First and foremost, the team at Pawp wants to congratulate you on your new addition. Bringing a baby home is exciting and can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you have a furry friend at home that you are concerned about getting jealous.
Your dog and new baby can create an incredible, close bond, but it is important that you take your time to form this connection. In addition, creating positive associations between the baby and dog can prove invaluable when it comes to making the introduction a success.
If you are bringing a new baby home, you have a lot to think about. Pawp has created this handy guide to provide you with a slew of information regarding how to properly introduce your dog to your new baby.
Continue reading to learn everything you need to know to make this transition a positive one and create a bond between your dog and your new family member.
While dogs can certainly be around babies, it’s important that you remember that the introduction is a staggered process and certainly does not need to be done in just one day.
In addition, you should keep in mind how essential it is that you never leave a dog and baby unmonitored together. This is because the dog or puppy could accidentally hurt the child.
According to Pawp veterinarian Dr. Jenna Olsen, bringing a new baby home is thrilling, but it’s important to take your pet into consideration, too. This will help make the connection between baby and dog easier.
“Welcoming a new baby is an exciting time for expecting parents; however, the new sounds, smells, and change in routine can pose quite the stressor for our pets,” says Dr. Olsen. “Without appropriate planning, both owners and pets can end up frustrated. Frustrated pets often exhibit unwanted behaviors, which can lead to surrendered pets and/or behavioral euthanasias.”
While you might notice that your dog begins to act differently in the presence of your new addition, it is entirely possible that what you are seeing is not actually jealousy but frustration or even stress that has resulted from their lifestyle change and altered daily routine.
According to Dr. Olsen, “While it’s possible dogs could get “jealous” of the baby, it’s more likely that they will be frustrated with the change in routine (fewer walks, less attention, different feeding times, etc.)."
Dr. Olsen elaborates that the new smells and baby sounds, in addition to the new routines, may upset your dog. She recommends that dog and baby parents schedule some quality time with their dog. Give them lots of attention, tasty treats, and a play session with their favorite toy.
When your dog is jealous, they are really experiencing insecurity as a result of the fact that they’re territorial over you and someone — or something — else has your attention aside from them. You might notice that they attempt to nudge their way in.
That’s why it’s wise to gradually begin spending less time with your pet before the baby is born, to get them used to the fact they will not have your undivided attention anymore.
It’s important that you do not wait until the day you bring your baby home to begin preparing your dog for the new arrival. In fact, this preparation should actually begin months ahead of time to make the process as seamless as possible.
Here’s what you need to know about preparing your dog to meet your newborn:
In the months prior to your new baby’s due date, it’s important that you take steps to make your dog more obedient than they were before. Use plenty of positive reinforcement and go over the basic commands. They should understand cues like sit, down, drop, and go to a specific place like their crate or bed.
Dr. Olsen recommends consulting a dog trainer if you have any doubts and always keep building on your dog’s knowledge, as there is always more to learn. Additionally, she says it is often helpful to mimic future patterns. She says that cradling an object (like a baby doll) while you interact with or walk your dog is a great start.
In addition, it is also wise that you get your pet acclimated to being around other older children, toddlers, and babies and the noises that accompany having a child in the home. For instance, you can play baby-noises. You can also expose them to the new things like furniture and equipment that will be everywhere, like the bassinet or car seat.
“Let them check out the nursery and see/smell the setup,” Dr. Olsen advises. “Are there toys that make noise or swings that play songs? A new giant rocking chair? Get them used to those first before the baby is anywhere near them. Make these experiences positive by reinforcing based on your pet’s primary motivator (food or attention).”
For example, have your dog practice walking on a leash next to the stroller in preparation for your baby's arrival. Use plenty of rewards and praise.
If you are going to be using a baby sling, you can place a baby doll in it before the baby arrives so that your dog gets used to being around a small person. You could also put a doll in the baby’s crib so that your pet gets used to seeing a person in there.
The goal is to reduce the number of surprises your pet will experience as a result of the real baby coming home.
You can also find people that will help take care of your pet for you when your new baby comes. For instance, if your parents are going to be around a lot but your dog isn’t particularly close with them, you can start creating a connection between your dog and visitors before the baby arrives.
That way, when the baby is here, your parents or sitters can help take care of your dog, and they will feel comfortable with them.
Before you let your dog meet your baby directly, you should help them get used to your newborn’s smells, as well as other smells that will become increasingly relevant in your home. This is a fantastic way to introduce the two as dogs have exemplary senses of smell.
This could include baby formula, baby powder, lotions, etc. While your baby is in the hospital, you can bring home your baby's blanket for your dog to sniff. This will help your dog become acclimated to the baby's scent.
Once your baby has arrived, it is time to introduce your pup to your newborn baby. This is an exciting, overwhelming, and stressful experience, but it’s essential that you do this correctly to enhance the chances that the connection between your newborn baby and dog will be strong.
You, your partner, or a family member can walk your pet first. This can help them get some energy out. It also can alleviate some of the tension of bringing the baby in the door.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should always, always supervise your infant and your dog. They should never be in a room alone together. There should also be an adult actively monitoring the interactions. This applies to the first meeting, as well as any meetings moving forward until your baby is older.
When you do get home with your new baby, being calm and stable is an absolute must.
According to Dr. Olsen, “Have someone else take the baby into another room while you greet and reinforce your pup in a calm manner. Try to minimize them getting riled up. No introductions between baby and dog until everyone is calm and ready. Introductions DO NOT need to happen on day one.”
Again, Dr. Olsen reiterates how important it is that you do not force your baby on your dog. Instead, begin the process from a distance.
“Including your pet in the bonding process is important, but that doesn’t mean there has to be direct contact right off the bat. Baby gates and crates are completely acceptable ways to safely allow your pet to be part of the experience. Giving them an activity/task such as a puzzle toy or stuffed kong can also facilitate positive associations with the baby.”
Lastly, keep in mind that your dog could be experiencing anxiety and complicated emotions as a result of the new baby, too. They’re used to their lifestyle and routine. When you are introducing a person, that will effectively change that. It’s understandable that your pet is experiencing anxiety as their pack changes. Be mindful of this.
If you have any questions about how you can properly introduce your dog to your new baby, you can always reach out to Pawp’s reliable, trusted veterinarians that you can access on telehealth.
The vets at Pawp are available to answer your questions 24/7, and you never need to make an appointment or wait. Pawp’s vets can discuss behavior issues and how to set boundaries with your baby or even give advice on canine food or advice for emergencies.
INTRODUCING DOG TO BABY SOURCES: