Your dog has been your baby since you brought him home all those years ago. He goes with you everywhere he can, sits on your lap as often as possible, and gets more love and attention than most people in your life. Then it happens: a new miracle enters your life and it’s time to introduce your fur baby to the new baby.
There is a lot to consider when introducing dogs and babies, so it’s best to prepare for this transition in advance. We’re going to share the perfect ways to help your dog accept a new baby into his life. Dogs and babies may seem like they’re world’s apart, but pretty soon they’ll be family!
You know your dog best
This article was written as a guide for introducing dogs and babies. That being said, not everything here will apply to all dogs, all babies, or all families. You know your dog best, so pick and choose which of these areas you need to focus on and get to work.
Tips for preparing
There are several things you should be doing to get your dog ready for your new addition and you’ll want to get started as soon as possible.
Share the load
If your dog is a momma’s boy or daddy’s girl you’ll need to start balancing the family dynamic. This means you and your partner need to spend equal time with your dog, show equal affection, and share the responsibilities of walking, feeding, and so on. This balance will come in handy when the baby comes, too. You’ll want all the help you can get!
The more sociable your dog is, the more readily they will welcome a new member of the family. Socialization takes time and if your dog hasn’t spent much time with babies or small children, it’s important to get them out of the house and get started.
Introduce your dog to your friends’ or coworkers’ children, the younger the better. Do this as much as possible until they enjoy their company like they enjoy that of an adult.
Break bad habits
Sometimes we spoil our furry babies and let them get away with more than they should. This behavior has to stop before baby arrives. If your dog pushes you around, it’s time to start being more assertive.
Dogs and babies each demand a lot of your attention. When the dog feels the baby is stealing your focus they will likely act out with such unacceptable behaviors as peeing in the house, chewing on shoes, or whining and barking for attention, and their tolerable bad habits may become a major problem.
For example, if your dog is a chewer, make sure they have lots of appropriate chew toys. If you don’t work on your dog’s behavior now, it will be difficult to do so when the baby arrives.
Don’t leave the dog in the dust
In other words, make sure your dog still feels like your baby. Help them remember they are a special part of your lives on a regular basis and you’ll have an easier time introducing a baby into your home.
Something to look forward to
Help your dog get used to having a baby around so they are familiar with the routine by the time your little one arrives.
- Wear a teddy bear in a baby carrier to get them used to the sight of a baby on your chest.
- Walk the dog with an empty stroller.
- Play baby music and the baby’s noise machine.
- Prepare your dog for some irregularities. Change up feeding times, as well as when and how long you go for walks.
- Put the lotion you’ll use on the baby on the teddy bear and a baby blanket. The familiar smells and sights will create a positive association between the dog and baby.
- If you plan to keep your dog out of the baby’s room, start doing this before the baby arrives to get him used to the new routine.
Teaching your dog
The baby is on the way and that means it’s time to review doggy behavior 101. Be sure your dog hasn’t gotten lazy or forgetful. Selective hearing is quite common, but it simply won’t do when baby arrives.
- Review the basic sit, down, stay, and come commands.
- Make sure your dog responds to you from anywhere in the house while you are standing, sitting, and lying down. You’ll appreciate this when you have a baby on your chest.
- If your dog isn’t allowed in the baby’s room, practice creating a physical barrier, then a verbal barrier, and eventually the dog will learn not to cross the threshold.
- The command “relax” or “settle” is great for energetic dogs. Practice calling them to you and gathering their attention at the dog park with this command until they can easily be calmed in exciting situations.
- “Go sit down” will be another important command, as there will be times when you just can’t have the dog in the middle of what you’re doing with the baby.
- When the baby comes, use only positive reinforcement to teach your dog. It’s vital that they create positive associations and not be scolded in front of the baby.
Introduce your dog to your baby
When it’s time for your dog and baby to meet face to face there are steps you can take to ensure a positive result.
- Dogs and babies smell different. To get your pup used to the baby’s smell, have dad bring home the baby’s blanket (the more used the better). Be sure to leave it with the dog so he can get as much sniffing in as he likes.
- When the baby arrives home, allow mom or dad to exercise the dog to burn off excess energy. Upon returning from the walk they will recognize a new smell in the house and you’ll be happy to have a tired dog for the next steps.
- Everyone should be in a calm and relaxed state during the first meeting of dog and baby. Allow the dog to smell from a distance.
- Slowly bring the dog nearer and nearer until they are as close as you feel comfortable letting them be.
- The respect you command from your dog during this introduction will help them to recognize the baby as another alpha.
- Continue these gentle and respectful introductions on a daily basis.
Dogs and Babies Safety
There are a few safety issues to consider when you have dogs and babies in the same house.
- Don’t leave the baby unattended with the dog, even for a moment.
- No face-to-face contact or licking the baby.
- Make sure your dog is well exercised to keep them from becoming overexcited around the baby.
- Keep baby off the floor when the dog is around.
- Make sure the dog has its own area to get away from the baby with a few of their favorite things. This keeps the dog from feeling overwhelmed by the baby or getting stressed out.
- When the baby is old enough to interact with the dog, make sure there is no fear or possessiveness being displayed. If you have any concerns about the dog’s behavior, seek professional help immediately.
- Teach your baby to respect the dog’s space and boundaries as you’ve taught the dog to respect the baby’s. Pushed far enough, any dog will react and it’s imperative that you show your baby how to behave appropriately.
You’ll be bringing home an amazing new addition to your family soon. Taking steps to prepare now will save you trouble when the baby arrives. The last thing you’ll want to be doing with a newborn is having to train your dog, so get started today!