Introducing Your Dog to Your Babyby Laura Driver
Preparing your dog for your new baby’s arrival can begin long before you give birth and gives you a better chance of a successful and easy transition. If you're getting a dog soon, or are due soon and are worried about introducing your dog to your baby, here are some tips to help the introduction.
One thing to remember: However friendly your dog may be, you must NEVER leave your baby or small child unattended with them.
Before the baby’s arrival
Make a conscious effort to gradually decrease the amount of attention you give your dog throughout the day. This will prepare your dog for the inevitable decrease in attention they will receive when the baby arrives. Play recordings of baby sounds and cries at low volume and only increase the volume when your dog is not stressed and remains calm. You can also consult a dog trainer if your dog displays any form of aggressive behavior.
After the baby’s arrival
Once the baby is born, bring home an item that your baby wore in the hospital to get your dog used to the smell of your baby. Let your dog smell and greet all existing family members before bringing the baby inside.
Allow your dog to adjust to the smell, sight and sound of the baby for a few days before introducing them in closer proximity or for longer periods of time. After a few days, allow the dog to sniff the baby while controlled on a leash. Pet him and give him praise while he sniffs. Most dogs adapt easily, but always take precautions. Always allow the dog to approach you and the baby. Allow the dog to choose to interact with the baby. Invites prevent bites. Give your dog plenty of attention when the baby is around. You don’t want him to decide that good things only happen when the baby isn’t around. Have “safety zones” for the dog. A safe zone is a private space – a crate, a bed, a gated laundry room, etc. where he or she can get away when the activity is too much for him or her. Children should not be allowed to “invade” the dog’s private space as this may provoke an aggressive response. Watch for signs that your dog is stressed, including panting, freezing and tense body language. Growling is a sign that gives you a chance to address the problem. Do not punish warning signs otherwise your dog may go directly to overt aggression without a warning next time.
Before you know it, they'll be cuddling up as the best of friends!