How to Introduce Your Newborn and Your Dog
If you're planning on expanding your family soon or have a little one on the way, you may or may not have thought about how your “fur baby” will handle the new addition. The best method for introducing dogs to newborns is to plan for success, starting as soon as possible. Your dog may be sweet as pie to you, but a new baby is not only going dramatically change your lives, but also the life of your dog. He or she will soon have to share your attention and devotion with this new person who doesn’t smell, sound, or look like you. Most likely, if you’re already pregnant, your dog knows that something is already going on, based on your own anticipation and excitement about your pregnancy. You’ll want to start acclimating your dog to life with a new child before the child arrives. Even after the baby arrives, you’ll still need to help your dog adjust.
Before the Baby Arrives
If your dog hasn’t gone to obedience school yet, or hasn’t been back in a long time, it may be a good time to enroll him as soon as possible. Behaviors that you may find cute and adorable, like jumping on your lap, may become harmful if you’re carrying a baby.
Time for Some Real Life Exposure
While you’re expecting, you should take him to a park where children play. Look at how your dog reacts to babies from a safe distance. If you have any friends who have babies, go for a walk with them—first behind them and then alongside them.
Let’s PretendYour dog needs to know what the new routine will be like before your baby arrives.
- Use a baby doll and pretend how you will be like with the baby months before your real baby arrives. Put the baby doll in a swing, the crib, the carrier, and so on.
- A few weeks before the baby comes, start to decrease your playtime with your dog. That goes for your walks as well.
- Play baby sounds from a recording so your dog can acclimate to the sound. You can play them for longer and longer periods as your due date approaches.
- Before introducing dogs to newborns, introduce them to baby smells, such as baby powder and baby lotion. Since your dog explores his world through his nose, this will be a great way to train your dog to get used to a baby’s smell before the baby arrives.
Plan for When You’ll Be Away
You and your spouse will most likely be away at least for a couple of days when the baby arrives. Find friends, family, or a dog sitter that can take care of your dog— especially if labor starts in the middle of the night. Make sure food servings are already portioned and ready for your dog carer. Have your vet’s number and other emergency numbers handy and the dog’s leash in plain sight. Even after the baby arrives, you may be still be trying to adjust to your new schedule as parents of a newborn. Those friends and family or your dog sitter may be able to pitch in, or you can consider taking your dog to a day care. Leave lots of goodies, treats, and toys for your dog so he doesn’t become too anxious when you’re gone.
While You’re Away
Let Him Follow His Nose
Before introducing dogs to newborns, make sure to have one of your family members or friends bring back a onesie or blanket from the hospital that your baby has worn so that your dog can become accustomed to the smell. By the time the baby comes, your dog will already be familiar with their smell and will be less likely to become upset, anxious, or angry.
When You Return
Prepare for a Joyful Reunion—and a Gentle First Meeting
Your dog will be elated to see you again. Greet your dog by yourself, without the baby first. Let the joy and excitement unfold. Then when your dog is calmer, you can sit with the dog and your baby, inviting your dog to sniff the baby. If your dog isn’t into it at first, that’s OK. You’ll have to have the dog on a leash as this happens because although at this point, you have done a great job of preparing him for the baby, it’s always best to be safe. Reward your dog with treats when he sniffs. After a few days of on leash meet and greet time between dogs and newborn babies, you can allow your dog to sniff your baby off leash. The baby should be elevated, just in case the baby does something unexpected like cry or yell. Always keep an adult between dogs and newborn babies.
Dogs and Newborn Babies Living Together Peacefully
Housebreaking Regression May Occur
Even after all this preparation and practice with having a new baby in your home, your housebroken dog may start regressing or acting out to get your attention. Your pet may, believe it or not, react to the smell of a dirty diaper and have accidents. In this case, a dog potty solution will come in handy. One product we recommend is Bark Potty. It's made from real bark and like real grass, contains the natural smells to compel dogs to "go". So even when you're dog is going potty indoors, it will feel like they're going outside to them. Having an indoor potty solution may make your life easier, considering your time for walks and potty breaks will be taken up by the new baby
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
As your dog becomes more and more comfortable with your baby, your baby will also become more and more comfortable with your dog, exploring their new home. This may mean exploring your dog’s food and water bowls, so keep those on the counter away from your crawling baby’s exploring adventures. You can also keep some places of your home out of reach for your dog with safety gates. Eventually, dogs and newborn babies can become good, long friends when your dog knows what to expect from your baby.