If you’re expecting a baby, your dog must have already sensed that something is going on. However, this doesn’t mean that he won’t be overwhelmed when you bring the new family member home. The house will be filled with new smells and sounds, and your daily routine will change drastically, which can be confusing for your pet.
And did you know that dogs can feel jealous? If your pet is used to being the center of attention, he may feel angry or frustrated, acting more aggressively than before. To prevent this and help your dog become friends with the baby, take a look at these tips on introducing your baby to your pet.
And if you’re not yet expecting but plan on getting a dog first – make sure to do your homework. Learn, what are the healthiest dog breeds, so you won’t have to go through additional trouble when the baby comes, and check what species are the best for families with babies. Just remember – before getting a dog, always make sure that you’ll have enough time to take care of him. And when you bring the baby home, don’t forget about your pet.
How To Introduce Your Baby to Your Dog
Teach Your Dog Important Skills
Even the best-behaving pets can freak out when you bring the baby home. Make sure your dog knows the most important commands, like “sit,” “stay,” “drop it,” or “lie down.” Get rid of disobedience and dangerous behavior, like jumping up to greet you at the door – a dog trainer can help correct this.
To make your life easier, teach you pet new helpful commands, like “go away.” This way, you’ll be able to control his actions – for example, when a baby is sleeping, and you’re afraid the dog may wake it up. Your pet can also be uncomfortable with the baby crawling towards him, and this command will help him understand that he can simply move away.
Also, to make the dog get along with the baby, you can teach him how to play fetch with a toy. This way, your pet will be prepared for a safe interaction with a newborn, which he’ll see as a fun game.
Prepare the Dog For Lifestyle Changes
When the baby comes home, you probably won’t have as much time for your pet as before. Try to adjust your dog’s lifestyle gradually so that it won’t be stressed later. If you’re planning on changing your walking hours, change them now, and if your dog has a strict schedule, make him used to a less consistent lifestyle. Try varying the feeding and walking hours: for example, if you usually walk with your pet at 7 am, try adjusting it to around 6-9 am.
If you want your dog to stick to regular walking and feeding hours, get some help: purchase an automatic feeder or hire a dog walker. In the latter case, help the dog get used to a new person: choose the dog walker now, so he can take your pet on occasional walks. This way, you won’t have to do everything by yourself, and unpredictable life with a baby won’t interfere with the dog’s lifestyle.
Also, decide if you want to allow the dog into the nursery. If the baby’s room is off-limits, teach your dog to stay by the door when you enter, and if the dog is allowed in the room, create some boundaries. For example, place a dog’s bed in the baby’s room or make him a spot he’ll get used to – so if you want him out of your way, the dog will be able to settle near you.
Introducing your Dog to the New Family Member
Before bringing the baby home, introduce your dog to a new smell. Have somebody take home your baby’s blanket or bodysuit and let your dog sniff it – this way when the baby arrives, your pet will recognize the strange new smell.
When coming home, greet the dog without the baby – he misses you and will probably be excited. Later, when he’s chilled down, sit down and take the baby into your arms. Talk to the dog in a calm voice, make sure he’s relaxed and let him sniff the baby to get acquainted.
When nursing, ask a helper to keep the dog tranquil – give him small, tasty treats and pet him. Remember to use the commands politely and don’t yell at the dog. Praise him whenever he stays calm near the baby and play with him when you have time – don’t let your pet feel abandoned.
Daily life with the baby and the dog may not be as easy as with just one of them, but if your pet is well-behaved, it won’t be so hard. Make sure to give attention to the baby and the dog, and teach them to respect each other. And if you’re ever tired, don’t hesitate to ask for help. It’s your family – you need to feel comfortable there.