The Four-Legged Sibling: Introducing Your Dog to a New Baby
Bringing home a new baby means new smells, new sounds, and a whole new routine. It’s important to prepare your dog for these changes. Start several months before Baby comes home.
Practice basic training.
Life will be hectic when Baby arrives, and you’ll want to be able to control your dog with simple commands, like “sit,” “stay,” “drop it,” and coming when called. This would be a great time to enroll your dog in basic behavior training.
Babies get lots of visitors. Practice meeting new people now so he learns to greet visitors politely.
If your dog jumps up on you, this is a good time to teach him to stay on the floor.
Prepare for changes.
You may have new rules when Baby comes. If you don’t want your dog to sleep in your bed or climb on the couch after Baby arrives, start practicing these habits ahead of time.
If you think you might be too busy to walk your dog after Baby comes, hire a dog walker or find a doggie daycare and establish a good relationship with them now.
Your schedule may change after Baby is born. Help your dog get used to this by mixing up his feeding schedule. Alternatively, you could buy an automatic feeder.
Expose your dog to new experiences.
Unwrap new items, like high chairs and swings, so your dog can investigate them.
Start using baby lotions and shampoos on your hands so your dog can get used to the new smells.
You can play baby sounds and crying noises on your computer so your dog can get used to them.
Expose your dog to lots of handling. It’s important to know how your dog will react when Baby pets or pokes him, especially if any parts of his body are sensitive or painful. Reward your dog with lots of treats and praise to help him get used to being handled.
If you have friends with kids, invite them over for a fun game of fetch. Show your dog that children and new friends are fun!
Make a good first impression.
When you bring Baby home, make sure your dog has a chance to greet everyone before he sees the baby. After he recovers from his excitement, put him on a leash. Have treats handy!
Remain calm when you bring Baby inside. This will help show your dog that the new addition is nothing to worry about. Have a helper lavish your dog with treats and praise while Baby settles in.
With your dog safely secured on a leash, take him into a quiet room and allow him to sniff Baby. Offer lots of treats and praise. Your dog may be very curious and pull towards the baby. This is normal, but maintain good control of your dog. At first, you may want to limit their interactions to brief periods.
Help your dog and baby develop a friendship.
Share your attention the best you can, by talking to your dog and offering him plenty of treats and pats. Include him in your day whenever possible — it will make him very happy!
Help your dog associate Baby with good things, like praise and pets whenever the baby is around.
If you have trouble, seek help.
Seek the help of a qualified trainer if you need it. Remember not to punish your dog, as it can cause him to feel even more stressed and lead to more behavior problems.
Congratulations to you and your family members, two- and four-footed!