Bringing home a new baby is an exciting moment for the whole family, but it can also be a confusing and stressful time for our furry family members. While preparing your home for your new arrival, don’t forget to get your pup “baby-ready” as well.
Even dogs who love children can have a tough time adjusting to the new routine that comes with a newborn. This may manifest as inappropriate behaviour or house soiling. To prepare, if your dog’s walks or mealtimes will be changing, try to implement these changes gradually in advance. It is also prudent to put baby-related items around the house and to simulate new actions such as diaper changing before the baby’s arrival.
Proper training can help prevent accidents and will help everyone cope with the excitement upon your little one’s arrival. Ensure your dog can sit, lie down, and stay even in a distracting environment without food rewards. If your dog has previously shown aggression towards children or adults, or shows signs of predatory behaviour (chasing/killing small mammals), enlist the help of a behaviourist in advance for specific advice on training and how to properly introduce your baby to your furry family member.
Bringing Home Your Baby
When it’s finally time to bring home your newborn, a slow introduction is always best. Remember to watch your dog for subtle signs of anxiety (such as lip-licking, yawning, or stiff body language), give lots of breaks, and don’t punish your dog for unwanted behaviour.
Start by leashing your dog and confining them to another room of the home. Once the excitement of your arrival has passed, introduce the dog to the scent of the baby first. You may then allow the dog to view the baby from a distance, telling them to “sit” and “stay”. Once they are calm, you may allow the dog to approach the baby while carefully supervised. The whole process may take several hours before the dog actually meets the baby.
If you grew up with a dog in your childhood home, you likely already know how special the connection can be between a child and their fur-siblings. By preparing for a smooth transition in advance of your new baby’s arrival, you can help to set the foundation for a bond that will last a lifetime!
Dr. I. Wonder is here to answer your questions regarding your furry family members. If you have a question, email it to us at danielle@NeighbourhoodPetClinic.com. Our team at Neighbourhood Pet Clinic will tap into their collective experience to answer your various questions.