So you are welcoming that little bundle of joy to your family? Congratulations!
Worried about how your dog would react to the newborn? Bringing home the baby means an overwhelming onslaught of sights, sounds and smells for your dog. From an altered daily routine to less time and attention, it may be a difficult time for your dog, especially if she’s been the “only child” until now.
Tired of opinions from people (who have themselves never kept a pet) on how it may be unsafe or unhygienic to have a dog around the infant?
Let all such worries to rest – Scientists have established that kids who grow up with dogs have a sound defence mechanism to allergies and asthma.
This blog post explores how to introduce your dog to the baby.
How to introduce your dog to the baby
The earlier you begin preparing your dog for the new arrival, the better! We recommend beginning training during the pregnancy itself so that there’s enough time for you to welcome your newborn home to a calm, well-behaved dog. Learn the body language of your dog to understand how he communicates.
1. Accustom your pet to baby-related noises. Play recordings of the baby sound to help your dog get used to them. Similarly, you may put baby powder/oil on your skin to familiarize your pet with the new smells.
2. Use a baby doll to help your pet get used to a baby. Carry around a swaddled baby doll, take the doll in the stroller when you walk your dog, and use the doll to get your pet used to routine baby activities, such as bathing and diaper changing.
3. Use a toy – teddy bear or doll that moves and makes noise to prepare your dog for the newborn. Don’t forget to reward your dog for being calm around the toy.
4. Try to give your dog longer periods of undivided attention via exercises rather than short bursts of attention throughout the day. This will prepare your dog for the inevitable decrease in attention with the baby’s arrival.
5. Know your dog’s sensitivities. Try to get your dog to being touched comfortably in places where small hands can go, like between paw pads, on the face, mouth or tail.
6. Encourage friends with babies to visit your home to accustom your pet to infants and kids.
7. Teach your dog basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘down’.
Once the baby is home…
8. Give time to your dog. A dog does not need toys to feel important; you simply need to maintain the exercising routine and help your dog feel secure and allow her to relax about the new addition to the family.
9. Help your dog learn that the baby belongs in your family by exposing the dog to the baby in a very gradual and controlled manner. Some experts suggest that you take your dog on a long walk before the introduction to drain him of his energy into a calm state.
You may keep the dog on a leash just for the introduction.
10. If you have more than one dog or pets, introduce them to the baby one at a time.
11. Give attention to your dog when your baby is awake, not asleep so that the dog doesn’t get the learning that he gets no attention when the baby is awake. Instead associate positive consequences with baby’s presence, treats anyone?
12. Never punish or scold the dog in the presence of the baby. You want all associations with the baby to be positive in the dog’s mind.
13. Spay or neuter your pet. Not only do sterilized pets typically have fewer health problems associated with their reproductive systems, but they are also calmer and less likely to bite.
Fostering new relationships is a two way street. It is equally essential as a new parent for you to teach your child to respect your dog. As your child matures, teach him to respect your dog’s body, safe zones and belongings. Always supervise interactions so that you can guide your child as he learns to communicate and play with your dog appropriately.
Most dogs happily welcome new additions to the family so you please don’t worry excessively about the potential problem of your dog injuring your infant. Just follow the tips above and see your newborn and the dog become the best of buddies!
Got any other tips on introducing pets to the baby? Please let us know in the comments below.