Bringing a baby home is an exciting time for any parent – but the new arrival can be unsettling and overwhelming for your dog, especially if you are new to introducing baby to dog.
Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to make the first introductions go more smoothly. Let’s go through how to introduce baby to dog with our curated tips below.
1. Start Preparing Your Dog Early
If your dog doesn’t have any experience with babies, it’s important to start creating positive associations long before the birth to ease introducing baby to dog. The best way to do this is to practice safe and calm interactions with babies and young children.
Of course, it’s not always easy to find a baby to practice with to learn how to introduce a dog to a baby – not many parents want their child to be used as a “trial run” for a dog! The good news is that you don’t need your dog to actually meet the baby – just being near to the child and able to see them is enough.
As discussed by The Dog Clinic, the key is to make these experiences positive and enjoyable for your pet when learning how to introduce dogs to baby. Praise them when they see a baby, give them a treat for calm behaviour, and build-up interactions slowly to avoid your pet becoming overwhelmed.
Tip: You can also play baby noises (such as crying) on a low volume to get your dog used to them, which is a good way to introducing dog to baby.
2. Find a Trustworthy Dog Sitter
Bringing home a baby is a wonderful feeling, but it’s also exhausting. It follows that there are probably going to be times during the first few weeks when you’re too tired to give your pet the attention they need.
Aside from being unfair on your dog, a lack of mental stimulation or exercise can lead to frustration and behavioural issues. This can cause added stress at a time when you’ll already have a lot to think about while you attempt how to introduce your dog to a new baby.
One way to solve this issue is to find a trustworthy dog sitter who can take your pet on walks or occasional home visits. The best option is often a friend or family member, but you can also look for professional dog walkers.
Just make sure that your pet already has a strong bond with this person before your baby is born.
3. Use a Doll to Get Your Dog Accustomed to Baby Interactions
One of the best ways to get your dog used to the idea of a baby in the home is by interacting with a doll. Practice carrying the baby around the home, talking to it, pushing it in a baby stroller or pram, and placing it in a cot.
Your dog won’t be fooled into thinking the baby is a real human, as a canine’s sense of smell is difficult to trick. But getting your dog used to all of these activities before you bring your baby home can make the transition much easier and improve good dog behavior with new baby.
Practicing talking to a doll also helps your pet to understand that nothing exciting is happening when you start cooing or using “baby speak.” The tone is similar to how many people interact with their dogs, which can be confusing for your pet.
4. Prepare Dog Care For The Birth
It’s important to get pet care sorted at least a few weeks before your due date. Ideally, this would be a friend or family member who you can wake up in the middle of the night, if necessary, although a professional sitter could also work to help you out on how to prepare your dog for a baby.
It’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit ready for your dog. This could include enough food for several days, toys, bedding and anything else the dog sitter might need.
Additionally, it’s worth lining up a backup option just in case your first choice isn’t available when you need them.
5. Make the First Introduction a Calm and Positive Experience
You’re naturally going to be exhausted and overwhelmed when you return home, so try to plan the first introduction in advance. Keep in mind that this will be a long and ongoing process – you shouldn’t expect your dog to be comfortable with your baby on the first day (or even the first week).
One of the best ways to make the introduction go smoothly is to get your pet accustomed to the baby’s scent before you arrive. If possible, ask a family member to take home one of your baby’s blankets or items of clothing, then leave it on the floor for the dog to sniff. Get them to give the dog treats and praise when they sniff the item, to start developing positive associations.
When you arrive home, try to keep everything as calm as possible. You may want to greet your dog without the baby in your arms, so you can say hello properly without a risk of the baby being accidentally injured by your excited pet.
So how to introduce dog to newborn? Don’t let your dog say hello to the new baby immediately – let them get used to the baby’s scent, noises, and presence for a while first.
Once everything has calmed down, start introducing them in small steps. How to introduce new baby to your dog? For example, you could allow the dog to sniff your new baby while you hold them for a few seconds, then follow up with a treat. However, as a safety measure, you should only let your dog sniff the baby’s feet – not the face.
Over time, your dog will become more comfortable and relaxed around your baby. Don’t rush the process though!
6. Keep Your Baby And Dog Safe
Even if your dog seems happy and gentle around your baby, you should never leave them unattended. You should also try to keep any encounters calm and controlled.
Additionally, make sure your dog always has space to move away. This isn’t likely to be an issue with a new born, but it can become more difficult when the child starts to crawl.
Never let children go into your dog’s crate or sleep on his bed, for example, as these need to be a sanctuary. As your child gets older, it’s also important to supervise them at all times around your pet to make sure they are both safe.