Bringing a newborn baby home is an exciting time for the entire family, including your furry friend. However, how to introduce your dog to your newborn requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a smooth transition and a safe environment for everyone involved. Here are some essential tips to help you introduce your dog to your newborn.
Preparation before your baby is born
Forward plan so that your dog becomes accustomed to the additional items around your home. Ensure you place some of your baby’s items such as a moses basket, baby bouncer, pushchair etc in your home so that your dog gets used to these new items. Doing this will help your dog become accustomed to these being around. He will see them as normal before your baby arrives at home.
Let your dog sniff and smell baby’s blankets and clothes so that they feel familiar with scent. Use your baby’s skin care such as baby bubble bath, moisturisers etc so she is familiar with these new scents.
Play recordings of a baby crying, screaming and gurgling to familiarise your dog with the new sounds. Start with the volume low and increase as your dog gets used to them.
We advise you start to introduce the above around 4 months before baby arrives.
Prioritise Training and Socialisation
Before your baby arrives, ensure that your dog is well-trained and socialised. Basic obedience commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “leave” will come in handy during interactions with the baby. Practise these commands regularly and reward your dog for positive behaviour. If your dog shows any signs of aggression or discomfort, consult a professional dog trainer or behaviourist for guidance.
When bringing your newborn home, it’s important to introduce them to your dog in a gradual and controlled manner. It is a good idea to ensure your dog has been exercised so he isn’t too boisterous when you arrive home. Start by allowing your dog to sniff you and baby while you hold baby in your arms. Praise the dog for good behaviour, it won’t take long before they lose interest.
Do the first introduction in a quiet room and avoid the area where your dog eats or sleeps.
Establish boundaries to ensure a safe and peaceful environment for both your dog and baby. Use baby gates or playpens to initially separate your dog from the baby’s sleeping and feeding areas. This gives your dog space to adjust and allows you to closely supervise their interactions. As your dog becomes more comfortable, you can gradually increase their access to the baby’s space under supervision.
Reward your dog for calm and gentle behaviour around the baby. Offer treats, praise, and affection when they display appropriate behaviour, such as being calm, sitting or lying down near the baby, or responding well to commands. This positive reinforcement helps your dog associate the baby’s presence with positive experiences and encourages good behaviour.
Never leave your dog and newborn alone together. Always have an adult present to closely monitor their interactions. Watch for signs of stress or discomfort from either your dog or baby. If your dog appears anxious or exhibits signs of aggression, calmly redirect their attention to something else and consult a professional for guidance.
As your baby grows, gradually expose them to more interaction with your dog. Encourage supervised, gentle touch and interaction, always prioritising safety. Teach your child to respect your dog’s space and boundaries, emphasising the importance of gentle handling and never pulling on your dog’s tail or ears. Ensure also that your child respects where your dog eats and sleeps.
Maintain Routine and Attention
Maintain your dog’s routine as much as possible to minimise any potential anxiety or jealousy. Continue to provide regular exercise, playtime, and attention. Ensuring that your dog’s needs are met will help them feel secure and less likely to display unwanted behaviours.
Remember, every dog is unique, and the introduction process may take time. Be patient, observant, and sensitive to the needs of both your dog and baby. Seek professional advice if you have concerns or if your dog is exhibiting problematic behaviours.
With proper preparation, gradual introduction, and ongoing supervision, you can foster a loving and safe relationship between your dog and newborn, creating a harmonious and joyful environment for your growing family.