for Change
Does your dog follow you from room to room, jump on your lap, or sleep in your bed? While none of these behaviors are problematic in themselves, they could become issues once the baby arrives. Work on breaking those habits before the baby shows up.
Reward your pup for sleeping in his/her own bed with praise and treats. Establish boundaries and consider formal training if need be.
Dogs can easily pick up on feelings, so if you’re anxious about the initial meeting of your dog and baby, it’s likely they’ll be anxious as well.
Encourage a friend or family member to take your dog on a long walk before introducing them to the baby.
Limit the time of interaction upon their first meeting. Eventually, they’ll be able to hang out for longer periods of time, but by keeping the first visit short, you’re teaching the dog to respect the baby. Also, avoid holding the baby too high.
This could encourage jumping. Let the dog come to you, never bring the baby to the dog.
Buy a New Toy
Give the dog a new toy once the baby arrives. This serves two purposes, first, it distracts them, second, the dog associates the baby with positive feelings, and hopefully, that’ll result in good behavior!
Put the toy away when the baby is not present.
Establish a Routine
Welcoming a new family member can be stressful, so it’s important to try and establish a routine as soon as possible. Give your dog plenty of attention when the baby is around / awake.
When the baby goes down for a nap, it’s “quiet time” for the dog. Going for walks can also be a great family bonding activity.
If your dog enjoys playing with other dogs, consider taking him/her to a dog daycare to burn off that extra energy so they’re nice and calm for you at home.
Teach your dog to sit or stay at the door of your baby’s room. They should only enter once invited in by you or your partner. Remember, you are the boss, the alpha.
They need to learn their place in the growing pack. If your dog is lying in your way, do not walk around the dog or attempt to step over it, command the dog to move.
Again, you are establishing your higher pack position while also avoiding a potential tripping hazard. Remember to keep the baby’s door closed so your dog gets used to the restricted area. You can also install a baby gate.
Lastly, never leave your dog alone with the baby, even if you’re certain the two get along. Animals are unpredictable and your baby’s safety should always be the first priority.
Building a special bond takes time, patience and lots of supervision.
Are You Introducing Your Dog to Your Newborn?
What tips have helped your dog and newborn get better acquainted – we’d love to hear them in the comments below!
Shannon Bonetti is a former TV news anchor turned PR consultant expecting her first child in July 2020. She’s originally from the Bay Area but has lived in Nevada for the last 10 years. When she’s not managing clients, Shannon is usually hanging with her hubby Brett and their two pups Timber and Bentley. Her hobbies are cooking, reading and volunteering with local nonprofits. Her favorite weekend activities include day-tripping to Tahoe or scouring the internet for good deals!