How to Introduce Your Dog to Your Newborn

How to Introduce Your Dog to Your Newborn

Having a baby can be an exciting time for everyone in the family.  But there’s one little guy that might feel befuddled by the whole event of your baby’s arrival — your dog. 

In this post, we’ve covered everything you need to do (and know) to successfully introduce your dog to your new-born. 

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Questions New Parents With Dogs Ask

If you’re new to parenthood, and also a dog parent, you may have some questions about how both your babies can coexist. In this section, we’ll answer some of the questions that might be plaguing your mind. 

Is it OK to have dogs around new-borns?

Yes, but you have to be present to monitor everything. Remember, your dog is not yet familiar with the new addition, and knowing they’re no longer the sole focus of your attention can get them jealous. As a result, your dog can show some unruly behaviours towards the baby. This is why your presence is important. 

How long does it take for a dog to adjust to a new baby?

No one can say for sure how long it’ll take for your dog to become comfortable with the presence of your new baby. It might take a few days for some dogs, and even longer for others. However, you might be able to tell when they’ve adjusted through their behaviours. For example, when the dog gets accustomed to your baby’s sounds or movement, they don’t show excitement or nervousness when it happens. 

Can dogs get along with babies?

Yes, most dogs get along really well with babies and children in general. They can be very gentle with babies. Some have even been reported to have become highly protective of the baby. Although, you should always err on the side of caution and be there with your baby whenever your dog is around. 

Do dogs accept new-born's into the family?

Based on the testimonies of many dog parents, we can conclude that dogs and kids are highly compatible. It may take some time for the bond to form, but it’s very possible. You just have to train your dog for it and give it time to adjust and be comfortable. 

Preparing Your Dog for Your New-born — Start Early

Expecting parents are advised to start preparing their dog for the arrival of a new-born early. This way, it’ll be easier and quicker for the dog to adjust. 

Here’s how to get started: 

  • When you discover you’re pregnant 

  • At this point, there are two things you should do. Firstly, register your dog with an instructor for obedience training. Some dog behaviours (like greeting you by excitedly jumping) could endanger you in the later stages of pregnancy or your newborn when they’re in your arms.  Obedience class will correct those innocent but harmful behaviours. 

    Secondly, start getting your dog familiar with infants. Take your dog to the park and observe how they react to the unpredictable things babies do. Do this frequently, and over time, being around children will get them accustomed to the sound and sight of these little humans. 

  • 3 months before the baby is expected 

  • Start showing your dog how things will be in the house after your baby’s arrival. To do this, get a doll and treat it like you'd treat a new baby. The idea is to get your dog to adjust to the imminent routine shift. 

    Also, walk the dog alongside your baby’s stroller with the doll in it. The essence of this is to let your dog know that there might be a new addition to their routine walks with you. 

    Additionally, you may need to teach your dog new commands. For example, you can use the “back” cue to teach your dog personal space. Train them to back away when they hear the command, and reward them when they obey. Consistently do this until your dog learns to back up on his own and gives the baby space. 

  • A month before D-day 

  • To deliver your baby, you’ll spend at least 24 hours in the hospital. While you’re away, you need people to take turns caring for your dog for the period you’ll be gone. Not just anyone, it has to be sitters or people your dog is comfortable with. 

    Line up several of them so that if any of them has an emergency, you'll have a backup as well as several other backups. Anyone on your list should be someone you can always reach at any time of the day. 

  • 2 weeks before D-day 

  • When you go to the hospital to deliver, you can’t tell how long you’ll be there. So, before it’s time, write down every important detail the caregiver needs to know about your dog. This might include any allergies they have, their favourite games, toys, and so on. Also include the vet’s phone number, in case your dog needs to make a trip to the vet while you’re away. 

    Additionally, keep everything the caregiver needs for your dog in plain sight. This will make caring for your dog easier in your absence. 

  • At the hospital 

  • During the recovery period after giving birth to your baby, have someone take any of your baby’s first clothes to your house to ensure the dog gets familiar with the baby’s peculiar scent. 

    When you do this, when you and your baby finally arrive home from the hospital, the baby smell won’t feel strange to the dog.

  • When you return home 

  • After spending days away from the house, your furry friend would have missed you terribly. He’d be so excited to reunite with you. Return the same enthusiasm; have your partner hold the baby while you walk into the house and greet your pooch with equal excitement. 

