How to Introduce Your Baby and Your Dog

Posted by in No-Cry Parenting

Introducing a brand new baby to your current furry baby is something that you will want to plan and prepare for ahead of time. This post includes a few tips to create a successful beginning to a valuable lifelong friendship.

Think ahead

Planning ahead is crucial whenever you are expecting a large transition in your home. You’ll want to prepare your pet as much as possible before you bring your baby home. Here are some things you can do in advance of your baby’s arrival:

  • Allow your dog to explore the baby’s room. Let them sniff the clothes and toys and adjust to the new area and objects.
  • Expose your dog to children and especially babies. Family or friends might be happy to have you help with this, or you can take your dog to the park where they will be plenty of children. Your dog will need to get familiar with the actions, sounds, and scents of children. If your dog has not been around children use extreme caution to start, keeping your dog fully controlled with an appropriate collar and leash and have two adults fully present – one assigned to the dog, and one assigned to the child. Lessen the controls only after you’ve had enough experience to be confident that your dog is fine with children.
  • Deal with the difficulties of transitioning your dog from your bed now before the baby arrives. If your dog is used to sleeping with you, move him out whether or not you plan on having your baby sleep with you. A pet nuzzling up to a tiny baby could cause a serious accident. Even if you don’t plan on having your baby in bed with you, plans change, and it is better to be prepared. You can always move your dog back into your bed later.
  • Your daily schedule will change once the baby arrives. Anticipate those changes and try to help your dog adjust to the new schedule well before the baby arrives.
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  • If you have any concerns about your dog’s behavior, now is the time to take him to a trainer. You will want to be sure that your dog complies with commands like “No,” “Off,” and “Down.”  These directions will be important once the new baby comes home.
  • You might want to smother your dog with affection before the new baby comes, but you will actually want to start to tone things down before the baby arrives. No matter how much you love your dog, your new baby will take up a lot of your time and energy; and it will help everyone adjust better if you start reducing the amount of time and attention your dog receives now.
  • While you and the new baby are still in the hospital, have someone bring home a few of the baby’s clothes or even a wet diaper. This way your dog can used to the smell of the baby before that first introduction
  • Keep the size, weight and age of your dog in mind. There is a big difference between how you’ll work with a puppy versus an adult dog, and your approach will change if you have a 5-pound Chihuahua versus a 100-pound German Shepherd. 
  • Work with a professional if you have even the slightest concern. Once mistake can injure either the baby or your dog, so err on the side of safety first.

Bringing Baby Home

When you’re ready to bring your baby into the house for the first time, a few tips can help make a smooth introduction:

  • When you walk through the door for the first time, have someone else carry the baby into the room. Your dog may be inclined to jump on you when you enter the house, and you don’t want to worry about the baby and be scolding your pet on their first meeting.
  • Be ready with treats and plenty of praise for your dog when he is meeting your baby for the first time. You want that first contact to be a positive experience for everyone.

Establish New Routines

  • Encourage your dog to protect the baby by praising him every time he is gentle around the baby.
  • Begin getting your dog ready for the toddler stage. Your dog may growl or show possessive signs about his food or toys, but you want to discourage this behavior. Pretty soon your baby will be crawling around, playing with the dog’s toys, and moving his food. Practice taking away your dog’s food dish, bone, or toy when he’s eating or playing; and then discourage any negative responses. Teach him to sit patiently and wait, and then give his items back with praise. You will also want to get into the habit of putting the dog’s food and water in place where the baby can’t get to them.
  • A daily walk is a great habit to get into. The baby will love a walk outside in the sling or stroller, the dog will love the walk, and it is great exercise for you as well.
  • Your dog needs to know where he stands in the “pack” of the family, and it is important that he understands that his position is lower than the baby. Eventually he may become your baby’s protector and favorite playmate.
  • No matter what training you have done, or how your dog has acted in the past, animals can be unpredictable. You need to be especially careful around the baby because an unintentional scratch, nibble, or jump could cause serious harm to an infant. Never, ever leave your dog alone with your baby.

These tips are from The No-Cry Solution books

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