The excitement of bringing home a new baby may not translate to your dog. Instead, it may cause your dog to be confused or even frightened. But planning ahead and taking the right steps before your baby’s homecoming can help create a bond between your new addition and your dog. Here are a few things to help your dog adjust to the new arrival.
Make changes gradually. If aspects of your dog’s usual routine, like where she sleeps or when she gets walks, are going to change when the baby arrives, it is best to gradually adjust the routine before you bring home the baby so that the dog will not associate the changes with the baby.
Allow for a sniffing acquaintance. After your child is born, bring an article of the baby’s clothing or a baby blanket home so the dog can get used to the infant’s scent before he/she arrives.
Make a not-so-joyful noise. If your dog is sound-sensitive and you think she may be nervous when the baby cries, you can expose her to a recording of crying baby sounds. Start with quieter cries, then gradually increase the sound until your dog is a pro at listening to a fussing baby.
Dog, meet swing. The baby will have swings, seats and toys. Sooner, rather than later, show the dog the new items so that she has seen the swing move before there’s a baby in it. Make sure to teach her “leave it” before the baby comes home.
Dog, meet baby. Your pup will be curious and possibly anxious to meet the new member of the family. To make sure she doesn’t jump on you when you come home from the hospital with the new baby, greet the dog without the baby. When the dog calms down, slowly and carefully introduce her to the baby. Be sure to praise your dog for being calm and well-behaved.
Share the attention. Dogs can feel left out when a new baby is introduced into the family. Be sure to give your dog plenty of attention when the baby is around as well as when he or she is not. Also, make sure your four-legged friend still gets daily exercise and play sessions. Exercise is an outlet for your dog’s energy, and this is extremely important for having a calm, mellow dog that doesn’t act out.
Supervise, supervise, supervise. To protect both parties, dogs and babies should always be supervised when together. This applies to when the babies are infants up until they are at least preschoolers. Once your baby begins to crawl, make sure that he/she doesn’t tug on the dog’s tail or ears. Snapping and growling are natural canine behaviors when they are trying to communicate a warning.
And, remember, even the most tolerant dog has its limits.