How to successfully introduce your dog to your new baby to ensure they are BFF’s
For many of us, our pets are our first “children,” soaking up our love and attention as valued members of our families. But everything changes when a new baby arrives. This can be a rough adjustment for our beloved canine family members. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help your fur baby accept and adapt to the new baby, and all the changes a new baby brings.
Let your dog “help” –
Though they can’t talk to us, our dogs understand a lot more than we tend to give them credit for. Making your dog a part of the new baby preparation can help him feel less threatened and anxious about the impeding changes. Let your dog explore the baby’s room as you add items and furniture, sniff the baby’s clothes as you fold and put them away, and get used to bulky items like strollers and car seats (which can be alarming to a dog that has never encountered them before).
Resist the urge to spoil your fur baby –
You may feel guilty, knowing that soon you will have less time and attention for your dog, and be tempted to lavish him with praise and affection while you still can. But this can backfire, as the dog will adapt to this new level of attention and may feel neglected or resentful when your primary focus switches to the baby. It’s actually a better idea to distance yourself slightly in advance of the baby’s arrival (while still being responsive to your dog’s needs), so he won’t associate the baby with a sudden lack of attention towards himself.
Bring home an item from the hospital before baby comes home –
Your dog is going to be very curious about where you went and what you’ve been doing. By giving him a chance to smell an item that has been close to the baby’s skin (like a onesie or receiving blanket) the dog can begin to satisfy that curiosity and acclimate himself to the unique smell of the new human being that will soon be entering his home.
Come inside with new baby gradually –
You dog will be excited by your return and anxious about the new adventure your family is embarking on. Excited dogs can jump, scratch, and nip, causing pain and injury unintentionally. To ensure this doesn’t happen, have one parent enter the home first, without the baby, so the dog has a chance to express its excitement and calm down a little. Make sure you have control over your dog when you bring the baby inside, and carefully monitor their interactions to ensure neither gets overstimulated.
Teach the baby to love the dog –
As your baby gets bigger, she will naturally be curious about the world around her, particularly the creatures with whom she shares a home. Be sure to model respectful behavior towards your dog. Gently stop the baby from doing things like pulling ears and tails, or being too rough with a dog’s body or face. Even the most well-behaved dog can bite or scratch when hurt. This is also an excellent opportunity to teach your child empathy for other living beings, hopefully instilling a sense of kindness that will persist throughout life.
Introducing a new baby to a family dog can definitely be an adjustment, but with proper preparation, it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant one. For more helpful advice on your parenthood journey (with or without fur babies) check out http://www.newborncourse.com.