Dog owners who are expecting a baby have a lot to do to prepare for the baby’s arrival. One important thing to add to your list is making sure the introduction of the baby to your dog goes smoothly. A dog who is the only “child” of a couple needs some extra attention to ensure that the change is a happy one for all the members of your household. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Before the Baby Arrives
- Set up a comfortable and peaceful out of the way spot for your dog to retreat to if he gets agitated by crying.
- Get your dog used to the experience of a baby reaching out and touching him by gently touching his face, paws, and tail for a few minutes each day.
- Gradually introduce your dog to the new baby supplies that are entering the house, including furniture, toys, clothing, and powders.
- Take your dog to a few training sessions for a refresher course on basic commands. There’s also “baby readiness” training that can prepare your dog for the specific changes that come with a new baby.
- Vary your dog’s feeding and walking routine to prepare him for a new schedule that will be centered on the baby’s (and your) sleeping and eating times.
After the Baby Arrives
- Have someone take an item of the baby’s clothing to the house for the dog to sniff while the baby’s still at the hospital.
- The first meeting of dog and baby should be in a quiet space, with one person holding the baby and one person holding the leash. Let the dog sniff the baby a little. Everyone should remain in the room together, talking to the dog and offering her a toy or treat.
- Have everyone who comes to the house to see the baby greet the dog first and pay her some attention so she doesn’t get jealous.
- Ensure your dog associates the baby with positive things by interacting simultaneously with the baby and the dog. This could include things like coordinating feedings and taking the dog for a walk with the baby.
- To be safe, an adult should always be present when the dog is with the baby, even if the baby is in her crib. Take the dog (or baby) with you when you leave the room.
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