Bringing your new baby home from the hospital is such an exciting time. You spend months and months preparing for that moment throughout your pregnancy and when it’s finally here it is just amazing. Introducing your dog to your newborn can be scary because you won’t really know how they are going to react until the moment arrives.
Unfortunately this truly exciting moment for you can be a actually a terrifying moment for your dog. Think about it like this, your dog will recognize that your baby smells like a human and that you are comfortable with him or her but it won’t really understand what your baby is.
To your dog, your newborn baby is actually a stranger in their household. This stranger is also taking away their time with their human.
Don’t worry though by planning ahead and taking the first steps before and after you bring your baby home, you can help create that special bond between your for baby and your newborn.
There are so many other ways to prepare your home for your baby before their arrival make sure you don’t forget to do these other things!
How to prepare your dog for the big introduction of your newborn
Teacher dog basic obedience
This seems like such a simple step but it is so important to make sure your dog understands basic commands such as sit, down, come and stay. This is really important to maintain the safety of your child.
For example, if your dog tries to steal food, this could be a biting risk in the future to your little one. Teaching your dog basic commands can allow you to have your pup stop the behavior and then sit and stay until meal time is over.
Plus you can be sure that your dog is ready to listen to you before your baby comes home. A basic obedience class or training can help you nip any issues before they get out of control. Let’s be honest, adding a newborn into the mix wont make training a dog easier.
make gradual changes to your dogs routine
There are certain things about your dogs routine that might have to change in order to adapt to your newborns arrival. For example if your dog is sleeping in your room it might be time to think about moving them out if that is the only spot that you can place the bassinet for your baby to sleep in.
Making these changes before baby comes home home will ensure that your dog doesn’t associate any negativity with your baby. These changes might be simple such as reducing the number of walks in anticipation that you will not have as much time when your baby arrives. Or changing the location of their feeding dishes.
Helping your dog deal with these changes before your baby will ensure that they are used to the changes. That way when you also add in your sweet bundle of joy it doesn’t become to overwhelming for them.
Reduce the amount of time and affection given to your dog
This sounds awful, I know, bare with me here. No one wants to reduce how much time they spend with her dog. After all they are a part of your family and very special to you.
But the unfortunate reality of a newborn is that they will take up quite a bit of your time. Getting your dog used to spending less time with you will make a big difference once your baby is here. I am not saying to ignore your dog, but if you are together one on one 99% of the time you are home, you will need to make some changes.
Is it still important to ensure that your dog has some alone time with you even after baby arrives. Try and find a special moment every single day that you will dedicate to your dog even after the arrival of your baby. This might look like some evening cuddles on the couch. Or a quick game of fetch. Whatever this is make sure to stick to it once baby comes.
This small gesture will make sure your dog still feels he is getting attention and is a part of the family even with a newborn thrown in the mix.
Acclimatize your dog to all things baby
Get all the baby stuff set up early. This includes the nursery, swing, bouncers, play pens, etc., any new items you plan to use. Then put those things into action! Turn on music on the mobile, turn on the swing, bring out the breastfeeding pillow. Then let your dog be around.
This will help your dog get familiar with the items you will be using before your baby comes home so they don’t get scared when they are in use. We did this with our dog and he had no reaction to the swing by the time our daughter came home when he was previously terrified of it.
Also allow your dog to get used to the sounds that babies make. You can do this by playing recordings of babies crying, laughing, cooing etc., this way when your baby makes sounds your dog won’t be surprised by the noise in the house because you have given them time to get used to it.
How to introduce your dog to your newborn baby
Once you arrive home it is very important that you carefully introduce your dog to your newborn baby.
Although your dog is your family member, you have to remember that your baby is a stranger to your dog. This could mean that your dog is frightened jealous or nervous to meet your baby. You even have to be careful with a happy dog because they could accidentally jump up and hurt your baby.
Don’t worry there are some easy strategies you can implement to safely introduce your dog to your newborn once you arrive home.
greet your dog first
As soon as you arrive home greet your dog without bringing your baby in. Do whatever you usually do when you arrive home from being out. This will give your dog a sense of normalcy. It will also allow them to get out any excitement that they may have allowing them to calm down before you bring in the baby.
cautiously bring your newborn into your home
When you first bring a baby into your home it is good to do so with caution. You never really know how your dog will react to the site of your baby so it is best to be safe rather than sorry.
A good way to do this is to keep your baby in the car seat while having your dog controlled on a leash. This will allow you to control the situation while ensuring that your dog can interact safely with your baby. If your dog gets too upset or overly excited, it will be easy for you to move your dog as they are on a leash already.
Keeping your baby in the car seat will allow your dog to smell your baby without getting too close to him or her.
Be sure to pet your dog and give him praise while he sniffs his new best friend. Most dogs will adapt easily but since you are not sure how they will react, it is good to take these precautions.
Take your time and allow your dog to get adjusted to your baby’s presence, smell and sound for a few days before introducing them in a closer proximity. This will allow your dog to familiarize themselves with the presence of your baby without becoming overwhelmed.
By taking this approach, you will have a sense of what your dog is like with your baby. You should be able to identify if they are nervous, calm, happy, sad, or even if they just ignore your baby.
This will help prevent any surprises in behavior when you finally do make a closer introduction.
give your dog lots of attention and praise while your baby is around
I know I just had you prepare your dog to get less affection prior to bringing your baby home and now I am telling you to give them lots of affection. The idea here though is to make sure that your dog knows that they are still important members of the family.\
You do not want your dog to feel that they only get attention or love when the baby isn’t around. This could make them feel that good things only happen when the baby isn’t around. Consequently that could lead to your dog building negative associations with your child being around.
Don’t scold your dog for taking the babies toys or items
While your dog is getting used to your baby being around, try not to scold them if they accidentally or purposefully try and chew on some of the babies toys, stuffed animals or other belongings. It is important that your dog can explore these items to get familiar with them. This way your dog isn’t afraid of them.
Obviously you don’t want all the very expensive baby items that you have purchased to get destroyed by your dog. Rather than scolding them, simply replace your babies toy with your dogs toy. After your dog has had some time to adjust you can begin with your normal routine of how you train your dog not to chew other items in your home.
This is another way that we are trying to avoid a negative association with the baby. If every time your dog took a babies toy or went into your babies room etc. and you scolded them, they would have difficulty understanding that the baby is a good thing.
We don’t want to train your dog to think that every time they are around baby toys or items they get in trouble. This could lead to aggression or jealousy issues with your dog and your baby.
Create a safe space for your dog
Create somewhere in your home where your dog can escape when the activity is too much for them. You should make sure that your child is not allowed to go into the dogs safe place. This could be a dog bed, a crate, or a different room. Anywhere your dog can go to escape and cool off if they have need some time away.
A new child is a big adjustment for your pet so it is important to give them a to regroup and destress. Remember your dog had no say on this little human coming into their home. All these changes can be quite scary for them so it is important to make sure that they feel safe and taken care of while they adjust.
Never leave your child alone with the dog!
There is no way to be 100% sure that your dog will be fine around a baby. The last thing you want to do is accidentally put them in harms way.
Please remember that even though they are your family member when it comes down to it, your dog is still an animal. They have natural instincts that could take over if they are put into a situation where they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Even a dog getting too excited could be a potential safety hazard for your child.
Please always monitor any interactions between your baby and your dog.
There you have it, simple strategies you can use to introduce your dog to your baby
What other tips do you have for introducing a newborn to your dog? I would love to hear about it in the comments!