Introducing your dog to your new baby

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Pregnancy is such an exciting time and one full of changes – for everyone! Very often, we forget what a massive transition it is for our furry friends when a new person is about to come home. Chances are that they have already started to pick up that things are going to start to be a little different around their home.

Perhaps they have become more attached to you since you fell pregnant, maybe even before you knew you had a bun in the oven – dogs are so intuitive! If you’ve finished up the baby room, your pup has probably strolled in every now and then and have to a good sniff around, trying to figure out what’s going on.

“With the arrival of baby, make sure to reward your furry friend for good behaviour such as being gentle around the baby.”

It’s a huge transition for your dog, and so to make things go as smoothly as possible, here are some tips and tricks for you to put into place to keep both of your babies as happy during this exciting time:

1. As soon as you find out that you’re expecting a new baby, start to make the necessary changes to the relationship that you have with your dog, this includes leadership. You absolutely need to be the pack leader so that you have dominance and can call the shots once baby arrives. Nine months is a good amount of time to get this done, but if you are starting to feel that you aren’t making any headway, calling in an animal behaviourist or going for puppy training classes is a great idea.

A new command that you may want to teach your dog is to “go away”. This may seem harsh, but it will be very useful when you want your dog to create some space between themselves and the baby. It could also help prevent them from constantly licking the baby.

2. Before coming home with your bundle of joy, it’s a good idea to get your dog used to the new baby’s scent. A great way to do this is for your partner to bring home one of the blankets that you have used for the baby in hospital. Place it in the cot (or wherever your baby will be sleeping) and encourage your dog to explore and sniff. This not only gets your pup used to a new scent in the home, but will also help to orientate them as to where the new baby will be most of the time.

3. When you bring your baby home for the first time, greet your dog as you normally would and keep your routine as normal as possible. For example, if you would normally greet your pooch with a treat in hand and then a cuddle, do exactly that. Although you may be a little bit on edge, try your best to keep your calm and when you speak to your dog, do it in a soft but happy voice so that they imitate you.

If you start using an angry or high-pitched voice, chances are that your dog will either start to feed off your anxiety or they will start to get over-excited, neither of which are ideal. If you are feeling particularly nervous or you know that your pup is a jumper, you can put your dog on their leash before coming inside with your baby.

4. By now you know your dog’s cues and their behaviour. With the arrival of baby, make sure to reward your furry friend for good behaviour such as being gentle around the baby. The easiest way to do this is with a treat. Conversely, bad behaviour needs to be dealt with as well and you need to do it as soon as it happens.

Experts suggest that you don’t raise your voice or verbally punish your dog. Rather use a stern, firm voice and remove them from the situation if you see that your dog is starting to behave in a way that is not acceptable – this includes growling or being too rough around the baby. You might have to do this a few times before your pup “clicks”. As frustrating as it may be, try to remember that this is a big adjustment for them as well.

5. Your whole routine is going to change now that there’s a new baby in your home, but this new normal needs to include your pup and their previous routine. Don’t worry too much about new toys, all they really need is to still feel wanted and not neglected, so make sure that you still give them lots of cuddles and take them on their regular walks.

This will also help them from getting cabin fever and getting “wild” around the baby. If you have an older child, get them to start to help you with looking after the pets, such as feeding them. This will help free up some time for you and also cultivate a sense of responsibility for your child.

6. If the vacuum cleaner and the like are not your pup’s favourite thing, you may want to introduce them to new strange items like the pram to avoid them feeling anxious when it starts to get used often. A great way to do this is to take the stroller with when you take your dog for a walk. They will soon realise that it is completely non-threatening.

7. Remember that as lovely and heart-warming as the relationship between a pup and a baby is, it takes a long time for that mutual respect and understanding to develop. It’s important that as much as you teach your dog to behave around your baby, you need to also teach your baby how to treat your dog with love and respect as soon as they are able to understand instruction. This means no tail pulling, riding on their backs, smacking, kicking, etc.

Adding a new family member into the mix is an adjustment for everyone, and it’s even trickier when one of the family members doesn’t speak. Give your pooch some time, follow through with these tips and things should go much smoother than you anticipate!

This article was written specially for BabyYumYum by Mascara & Mimosas.

Sarah Booyens Profile ImageSarah is a beauty-product hoarding mama who simply cannot get enough coffee into her system. You can expect to see a little of everything in her blog Mascara & Mimosas, from what makes parenthood a bit easier to her latest beauty obsession – or even what DIY she’s just tried.

Also read:

How to travel with your pet and keep them safe
5 funny things that happen when you become a parent