How to Safely Introduce Your Dog to Your Newborn
Introducing a dog to your newborn can be intimidating, we are here to help
Bringing home a newborn baby is a whole new adventure for you and your family. There will be so many “firsts” in the years to come and lots of people waiting to meet your little one. But what about your dog meeting the baby for the first time? Introducing your dog to your newborn is a careful process that can start a beautiful lifelong bond. Here are some suggestions on how to navigate this first meeting, making it safe for you, your baby, and your pup.
Adjusting to the Nursery
In the months leading up to your due date, your home will go through a lot of changes. There’s a nursery room to decorate, supplies to be bought, and baby gates to set up. Dogs are very attuned to any changes in their environment and can become overwhelmed or stressed during these times. To reduce stress and anxiety, bring your dog with you while you prepare the nursery. This will get them used to the space and you can begin to train them on how to behave while in the room. You can select a few toys or buy new ones to keep in the nursery so your dog has a comforting relationship with the new area. If you have a seating area in the nursery, spend some quiet time just sitting there with your dog; you can reward them for expressing positive behaviors like staying calm and limiting barking while inside the nursery. Even with these suggestions, some dogs will not be able to contain their excitement and will need to learn that the nursery is completely off-limits. If you find your dog just can’t resist chewing on blankets and supplies, or continually tries to jump in the crib, you can take this time to utilize your baby gates early and use them as a teaching tool. Positive reinforcement will help your dog respect the gate while not viewing it as a punishment to try and outsmart.
All New Sounds and Smells
Dogs have heightened senses of smell and hearing, they can hear 4 times farther than humans, and the part of the brain that processes smell is 40 times larger than ours. Dogs process the world differently than we do, new smells and sounds can be both stimulating and overwhelming. Before the birth of your baby, you can start to adjust your dog by introducing different sounds they will have to get used to. Search for youtube videos or audio downloads that have sounds of a newborn crying, cooing, and much more. Playing these sounds in the house throughout the day will help desensitize your dog, making it less likely for him to become stressed when your baby comes home and cries every few hours. When your baby is born you can begin to introduce new smells to your dog as well. Collect a few items from the hospital that your baby has been wrapped up in like a swaddle suit or blanket and bring them home to your dog. Take time to let them adjust to the smell and set a new boundary, set the standard that you only allow your dog to smell the clothing if they remain calm and obedient. If you have the time, do this whenever you make a quick trip home from the hospital. Introducing the newborn’s new and unique smell will start the bonding process for your dog and they will be able to recognize your baby from the first second you and your little one come home for the first time.
The First Meeting
It’s finally time to bring your baby home and introduce your pup to their new best friend. While you’re going to be tired and ready to get everything in place, it is important to go slow for this first meeting. Have one person wait outside or in another room with the baby while another calms down your dog. They will be excited to see you and will already be able to smell your little bundle of joy. Wait until your dog has calmed down, move into a quiet place, and sit next to them while the baby is brought in but kept a few feet away. Keep one hand on your dog and allow them to slowly smell the baby at a distance. Let them adjust for a few minutes and then slowly move them closer. Do this a few times before allowing your dog to smell and inspect your baby up close. Continually speak to your dog in a reassuring and soft voice. Dogs are very sensitive to human emotions and body language and will understand they need to be gentle and calm. Don’t be surprised if your dog tries to lick your baby, this is normal. However, it’s advised to keep this to a minimum as your baby’s skin is extremely sensitive soon after birth. As the day progresses, have your dog close by to get used to the new routines. Have treats ready to reward good behavior and enforce positive reactions to the baby. You can treat them for remaining calm and quiet during diaper changes, nursing, and nap times. You may also want to make time in the day to play or go on a walk with your dog. This will maintain their normal quality time with you and help get their energy out so they remain calm inside your home.
Keep an Eye On Your Pup
Now that the first introduction has gone well, you’re still going to want to keep a keen eye on your dog as they adjust to all the changes. No matter how much you trust your dog, this is still a new experience that can come with challenges. Your dog will be very enthusiastic about their new friend, and they may try to play with your baby or invade their personal space before it is safe to do so. Make time to engage with your dog while doing activities with your newborn in a controlled way. If you’re feeding the baby, give your dog a little snack. If you’re taking the baby out in the stroller, bring your dog with you for a walk. This will ensure your dog associates quality time and bonding with the baby being present. You will also want to train your dog to keep away from baskets or bags containing baby medications and supplies. Many basic and necessary baby items like ointments, diapers, wipes, and gels can be very toxic to your pup if they are ingested. No matter how careful you are, accidents do happen, so you will want to do some research on how pet insurance works and see if it is right for your family. Pet Insurance can ensure that if your dog does get up to some mischief in the nursery you will have the support and funds to take care of them, while avoiding more financial strain on your family.
Lots of Love in the Days to Come
Having a dog in your home while your child grows up is a beautiful thing to witness. There are so many benefits to having a pet as part of your family, your child will grow up with a loyal best friend from day one. The early days will be a whirlwind for your family, full of both challenges and joy. The foundations you set with your pup as you prepared for your little one will ensure a safe and loving environment for your family to grow together. Taking the time to maintain a safe and loving environment with your dog will ensure they bond with your baby and will be happily by their side for the years to come.