Introduce Your Dog to Your Baby By Molly Crockett |Published 03-27-2020
Dogs make great companions for children; for many of us who grew up around dogs, our fondest memories are with them. Long walks through parks and woods, playing catch in the garden, snuggling up with our pooches at night – and always, always, having a companion who loves you more than anything in the world!
However, it often takes some time before parents trust a dog with their baby, and it may take some time for the dog to get used to the new arrival.
That’s why the first meeting between your newborn and your dog is so important – this will set the tone for the rest of the relationship, so make sure you get it right!
Dogs are generally very in tune with their human owners, particularly our emotions. They can sense the new parents’ excitement, apprehension, and more negative emotions like fear and anxiety. With an event as monumental as a pregnancy, they can sense that things are changing – but they might not know what is happening!
So, how you choose to handle introducing your baby to your dog is very important – and be careful to check in with yourself about your feelings, too. If you are afraid of your dog’s reaction, they will sense this fear and feel frightened, also. If you are positive and introduce the baby joyfully, chances are your dog will feel good about it, too.
A baby can be a lot for a dog to get to grips with – they are, after all, tiny humans that smell, sound, and move entirely differently to big humans!
Your dog might never have seen a baby before, and all of a sudden, this tiny, loud human is taking up all of their owner’s time. Your dog might be confused, and they might even be jealous of the new arrival.
But if you plan and take the right steps before your baby arrives, you can create a bond between the new member of the family and their four-legged sibling!
Here are the best ways to prepare yourself and your dog for the new arrival!
This means taking basic obedience classes or hiring a dog trainer to work with you and your dog. Being able to command your dog not to jump, to sit down, and stay are all basic things that your dog needs to be able to do before you introduce them to your baby. You should also work on training your dog to come to you when you call – these will all come in handy in other situations, not just with a baby!
“The point here is to focus on leadership: you have nine months to work with your dog to train them and eliminate their worst habits. You must establish yourself as pack leader now so that your dog continues to obey you when you have a screaming baby in your hands!” Says Judith Garner, a lifestyle blogger at Bigassignments and Studydemic.
If anything is for sure, a baby will wreak havoc on the routine of the whole household. Get your dog ready for the possible changes beforehand – for example, if your dog will be walked later because you have to feed your baby in the morning, or sleep in later because they’ve kept you up all night crying!
Try to anticipate changes in your dog’s routine and start the new routine before the baby arrives, so the dog will not associate any changes with the baby. This will stop your dog from blaming the baby if they are fed or walked later than usual!
The fewer changes that happen all at once, the better – that includes changes to your dog’s walking habits. Walking with a stroller might mean taking a different route or going slower than usual. You can prepare your dog for this by walking them with a stroller well before the baby arrives.
The worst thing to do before a baby arrives is lavish your dog with attention last-minute, only to stop it when your baby comes. You should aim to gradually decrease the amount of attention you give to your dog and the amount of time you spend playing with them around 2-3 weeks before the expected birth date.
This is particularly useful to get your dog used to the sound of crying – which they are going to be hearing a lot of shortly! At first, try playing baby sounds for a short period, and gradually increase the length of time you play the sounds for so your dog can adjust.
Don't know where to find a baby crying? Try this YouTube video:
Introduce Your Dog to Your Baby: Crying Baby Sounds
Obviously, without a baby, there is no baby smell, but you can acclimate your dog to the scent of baby products like lotion and powder. If you have your baby in the hospital, you could bring a blanket home and let your dog smell it before the two meets!
Well, before the baby comes home, you have to teach your dog that the nursery is off-limits, and there is an invisible barrier there that your dog must not cross without permission.
You might allow your dog to explore and sniff around, under your supervision, but you control all of this and decide when they enter and leave. This lets your dog know this is your room and must always be respected.
You may need to install a physical barrier if training is unsuccessful.
“This is a useful trick that will come in handy if you ever need your dog to leave your baby alone,” says Arran Valentine, a pet writer at Oxessays and Eliteassignmenthelp.
“Use any mat, bed, or defined area, and train your dog to go there. You can do this by using treats, pointing to the area, and saying clearly ‘place’ and rewarding your dog when they go there on command.
Once they have learned the ‘place,’ add the command sit or down. Give your dog a reward once they are there, like a chew toy. They should learn that when commanded, they have to go there and sit and wait for a treat!”
Firstly, greet your dog alone, not whilst holding your baby – you don’t want your dog to jump up and all over your baby and scare them!
Give your dog a couple of days to adjust to the smell, sight, and sound of the baby before bringing them together in closer proximity.
Once a few days have passed, allow your dog to sniff your baby whilst they are on a leash. Give your dog plenty of encouraging pets and kind words in this first meeting. You might want to take them a walk first, to tire them out, or at least ensure your dog is in a calm, submissive state beforehand by practicing some commands and giving them some treats.
Remember, don’t be anxious – your dog senses your feelings and will mirror them.
Allow your dog to approach the baby and choose to interact with them – forcing your dog to go closer is not advised. Let it be their choice to interact with the new-born!
Once you feel your dog is used to the baby, allow them to sniff the baby off the leash, and to be free to move away if they want to.
Dogs may react differently when the baby screams, cries, or kicks. Always keep an adult present, just in case!
Praise your dog a lot when the baby is around, and don’t let them associate the baby with not receiving your love! Most dogs are fine with babies taking up a bit more of their owner’s time, but it’s better to err on the side of caution! That equates to not letting your dog feel neglected when the baby is around.
This may lead the dog to associate the smell of the baby with adverse reactions from their owner. So, don’t scold dogs for playing with the baby’s toys or picking up their blankets or food – simply take them away gently.
Babies grow quickly, and it can be difficult for dogs to adapt. Once they start crawling and exploring, they might start pulling on dogs’ ears and tails – this can, in some dogs, make them growl and snap back at the baby.
These are natural behaviours and show that your dog is warning the baby to stop. Even the most tolerant of dogs have their limits – so always keep an eye on your baby and make sure they’re not testing these limits!
Even if your dog and baby are by now best friends, it’s better not to leave them alone. Accidents can always happen, and as noted, even the most trustworthy dogs have their limits, can get hurt or afraid, and lash out. Don’t risk the safety of your baby, or your fur baby!
Having a safe space where your dog can retreat when the baby noise or interaction is getting too much is essential. Consider a crate, a dog bed, a special room, or an area outside when your pooch needs to escape.
Last but not least, keep your dog’s routine going, keep walking them, keep playing with them, and don’t neglect them. Your dog needs to feel secure in at home with you as the leader. Only then will he feel relaxed around the newest addition to the family.
Molly Crockett writes for Australianhelp and Paperfellows, as well as contributes to online sites, such as Stateofwriting online writing service. As a travel blogger, she enjoys sharing her experiences and her latest personal development ideas.
If you are like many, being a puppy mom came before being the mom to a baby of your own. Your dog thinks he/she is your baby and quite frankly, you've considered them more of a baby than a dog. Now you're faced with a new introduction.
Are you in the process of wondering how you will introduce your dog to your baby? Or, perhaps you've already mastered that hurdle. Wherever you are, we'd love to hear how you managed to bring puppy and baby together. Was it easy? Hard? Nerve wracking? Please share.
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