How to introduce your dog to your new baby
Your dog will know something’s going on as soon as you’re pregnant. Repainting that spare bedroom, moving in new furniture – or even making the decision to sell your house fast – and they’ll know things are changing.
But just because your pooch has figured out that there’s new emotions in the air doesn’t mean they’ll understand what those feelings mean, and it might unsettle even the calmest dog. Take this steps to make sure your furry friend is as ready for your new arrival as you are.
Now is the time to get any behaviour kinks ironed out. You’ve got nine months to work through any issues or bad habits so start working on them right away. If you need to, hire a professional dog trainer. You’ll appreciate it when you have a calm, well-behaved dog as you bring home your baby.
You might love the way your dog crawls onto your lap when they know you’re upset but that awareness of your emotions extends further than you think. Feeling anxious or worried about your new arrival? Your dog will too, so learn how to create a sense of calm that will make them feel safe when the baby comes.
Once you’ve had the baby, send home something that smells like your newborn – a babygro or blanket, for example. Ask your dog to sniff it from a safe distance while you’re holding the item. Don’t let them come to close – this way, you’ll set boundaries for your pooch and stop them getting too near the baby right away.
By restricting how close your dog can come, you’ll be demonstrating that they need to follow your rules around the smell. And it’ll get them used to the new scent before the baby comes home.
Start with the nursery. To begin with, make it off-limits and teach your dog that they’re not allowed to go in there without being invited. Once they’ve understood this rule you can let them explore and sniff under your supervision. Repeat this regularly before the baby arrives.
TAKE IT SLOW
On the day you’re due to introduce you baby to the home, take your dog for a long walk to get them tired out. Make sure your pooch is calm and submissive before you invite them in, as the minute they get that nose through the door, they’ll know there’s a new smell in the house.
Hopefully, this will be a familiar one by now and they won’t react with excitement. Stay calm and let your dog sniff the baby from a safe distance. Gradually, you can bring your pup closer and closer.
TEACH YOUR BABY
As soon as your little one is toddling, they’re going to start pulling, grabbing and falling on your patient pooch. Supervise all interactions between them and start teaching your child not to play rough. A usually calm and loving dog might well react to a sudden yank of the tail, so avoid accidents by teaching them both to play nice from the start.
KEEP UP ROUTINE
Don’t forget about your pooch once your baby comes. It’s essential you keep up a daily routine of walks, cuddles and leadership. PoochPlay can help by reminding you when it’s time for a run around and alerting you that your dog hasn’t had enough exercise today. Keep consistent and your dog will feel secure and relaxed around your baby.
Some breeds have a reputation for being rough around babies, but it’s unfair and unwise to blame their genes alone. All dogs can learn to be loving around a child – the key is in the way you handle the situation and your dog. Don’t assume a Rottweiler will be more aggressive than a spaniel. Invest the time and effort needed for your dog to feel safe and loved and they’ll welcome the baby with open paws.
With time and effort your pooch will soon love your new baby as much as you do. Just lay the groundwork now and you should have nothing to fear.