Learning how to introduce a dog to a baby can be extremely stressful.
In this article, you’re going to learn how to make those introductions safe and successful!
But before that…
Congratulations! Your family is getting a little bigger. With everything on your “before the baby” to-do list, dog moms and dads have one more all-important item to cover: Fido. Lots of excitement comes with a new baby, and your dog is already picking up on the new energy.
A dog is a great companion to you and your spouse, and with the right training, it can be a loving and calming presence for your child as well.
Research shows that children who grow up with dogs in their homes are less likely to have anxiety.
So to ensure that the relationship starts out on a solid foundation, let’s cover six tips for introducing a dog to your new baby!
1. Build New Routines
Well-behaved dogs need routines to follow. Regular morning walks, feeding schedules, potty breaks, playtime, and bedtime are all habits your dog has learned.
If a new baby enters the picture and all of these rituals are suddenly out-of-whack, your dog may get confused. It’s best to start establishing new habits early so that your dog knows what to expect when the baby comes.
A few months before your due date, start introducing new routines so they can get used to them.
If you anticipate you’ll take the baby out in the stroller at a different time than you walk your dog, start walking your dog at this new time. If bedtime is going to come earlier, get your dog used to this new schedule.
Also, know that with a new baby, you’ll have to divert some attention away from your dog.
It’s tempting to shower your dog with love right before the baby comes to make up for this, but this is harder on your pup. They may think, “I got all this attention until the baby showed up.” They could associate this lack of attention with the baby, which wouldn’t be good for anyone!
So, start weaning your dog off of constant attention early.
2. Let the Dog Explore Its Surroundings
A new baby means new sights, new smells and even new sounds. As you begin building your baby nest, give your dog a chance to get used to strange items like strollers and baby toys.
Strollers, high chairs, diapers, and car seats are all foreign to your dog’s world and can cause anxiety. Let him get used to them all now by encouraging him to sniff things from a safe distance.
If you have noisy baby toys, introduce your dog to the sounds they make.
The most important thing for the dog to get used to is the baby’s scent. Introduce any baby lotions and powders you plan to use with the baby a month or so in advance.
When the baby is born, bring home a blanket your baby has used for the dog to smell beforehand.
The major key is to let your dog learn and explore at their own pace, with plenty of positive reinforcement along the way!
3. Set Boundaries
Whether you think you need to or not, it’s smart to keep the nursery off-limits at first.
A few months before the baby arrives, start setting a boundary that the nursery should stay dog-free. It’s best to have your dog trained well enough that she won’t enter the room without you giving her the okay. (If you need help with that, check out the Boundaries Bud Game, part of our 21 Impulse Control Games.)
A few months before your new baby arrives is a good time to think about what house rules might change.
Do you still want the dog to be on the bed or the furniture?
Set any new rules now and start training your dog to follow them.
4. Introduce Them Gradually
When the time comes to bring your baby home, prepare your dog. To make sure the dog is calm, give him plenty of exercise to help him get his energy out.
When you come home from the hospital, greet the dog as you normally would. One parent should stay in the car with the baby while the other one enters and greets the dog. Then, return and watch the baby while the other person greets the dog
Keep the dog on a leash during their first meeting. When you bring the baby inside, keep calm and relaxed, so your dog follows your cue.
Let the dog observe and sniff the baby from a distance. Each day, allow the dog to come closer and closer, so the dog learns proper boundaries with the baby.
As you allow the dog to get closer, speak to your pup in a loving voice, praise good behavior and let the dog sniff the baby’s feet.
Avoid face to face contact at first, and slowly work up to this.
Again, the key, in the beginning, is to take things slowly and be there to monitor every step of the way!
5. Give Your Dog Attention
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the diaper changing, feedings and precious moments of sleep after the baby goes down. Don’t let this get in the way of showing your dog affection.
Your pup still needs daily exercise, playtime, and attention, and you can’t forget about this even with a new baby. Giving your dog attention and keeping up with their routine helps them stay secure in your household.
It’s vital to show the dog affection when your baby is awake rather than asleep. If the dog only gets attention when the baby is not around, she will notice. She might think that the baby takes the focus away from her, and this could breed resentment or confusion.
6. Teach Your Baby to Respect the Dog
Respect is a two-way street. So, as you teach your dog to respect the baby, remember to teach your baby to respect the dog.
Just as you would socialize your baby with other kids, family members and new people, it’s important to socialize them with your pets. Don’t let your newborn pull on the tail or ears, and as they get older, don’t let the baby climb on your pup or follow it into its crate.
When your dog shows signs of stress when playing with the baby — panting, lip-licking or looking away — it’s up to you to stop to the interaction.
Teaching kids to be respectful of the family dog is one of the earliest things you can do to foster lifelong respect for both animals and people.
Recap of How to Introduce a Dog to a Baby
Bringing a new member of the family home is exciting for you and your pup. While you can’t expect your dog to know everything about what’s to come, by preparing early and letting your baby and your dog meet each other gradually, you can set both of them up for a healthy relationship.
The six tips we’ve given above will help ensure that when you introduce your dog to a new baby everything will go smoothly!
Here is a bonus video from Zak George with some extra tips ?
What has been your experience with your dog and babies? Did we miss any tips? Let us know in the comments ?