Bringing your newborn home is an exciting time, especially if they’re your first born. But for your dog this can be an extremely confusing time as they’re not used to having this tiny human in the house. Put yourself in their paws and imagine how they’re feeling, this small baby looks like a person but certainly doesn’t smell or behave like the adults they’re used to.
Not only that, but more of your time will now be taken up with the baby and your dog could become jealous or upset by this. So before you jump straight in and sit down on the sofa with your dog on one side and baby on the other, there are a few steps you can take to make this transition easier for your pet. Here’s MyBaggage.com’s top advice for introducing your dog to your newborn.
Prepare before the baby arrives
Before the baby is born there are a number of steps you can take to make the transition as easy as possible for both you and your dog. Below we’ll look at how best to prepare the dog for the arrival of your little one.
Make sure your dog is well trained
It is of course important that your dog is well trained in most cases, but this is even more true when bringing a baby into the family. Be sure they understand how to sit and that they know when to go to their bed or crate if told to. They need to understand the word ‘no’ or ‘down’ and should know not to jump up when visitors arrive. If your dog is young or struggles with any of these basic commands, it can be a good idea to attend some training classes beforehand.
Get them used to new routines
If they’ll no longer be allowed in the bedroom, they’ll be left when mum (and baby) are napping or they’ll occasionally be shut behind a baby gate, it helps to get them used to this routine before the baby is born. This way they don’t just associate this huge change with the baby, they can begin to adapt beforehand. Start introducing these new routines a few months before the baby arrives, leaving them while you nap (even if you’re pretending too) and keeping baby gates closed for a short period each day.
Fill the house with the baby’s things
One way to help them get used to the new baby is to already have their things in the house. Get them used to standing by the pram and seeing baby toys, cots, playpens and blankets. At this stage you can also introduce baby smells such as talcum powder or lotions and allow them to get used to the smell of the baby’s clothes. You could also play sounds into the house such as the sound of a baby crying or the music from the baby’s mobile.
Make sure they have a safe place
Make sure the dog has a safe haven if things get too much. Whether this is a blanket in the spare room, a crate in the living room or a bed in the kitchen. They need to know they have an escape and somewhere they can relax if the baby is being particularly fussy or there’s lots of guests round visiting the newborn.
When the baby arrives
When the baby arrives, you need to be very careful and tactical when intruding the two. Follow the steps below to ensure your dog doesn’t become jealous of the baby and falls in love with your newborn just as you have.
Go into the house one at a time
When you first arrive back from the hospital it could be a nice idea for mum to go in first, especially if you’ve been away a few days. This lets the dog greet you and have a quick fuss before the baby is in the house. Dad can follow behind with the baby.
Let the dog adjust to the baby in the house
Before really allowing the dog to get too close, it’s a good idea to give them a few days to adjust to having a baby in the house. Allow them to see the baby from a distance, hiding them away could cause problems, but let them get used to the smells and noises before the formal introduction.
Introduce them slowly
When the day comes for them to meet properly, it’s best to keep the dog on a short leash or to hold onto their collar so you have an element of control. It can also be a good idea to have an adult in between as a barrier. Then, slowly allow them to meet the baby off their leash. Don’t panic or act nervous during the meeting as the dog will pick up on this.
Don’t completely ignore the dog
Once the baby is home your priorities will change, but you need to make a conscious effort not to ignore the dog. When the baby is asleep or perhaps in the evenings give your dog a fuss and show them, they are still just as loved. It’s also important that they still get their regular walks, so they are able to blow off some steam and won’t become overexcited in the house.
Praise them for getting things right
Be sure to praise them for their good behaviour. If they greet the baby calmly then treat them and tell them they’re doing good. You can also use treats to praise them for going in their bed or crate when told or staying behind the baby gate without making a fuss. This helps them to understand that they’re not in trouble and the baby is nothing to be concerned about.
Don’t get mad if they pick up baby toys
Dogs are playful and some in particular can’t resist a toy. So, don’t get mad at them if they pick up any of the baby’s stuff, you can always wash or sterilise it, just don’t let them grab teethers or other products that will be going into the baby’s motuh.. If you tell them off for picking up the baby’s things, they may begin to resent the newborn.
As they grow, teach the baby boundaries too
It doesn’t stop as soon as the baby is home for a week or two. As they begin to grow and crawl, they too need to understand that the dog has boundaries. They should not be allowed to climb on the dog or pull their ears or tail. The dog should also have a safe place to go to if the baby continues to do this.