Dogs are pretty intuitive. After nine months of pregnancy, they will already know that something is up. Bringing a new baby home from the hospital can still be a difficult adjustment for your pup. While some dogs get a bad rep for biting babies, your pup’s breed shouldn’t enter into your concerns. All sizes and kinds of dogs have been known to attack babies. But, if you control the situation and take some careful steps then having a dog and a baby will be an extremely rewarding experience.
Here are a few tips on how to make this amazing and exciting transition in your life go as smoothly as possible.
1. Make the nursery out of bounds (just at first).
While you’re preparing for your new baby to arrive and you begin to set up the nursery, make that room out of bounds. Starting this training as early as possible will ensure that when baby arrives and that room becomes a hub of excitement, your dog will understand that there is an invisible fence there that they may not cross.
As your dog gets more accustom to your new family member, allow them into the room to sniff. Just ensure you enforce boundaries. For example, baby’s squishy, soft toys are not for puppies.
2. Bring something with baby’s scent home before the baby.
Once the baby is born but has yet to come home from the hospital, bring a blanket or a piece of clothing that has their scent on it into your home. Tell your dog to sit and stay on one side of the room and let them sniff the air from a distance to get the baby’s scent. Then allow them to slowly come closer to smell the item you brought home. This important step is starting to establish the baby as one of the leaders of the house.
3. Tire out your pup before the first meeting.
When the day finally comes that baby is coming home from the hospital, take your pup for a nice long walk or a run in the dog park. Make sure that they are good and worn out before you head home to meet the baby who has arrived while you were out. Before you head into the house, give your partner a heads up that you’re on your way and make your dog sit at door before you head inside. This will again establish your control of the situation. It says to your dog that you’re in charge.
4. Take control of the first meeting.
Once you go inside, it’s very important that everyone in the room remains very calm. Keep your dog’s leash on and ask them to sit on the opposite side of the room from baby, while you hold onto them. Once your dog enters the house, they will smell the scent they smelled the day before on the blanket or toy, so it should be familiar to them already.
Let your pup sniff the air with the baby in the house. Slowly let your dog a bit closer to the baby. The dog should be allowed to sniff the baby, but at a comfortable and respectable distance. If everything goes smoothly at this point, you can take the leash off. Just keep an eye on the dog and don’t let them within licking distance of the baby until you’re 100% comfortable.
5. Teach baby as they grow.
As your child grows, make sure you teach them that your dog is a part of your family and that they deserve respect as well. Teaching your child to be gentle with your dog, especially when they are a toddler, will help them understand animals in general better.
For a child, having a pet is an amazing experience and they should be given the opportunity to bond as they both grow older.
When you first find out you’re going to become parents, if you’re not 100% comfortable bringing a new baby into your home, we definitely recommend working with a professional.
Always remember that while your pup is a part of your family, your child’s safety is your number one priority.