    Once your dog is calm, carry your baby and let the dog sniff the familiar scent of the baby to get to know him/her. And that’s how you introduce your babies to each other. 

    Other Important Baby Skills to Teach Your Dog

    There are a few more things you should do to help your dog adjust to your baby’s arrival. These include: 

  • Help them Cope With Less Attention

  • With the arrival of a new baby, if there’s something your dog will contend for, it’s your attention. People are going to come to visit the baby, the baby might cry a lot, and all of these situations will need your attention. 

    If your dog is already used to spending so much time with you, this attention deficit will be an issue. The best way to help them cope is by providing a go-to place for them and helping them get used to that place before the baby’s arrival. Train them to get comfortable spending a long time alone in the designated area.

  • Get Them Familiar With New Smells and Baby Objects

  • Before your baby’s arrival, set up your baby’s crib, swing and other items they’ll be lying in to get the dog familiar with these items. Allow your dogs to explore everything before your baby’s birth, rather than with the baby in it. 

    Dogs thrive in predictability. If they aren’t trained to accept these new changes beforehand, they can start showing some unpleasant behaviours which might upset the new-born. Also introduce your baby’s powder, shampoos, and other distinct baby smells to your dog to make them familiar scents around the house. 

  • Help them Discern Their Toys from the Baby’s

  • Babies toys and dog toys are often similar, so it’ll be easy for your dog to become confused about which is his. You can help them discern which toy is theirs by training them to understand that play only happens when you bring out the toys. 

    For this training, you need to always pack up your dog's toys and bring them out only during play times or reserve play time for the outdoors. Hence, even when they find toys lying freely in the house, they’ll ignore them. For the best results, you should do this before your baby’s arrival. 

  • Get Them Crate-Familiar (Playpen Works Too) 

  • If you need to change your dog’s sleeping arrangement to accommodate your new-born, you should consider a crate or playpen. Even though many people think of a crate as a dog prison, that is hardly true. 

    A crate can be a safe and comfortable space for your dog. But you need to get them familiar with the crate. Then you can make the crate their sleeping/resting area, and a safe space for them to relax when you want the dog to give your baby some space. 

    How to Keep Your Baby Safe Around Your Dog

    Babies are delicate. Their immune system and bones are not as strong as those of adult humans. And with a pet around, you need to ensure the maximum safety of your munchkin. Some of the things you should do include:

  • Stay Up-to-date on Your Dog’s Health

  • Assess the physical health of your dog and ensure they are free from any pain or irritation. Otherwise, they may become aggressive and upset or hurt your baby. Also, conduct regular checks for other conditions that may affect your baby’s health.

  • Keep Hygiene Paramount
  • Treat your dogs regularly for worms and fleas, and always wash your hands with antibacterial soap after tending to your dog. Additionally, ensure you dispose of used baby nappies properly in a sealed lid and empty it regularly because they can be appetizing to your dog.  

  • Always Supervise Dog Around Baby or Toddler 

  • Never leave your baby alone with your dog, regardless of how gentle your dog is. Always be there to monitor everything. You can also use a screen door for the nursery to keep your dog from the baby’s space. 

  • Reward Your Dog for Good Behaviour 

  • Make your baby’s arrival a positive experience for your dog. So, praise them and reward them with dog treats for any good behaviour around your baby. An example is when they remain calm and give you space while you feed the baby or walk calmly alongside the baby during walks.  

  • Seek Counsel from a Pet Behaviour Counsellor If Necessary

  • If your dog fails to adhere to the training and continues to show unruly behaviour towards your baby, isolate them from your baby and seek help from a qualified pet behaviour counsellor immediately. Ensure you contact a professional who has a proven track record of success in this area. 

    Help Your Pup & Baby Become Best Buds 

    As a dog parent expecting a child, you should prepare your dog for the baby’s arrival as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, throughout the pregnancy, and even after the baby is born. Take the dog for strolls in the park, get them in obedience class, and start crate training to help your dog adjust perfectly to the new addition. 

    With the right training, your pup and baby can become best friends. If you’re unable to tame your dog’s behaviour upon your baby’s arrival, seek help from a qualified professional immediately. 

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