For many couples, a dog is their first “baby”, the centre of attention and the centre of their world. So, needless to say, it will be a big change for their spoilt little fur-baby when a new baby arrives in the family home.
The arrival of a baby is one of the most exciting times in any home, and as friends and relations call round to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ into the cot, it’s important to ensure that the big guy with the tail still feels part of the family. Therefore you should prepare your dog for the change in routine that’s coming, and all the new sights, sounds and smells that baby will bring.
Most family dogs react very well to a new baby in the home though so you shouldn’t worry unduly and with a few simple steps you can help ensure that your pet won’t be left feeling unsettled or anxious. Life will be hectic and stressful once baby arrives, but with a little forward planning you can get your pet ready for the changes that lie ahead!
Preparation is Key
A good place to start is to brush up on your dogs obedience skills. The old reliables of “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “bed” and “leave it” are invaluable tools. Also work on leash walking skills, especially “heel”. It may be an idea to sign up to a training class if they are offered in your area, but nothing beats perseverance. Dog Trainers aren’t a magic bullet but they will help give you the skills needed to train your own pet.
It’s a great idea to set up some nursery products so that your dog gets used to a baby being in the house. Let your dog investigate everything the way he does best – by having a good old sniff! Best to ensure though that this is done under supervision or baby may be sitting down to their first meal in a chewed high chair or sleeping in a three sided wicker basket!!
Above all however develop a routine, Dogs just love routine. It helps them feel safe and secure and cements their role within the pack. So before the baby arrives start to think about some of the changes that might occur to your dogs world – and start to introduce them now. Establish a feeding and exercise schedule that will be realistic with your new life and with your new responsibilities.
Finally before bringing baby home try and get your dog used to baby sounds and smells. Where possible introduce them to other babies and let them see you holding the babies of friends and relatives. The more you can socialise your dog the better for everyone.
The Home Coming
There’s no reason why the first encounter shouldn’t be a positive experience. A great little tip is to send home an article of clothing from the hospital that carries the baby’s scent. This should help your dog recognise the baby when they come home.
On arrival, let your dog greet you first before meeting the baby and greet them in the same manner you always do. Then allow the dog to see, sniff and greet the baby. Speak calmly and softly but cheerfully to your dog and give them loads of treats as they’re exploring. This will help your dog associate the new addition with only good things.
Life with Dog and Baby
Inevitably with a new baby, things will get hectic around the home and its vital that you provide a quiet and safe place for your dog to go. Crates are excellent for this and will give your dog the security and quiet time they need now and throughout their life.
Keep some dog treats close to hand. Give treats and praise when your dog is calm and well-behaved when the baby is near-by. This will teach your dog that having the baby around means good things happen. All good behavior should be rewarded and praised.
No matter how well your dog is trained or how much work you have put in NEVER leave them unsupervised with a baby, not even for a second. This includes all dogs even those with an excellent temperament whom have never shown any signs of aggression. We have all been reminded lately of just how quick tragedy can happen
Undoubtedly, a new baby and a pet will make for some seriously big adjustments in any home, but with proper training, preparation and lots of treats, daily life will settle down as your new routine develops . Growing up alongside a pet can really benefit children’s health and happiness. Caring for a pet can also make children more responsible, empathetic and kind. So make the small tweaks necessary for your new situation and try not to worry – enjoy this time!.
There are a number of great resources and articles on line to help ease any anxieties you may have so do your research!.
We’ve posted some great links below that are well worth a minute of your time: https://www.parents.com/parenting/pets/babies/how-to-introduce-dogs-and-babies/
Finally remember, Dogs are a pack animal, and Dogs care for their pack – you’re bringing a new pack member home, and your dog will respect that member as part of the group.