Introducing Your Dog to a New Baby
A big adjustment has to be made by all family members including pets in the homestead when a new baby arrives. Moreover, bringing home a new baby is a lot for any person/pet to handle as a new member has been introduced to the environment. It might be a joy for the parents but also a confusing time for your dog.
A dog is a great companion for any family as it has many benefits that bring positive impacts to our families. Making proper introductions to your dog and baby make the adjustment easy.
The home will have new smells and cries and laughter and can be a big adjustment. Your dog was used to all the attention but now has to learn to share time and attention with the baby. He might feel like a new competitor is invading his space and feel neglected and jealous.
For things to run smoothly, prepare your dog for the arrival of your new addition by teaching the required skills. The dog might not have been trained as a puppy hence the training will be important.
Tips for Introducing Baby To Your Dog
We have a few tips to get your pup ready for your family’s new addition before the newborn arrives.
There will be a lot of physical changes as the house now has to also be childproof. Play gates will be a necessity now to restrict areas of the house, especially while the baby is asleep. A well-mannered dog will be easy to introduce to the new member of the family. Obedience classes and basic command training will be essential for an easy transition.
Introduce Baby Sounds at Home
The baby will come with new sounds from crying to screaming and you have to prepare your dog to new sounds to cope well. We have baby monitors, storybooks, baby walkers that have baby sounds. You can play them to your dog before the baby comes to prepare your dog.
Introduce Baby Items to your Dog
Your dog has noticed things are changing even the home atmosphere.
Things of the baby are in the nursery, your bedroom or common rooms making it hard for the dog not to notice.
Baby supplies including lotions, powders, and soaps will smell different from the adult soap, introduce your dog to those smells by allowing him to sniff your baby’s thing.
When the baby is brought home the dog will associate the smell with the baby.
Start walking your dog with the baby stroller to make her used to change of routine.
Implement Change Gradually
Before the baby arrives start changing the time you start spending with your dog three to four-week prior to baby arrival.
The amount of play and walks you do together if your dog should gradually reduce as you prepare for the arrival of your baby.
Remember the dog can be jealous, have specific times you spend with him/her, make the routine favourable for both you and your baby to avoid any conflicts.
From baby crib, grooming items, the baby scents will be smelled in her clothes and bed and the dog can smell too.
No matter how unlikely you think it is that your trusted pet would hurt your infant, have guidelines on how to introduce them to each other. With training, your dog should be able to understand the basic command, especially when near the baby. When you tell him “stay” he should not go near the baby.
The baby should not be left unsupervised and when big enough to understand ensure she/he respect the dog. Most pets wouldn’t harm a baby intentionally, unless provoked or when unsupervised.
Teach Respect to Your Dog and Baby
Respect should be both ways. The dog should learn to respect the baby the same way it respects you. As the baby grows let her/him know it is not good to disrespect the dog.
Discourage your baby from pulling dogs’ ears or tail as even the calmest dog can react negatively.
Have gates blocking the baby’s room or nursery to avoid the dog from gaining entry to those areas.
Keep the baby away from the dog’s private places and toys, dogs are territorial and might get aggressive when the baby is playing with his toys or food bowls.
What to do on Baby’s arrival at the Home
Greet Dog Alone
As much as everyone is excited about the new baby do not greet your dog while holding the baby.
Give the baby to someone else and greet the dog allow as it might jump on you with excitement.
Your dog routine may change a lot which might be upsetting if not handled well.
It may be a difficult time for your dog, especially if she/he has been the only party receiving love and attention from you for a while.
Plan your Dog Play/Bonding Time
To avoid your dog feeling neglected have time for the dog alone, play and bond just the two of you without the baby.
The dog will behave like a baby and just like sibling rivalry may feel neglected when the baby is around and act negatively. Try to spend some one-on-one playtime with your dog or delegate to another family member. Go for walks together, play together and still be her leader be consistent.
Familiarize Dog to Baby Scent/Sound
The first day is not the day for introducing your dog to your newborn. Dogs can transfer ticks, bacteria, and viruses. Let your dog get used to your baby’s smell, sound, and sight before allowing him near the baby.
Give your Dog a Good Resting Place
Have a crate or bed or a secluded place for your dog’s quiet time. Importantly a place she can retreat to when you are busy with the baby. Make the place comfortable and warm you can add a blanket and toys.
Additionally, teach your dog commands that will make her know it is baby time, for instance, “go to a place” you can point to a place and say the command for the dog to associate the word with the action. When the dog obeys give praise or treat and say okay.
Repeat this severally with different time lengths for the dog to grasp. This command can help a lot when you want your time with the baby and the dog will not feel neglected and alienated.
Incorporate your dog into your Baby’s Activities
Slowly introduce the baby to the dog. When rocking the baby let the dog be there and watch from a distance.
With time allow the dog to rock the baby together with you.
In addition, when taking your baby on a walk-in her stroller allows the dog to accompany you on a leash and with time it will be automatic as you all do it together.
Supervise Interactions with Baby
Do not assume the dog will be friendly to the baby even when trained. Supervise all interactions.
Start introducing your baby from a distance, make sure the dog is held firmly on the leash and anticipate having to pull him back if he exhibits negative behavior.
Keep your dog away from the baby nursery and allow her/him in when you are around.
Be your baby protector, let your dog know they are areas around the baby that are out of bound. These can be implemented using baby gates to limit the areas.
Do not leave your baby on the floor unsupervised, when the baby is a newborn she/he is defenseless and you act as their protector.
Shield your baby from any licking or nipping of ears, this will let your dog know your baby is your possession and should be respected the way you are respected as the owner.
Remember all the love and attention that you have been showing to your dog will be shared with the baby from now on. A lot of transition and understanding is required from your dog.
If you do not prepare your dog well she/he can be jealous and tough for your baby too as now your focus shifts from the dog to the baby.
Alongside this, it is your job as a dog owner to keep your baby safe around the dog. This will take a lot of work and effort to make your dog adapt well.
Train her/him on how to behave around the baby and lastly supervise their interactions.