Bringing a newborn baby into your home can be an overwhelming experience for everybody, in particular dogs. New sounds, sights and smells combined with a change in routine can cause emotional and behavioural changes in your dog. It’s important to be prepared before, during and after your baby and dog meet.
Teach your dog new skills
Basic skills like sit, stay and lay could come in handy when it comes to sharing your home with a newborn and a dog as a hectic environment isn’t good for anybody. Teaching your dog to drop things will also avoid the baby’s things being picked up and teaching them not to jump up is crucial as it could be dangerous around a newborn. If your dog is excited, then it may be worth trying to calm them down. Consider professional dog training classes in the months coming up to the baby coming home and the process is sure to be less stressful for everyone involved!
Gradually reduce the attention you give your dog
It’s no surprise that once you have a newborn child, you will be spending less time with your dog. The best way to make this transition easier for both of you is to slowly reduce the time you spend giving your dog attention – as hard as it may be. Try to start this process about 3 weeks before you bring the newborn home.
Say hello first
Your dog is going to want to investigate when you first bring your baby home. After all the baby will be unfamiliar to them meaning they could jump up or become excited. Make sure to greet your dog alone first before introducing them to the baby. Allow them to adjust to sounds, smells and sights of the baby for a few days before you introduce them. Then when they do first meet ensure your dog is on a leash with you close by. When you feel comfortable enough, remove the leash.
Pay your dog attention
Try and find time to show your dog some love both when the baby is and isn’t around. You want to make the environment as normal as possible, so they don’t associate you giving them love only when the baby is not around or vice versa. It can be a confusing time for your dog especially if they were previously your ‘only child’. Also, make sure to reward them with treats or affection when they are well-behaved as this will encourage the behaviour again!
Consider putting up some safety gates if you feel necessary. Do this a few weeks before the baby comes into the house to get your dog used to them. This will also avoid them associating the change with the baby. Remember not to leave the two together without supervision even if you believe there will be no issues. Your baby could make sudden movements or loud noises which could scare or excite your dog. Try to be wary when your baby and dog are around each other, look out for any growling or unusual eye contact.
Rosie is a pet obsessed journalist originally hailing from the UK and now based in Sydney.