Having a baby is a joyous occasion. However, bringing the baby home from the hospital can be the scariest feeling in the world. You don't feel prepared or ready at all. Then, if you are like me, you have a dog at home who is probably also feeling anxious. He knows that something is changing but is really not too sure about what is going on.
Here are some tips to help you introduce your new baby to your dog.
Start as soon as possible. Shower your dog with attention as you prepare for the baby. Allow him in the nursery as you prepare. If you have friends with babies and children, start by introducing him to them now. If you plan to push a stroller, start practicing with pup now. Practice both walking with a loose leash and practice sitting when the stroller stops.
Keep your dog’s routine as normal as possible. Start now so that you can maintain his routine even after the baby comes home. It might be helpful to find a sitter to help with his pet care now so that he can get used to someone else, especially if you are going to need help after the baby comes.
When you do have the baby, be sure to bring something home from the hospital for your dog to smell. It is important that he learns the smell before he meets the baby.
Make sure that when you do introduce your dog and baby, everyone is calm. If someone is tense or the baby is crying, you should hold off on the meeting.
Be prepared if pup is shy, passive-agressive or has issues acclimating. One mom says the best advice anyone gave her when her fur baby started acting "strange" after the baby arrived was to set up pup's training crate. This became a place of refuge for her doggie who could observe all the activity from within and come out gradually as she felt safe. This may be a good idea in general to give pup a refuge for it won't be long before there will be a very inquisitive missile crawling around and that missile has no social filter what so ever. My daughter learned to walk by holding on to our standard poodle's fur. Some dogs may not be as understanding.
Having a baby is wonderful but can be stressful, especially if you have other “babies”. It is important to start preparing your dog now. Let him meet other children and babies. Keep pup's routine as normal as possible. Figure out what will happen when the contractions hit. A lot will depend on both your pup's personality and the support system you have. Will a close friend or relative come stay in your home with pup? Will you send him to stay with a friend or relative that he already knows well? Barkers, of course, can sign up for Baby Watch and have pup's own walker either stay or take pup to his home until everyone is ready. If that's a route you want to explore drop BarkMaster@BklynBark.com an email and together you'll come up with sets of plans so the appropriate one can go smoothly into place when ever "the second contraction" hits.
Most dogs intuitively understand the addition of a people puppy to their pack and are curious at first but quickly become big brother or sister. I recall tripping over my standard poodle as we both rushed to the nursery the instant we heard a single "Waaaaa". Other dogs show mild or little interest at first but the minute baby starts to interact with them a bond is born. Peter Pan's Nana comes to life the as pup realizes he or she has a responsibility for the little one. And a playmate.
Of course, if you have a dog whom you are not sure will be trustworthy with a new baby, contact a dog behaviorist - a behaviorist, not just a trainer - for intense help before the baby comes or the second you feel possible trouble after baby and pup have met. Contact your emergency vet for a recommendation or reach out to Anthony at Calm Energy Dog Training.
Contact us for any of your pet care needs. We offer Barkers a helpful Baby Watch program so that you can bring your people baby home, without worrying about your other baby. We can help before delivery, while you are in the hospital, and thereafter.