Tips for Introducing your Newborn to your Dog
Even if you have an amazingly sweet dog, bringing a newborn baby into the home can be challenging. For that reason, it is imperative that certain precautions be taken. This is true for any breed since dogs often need help making a smooth transition. Although this would be something important regardless of the number of children in the home, it is especially vital when bringing a first baby home. With the tips provided, we feel confident the entire family will mesh beautifully.
Great Tips for an Easy Transition
1. Alpha Position – As a pet owner, you need to take an alpha position. By nature, dogs are pack animals, even domesticated animals so for training purposes but also to have a pet you can enjoy and control, you want to become the “leader of the pack” or alpha. You do not need to be dominating, just show that you are the master. This is something that you want to start as soon as the dog becomes a member of your family.
2. Introduce Scent – Once the baby has been born, we suggest that you bring a receiving blanket home from the hospital and while holding it, allow your dog to sniff. Not only will this help your pet become accustomed to a new scent but by holding it and giving the animal permission to sniff, it puts you in control so the dog will know to wait for permission before approaching the baby once home
3. Remain Calm – Dogs are very sensitive creatures so if you feel anxious chances are good your dog will too. The best thing you can do as you go through the different steps and even during the period of introducing your newborn to your dog is to remain calm.
4. Set Boundaries – Your dog is naturally going to be curious about this tiny person but it is important to set boundaries. For example, the nursery should initially be off limits. As time passes and with an adult present, the animal would be able to go into the restricted area to sniff around.
5. Prepare the Dog – You want to avoid introducing a newborn to your dog unless the animal is calm. The best option is to take the animal for a long walk or have someone spend ample time playing with the dog to reduce energy.
6. Face to Face Introduction – Having introduced the receiving blanket, once the baby comes home the dog will already know the familiar scent. Even so, during the first meeting, an adult would be seated and while holding the baby close, allow the animal to approach yet held back several feet. Remember, it is important to remain calm and keep some distance between the baby and animal. Over the next few days, additional introductions would be made, each time allowing the animal to get a little closer.
7. Shared Attention – Keep in mind that prior to having a baby, your dog probably received a lot, if not all of your attention. Therefore, once the newborn is brought home from the hospital, you want to make sure you continue providing the dog with special attention. Although there will be change, by taking time to play and snuggle with your dog the transition will be easier and the baby better accepted.
8. Lessons for Children – As your baby becomes older, he or she would also need to be trained in how to properly interact with the dog. As an example, the child should be taught not to pull on the animal’s ears or tail, to stay away while the dog is eating, and so on.
We want to point out that some dogs handle the introduction of a newborn to the home better than others but in most cases, this is not breed related. Typically, older or high-strung dogs tend to need a little more time for the transition to be completed. By following the tips provided, things will go relatively smooth.
Of course, the safety and well-being of your child takes priority over a pet and while heartbreaking, there are instances in which a dog needs to be placed in a different home without children. However, good preparation, patience, and making all the right decisions is usually what it takes for everything to work out well. In fact, there is a good chance the dog and your child will eventually become best friends for life.