Congratulations on welcoming a new member to your pack! Whether it has two small feet or four paws, it’s an exciting time! We’re hopeful the two will become wiggly butt besties in no time. 😉
But before your duo hits that BFF status, there might be a few awkward moments (ex. dog toys being mistaken for baby toys and vice versa). To help ensure a smooth transition we’ve gathered up a few tips for you to safely introduce your baby to your dog.
Before the baby arrives…
1. Review The Basics
If you have a dog like mine, it’s time to nip those bad dog habits in the butt. Start by training your dog to sit and stay. Then, move on to commands such as “leave it” and “drop it”.
2. Present New Smells & Sounds
Introduce your dog to new sounds, smells and experiences before your baby arrives. This includes: the sound of a swing, the smell of baby powder, baby oil, shampoo, car seats and high chairs.
3. Act Like a Baby
Gently poke and softy tug at your dog’s ear just as a baby might do. Afterwards reward your dog with a treat. This will familiarize your dog with a baby’s mannerisms, and situations they may encounter. With that being said, it’s important to teach children to be gentle while interacting with dogs.
4. Practice Makes Pupfect
Some behaviorists recommend purchasing and introducing your dog to a lifelike doll. Some exercises encourage expecting parents to hold a doll in their arms and take it for a walk with the pup.
After the baby arrives…
Hooray! The day is here! It’s time to bring the baby home, and see all your preparation pay off. Here are a few follow-up tips to keep in mind while introducing your new bundle of joy to your fabulous pup.
5. Be Calm & Relaxed
When bringing your new family member home, be sure to greet your dog as you normally would to keep things as routine as possible. Remember to remain calm and speak to your dog in a soft and cheerful voice to assure them there’s no reason to be nervous.
6. Sniff It Out
Before introducing the two, allow your dog to sniff a blanket the baby has used so they can familiarize themselves with the scent.
7. Have Extra “Paws” on Deck
Having a dog handler in the room while you hold the baby will allow you to have more control over interactions. We recommended keeping your dog on leash while slowly introducing the two.
8. Supervise Playtime
It’s important to manage any interactions between your dog and baby – especially when they’re first becoming acclimated with one another.
9. Understand Your Dog’s Behavior
Always reward your dog for good behavior. If your dog growls or shows any signs of discontent, remove your dog from the situation. It is important not to verbally or physically punish your dog for his or her behavior. Actions such as growling allow you to take proactive measures to stop problematic behavior before it happens. If bad behavior persists, talk to a specialist about creating a safe behavior modification plan.
10. Plan to Multitask
Creating a lifestyle where both your baby hooman and baby puppy are involved will set you up for an easy transition. Some modifications include: taking your baby along for walks, feeding them both at the same time, or having a soft mat in the room for your dog to sit on while your baby eats.
All in all, the key to pup-ccess is to making your dog feel just as loved as they did before their tiny human sibling came along. As always, if you are unsure about your dog’s ability to cope with a new sibling, consult a dog behaviorist who can help your family during the transition. And don’t forget to give both your pup and your new baby lots of ruv! 😛