If your dog is getting a new brother or sister of the human variety, you may be afraid of how they will react. Your dog has probably already noticed something is going on. There are new things coming into the house, you’re acting differently as you get ready for your new arrival, and even though it isn’t a scientific certainty, there’s a good chance that if you’re pregnant, your dog can smell it. This can even lead some dogs to get more protective of you.
Bringing home a new baby is a huge change for everyone. Your dog might be used to being the “baby” of the house, and the sudden change might leave them confused and uncertain. You can totally navigate these tricky waters if you’re ready to put in the work. Successfully introducing your dog to the new baby also lays the groundwork for your baby to grow into a smart and sensitive dog owner in the future. Let’s get started and discuss the ins and outs of how to introduce your dog to your new baby.
Introducing Your New Baby To Your Fur Baby
Let your dog be a part of preparations. The process of getting your dog acquainted with the baby starts before you even bring the baby home. As you prepare to bring home your newest family member, let your dog sniff around. When you set up the baby’s room, let your dog have a look around. Let him become familiar with the new things coming into the house so it doesn’t all seem strange. This will help reduce the level of anxiety your dog may be feeling around all of the sudden changes.
Review training. Go back over the basic commands your dog should know. Even if you’ve slipped up over time, you want to re-establish controlled behavior to help your dog navigate the new normal in your household.
Give your dog plenty of love. Of course it’s normal to be absorbed with getting everything ready for the baby. Just remember, you also have a commitment to your dog. Your pup still deserves all the love and attention they got prior to you expecting a baby.
Let your dog get to know the baby’s scent. Before you bring the baby home, have your partner or a friend bring home a blanket or a piece of clothing with the baby’s scent on it. THis will help your dog get acquainted with the smell of their new sibling.
Be calm when you come home. When you come home with the baby, stay calm. Your dog will take cues from you, so if you seem to be distressed, your dog will pick up on this, and it could cause a tense introduction.
Don’t freak out if your dog ignores the baby. If your dog gives the baby a sniff, then retreats to her crate, let her. She’s just processing the new stranger in the house and needs some time to adjust.
Conversely, don’t get frustrated at your dog for being really curious about your baby. This is all new to her as well. The important thing to remember is that every dog responds to a big change like this differently. If you respect your dog’s response and give them the space they need to adapt, they will!
Let your dog sniff the baby. It's a natural instinct to be protective of your baby. But remember, this is how your dog experiences the world. Let her gently sniff the baby and learn to associate their smell with you and the rest of your household. If your dog follows you while you change the baby, don’t scold the dog. Let it happen. Again, your dog will be taking cues from you, and if you’re calm, your dog will be calm.
Take the baby when you exercise your dog. Now is not the time to slack off on walks, even if they may not be as long as they used to be. Your dog still needs exercise, and maintaining that routine will help your dog accept the new stranger in the house. Grab the stroller, or pop the baby in a front pack or sling, and head out. Not only are you all getting some much needed fresh air, the baby is becoming a pleasant association for your dog because leash + carrier + baby = outside time.
Do not leave your dog unsupervised once the baby is mobile. This is equal parts for your dog’s safety as well as the baby’s. Babies learning to grab things are not the most gentle, and they are not above shoving an ear or a tail in their mouth. Keep both of them safe by supervising every interaction.
Give your dog a safe space. Whether it’s a crate, or a gated off area of the house, make sure your dog has a place to go when dealing with a baby gets to be too much. This gives your dog space to reset, and feel safe, and can help reduce any stress they have about the new situation.
Teach your baby how to treat the dog. If your baby whacks your dog too hard trying to “pet” them, quickly redirect and show them how it’s done. Establish early on that your dog has feelings and isn’t a toy so your child can grow to appropriately interact with animals.
Give your dog plenty of love. No, this isn’t a typo. You don’t want to shove your dog to the side because there’s a new baby at home. Your child will pick up at a very young age how you treat animals, and this will influence how they behave around them. Give your dog plenty of love so they know they are still part of the family and so you’re setting a good example.
Bringing home a new baby is a happy, overwhelming, and stressful time. This is true for your dog too. Give them the patience that they need to get used to the new development, while keeping a watchful eye, and your baby and your dog will grow to be thick as thieves in no time.