HOW TO INTRODUCE YOUR DOG TO YOUR BABY

Updated on January 10, 2023

After bringing home a dog, many people feel as though they’ve also welcomed their first child into the world. Combining a dog with a child might be a great idea because both need love, attention, and dedication from their owners.

Even while it’s rewarding to see a bond form between a dog and a youngster, the first few meetings between your human infant and your pet might be stressful. Remember that your dog has been an only kid up until this point, and that they may feel insecure about losing your attention to this weird new creature that can’t even walk, talk, or play with them!

In the weeks leading up to your due date, you and your dog will form an unbreakable bond, so let’s look at some ways you may get ready for the arrival of your new family member.

PREPARATIONS BEFORE BRINGING HOME YOUR BABY

If you’re expecting a child, you’ve undoubtedly been staying up late reading parenting blogs, poring over pregnancy books, and stocking your nursery with a plethora of new baby gadgets, gizmos, and gear. It may feel like months of planning to you, but to your dog, it will look as though a new person has sprung out of nowhere.

Because of this, it is imperative that you do all possible to ready your dog for the impending arrival of a new sibling who will irrevocably alter the course of his or her life.

All of your dog’s basic needs, such as when they’ll be fed, taken for a walk, and given your complete attention, should be consistently and reliably provided at the same time every day. Therefore, it is essential that they begin making minor adjustments to their lifestyle well in advance of the birth of the baby. By making adjustments before the baby arrives, you can lessen the impact the new arrival will have on your dog. We’ll run down a few things you can do to prepare for the arrival of your new baby and explain why they can be useful.

TEACHING CALM

It’s not uncommon for dogs to have never even seen a human baby, let alone lived with one. Your dog may find these small humans to be both bizarre and frightening, or they may find them to be the most interesting thing he’s ever seen.

Your dog may initially react with strong emotions toward your new infant. Desensitizing your dog to babies, toddlers, and older children is an excellent approach to moderate these reactions. Taking your dog to meet your friends’ kid will help them adjust to having a new family member around the house.

The Importance of Socialization When Introducing Your Child to Your Dog

Introducing a kid to the family pet
It’s not shocking that children can be rough around the edges. When they see a cute, fluffy dog, they can’t help but want to grab, poke, chase, and pull on the animal. You can’t blame a kid for wanting to give their dog a big hug because a dog is basically a living, breathing teddy bear. Your dog should be comfortable with being petted and handled in any way you want.

This can be challenging, especially as your baby begins to crawl and walk and grabs for your dog’s tail, if they are fearful of physical contact. It is a good idea to get your dog used to being petted and stroked before the baby arrives. Find out how much physical contact your dog can handle, and then gradually increase it. Reward and compliment them whenever they show no signs of discomfort when touched.

However, some dogs can’t contain their excitement at receiving any kind of human attention and end up bouncing, rolling, and jumping all over the place. While it’s wonderful that your dog is so affectionate and excited to be petted, a tiny child may be frightened by a large dog’s want to lick their face and drool all over them. When your dog is overexcited, you need to teach them self-control so that they can remain calm.

REVIEWING AND TEACHING NEW COMMANDS

JUMPING UP

A number of your dog’s habits that seem fine right now could become problematic if a young child were to join your family. To illustrate, consider how your dog greets you when you come home: by jumping up with joy and covering you in drool and kisses. This is a major issue if you’re pregnant, have a young child in your arms, or are being approached by a toddler or other little child.

The best way to ensure that undesirable habits have been eradicated by the time the baby arrives is to teach new commands and reinforce existing ones. In this article, we will go over some of the best ways to prevent your dog from jumping up on people.

GIVE ME SPACE

It’s okay if your dog isn’t a puppy anymore; you can still teach an old dog new tricks. If you want to have more control over your dog’s location when you’re holding the baby or when the baby begins to become mobile, it’s helpful to have a command like “back” under your dog’s belt before the baby arrives.

First, stand in front of your dog with your hand out. Then, take a few steps forward. It’s only normal for your dog to react by backing away. Immediately afterward, shower them with praise and a tasty food. Start using the word you’ve chosen as a command and keep practising until it becomes second nature. Gradually, you’ll be able to hold out your hand and say your cue without having to physically step away from your dog.

If you’re consistent with your dog’s training, he or she will be much better at respecting boundaries—which is helpful not only for the upcoming arrival of the baby, but also for any guests who might be uncomfortable with having a large, bounding dog in their immediate vicinity.

One last command to teach your dog is “go away,” which will help keep them away from the baby when it’s feeding time or nap time. Dogs are great, but not if they wake your infant up just as they’re falling asleep! This one is also not too difficult to teach; simply toss goodies away from where you are standing or sitting and say “go away” to get started.

LEAVE IT

The presence of children and infants means that there will be many new toys, clothing items, and even diapers lying around the house. Teaching your dog to “leave it” and “drop it” will come in handy to prevent your dog from accidentally picking up something it shouldn’t.

NEW SOUNDS, SIGHTS AND STRANGE OBJECTS

There will be a lot of new baby-related things around the house, as well as new baby sounds and scents, when you first bring your new baby home. It’s best to get ready ahead of time because your dog will be astonished, intrigued, and possibly afraid of these abrupt changes.

SOUNDS

It’s understandable that a dog could find the constant noise of a baby’s cries, screams, gurgles, and giggles to be unsettling. If your dog has a negative reaction to the sounds a newborn makes, you should continue playing them for them up until the day the baby is born.

You may desensitise your dog to the sounds by starting off very softly and praising them when they don’t respond. Eventually, you can increase the level and your dog will be completely used to them.

STRANGE OBJECTS

Toys, clothes, diapers, strollers, high chairs, and everything else a baby needs will quickly accumulate in your home. You should start leaving some of these things out on the counters, since you don’t want them to be really exciting things that look ideal for theft when the kid arrives. This is annoying and potentially dangerous, your dog could ingest tiny toys, steal and chew up nappies or start barking at whatever the strange thing is up on the worktops.

It’s generally recommended to start carrying around a baby doll in your arms so they become used to you having your attention on anything else. However, dogs are smart enough to comprehend that this doll isn’t a real human baby.

Your dog may be intimidated by larger items like strollers and high chairs because he or she sees them as alien, odd contraptions that tower over your dog. Your poor dog may get fearful of these complicated devices, which isn’t ideal because soon enough there will be a baby in there. If they’re afraid of the stroller on its own, they’ll be terrified of it with a baby inside, which can lead to unwarranted stress for both the baby and the family.

Preparing your infant for the dog’s arrival

Canine-infant interaction
You should also consider how your dog behaves when out on a walk. Do they make a beeline for people they see? Or do they pull on the lead like a lunatic eager to get to the park? If that’s the case, those are the kinds of actions that should be stopped before they even start. It’s risky to push a stroller while also walking a dog that pulls on the leash.

Before the arrival of the baby, walk the dog on a leash while pushing the stroller to see how it handles. The neighbours may think you’re nuts. Practice strolling with a loose leash on your dog if this seems difficult. To ensure that your dog walks nicely and politely when on a leash, read our advice on how to teach them to loosely hold the lead.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the leash should never be attached to the stroller in any way. Your dog may be great at walking loosely on a leash, but if they get startled by something in the street, the stroller might go flying.

FOOD

RESOURCE GUARDING

A dog’s dinnertime can be severely disrupted by curious toddlers and children. Having children around can be a hassle, as no one enjoys being poked, shouted at, or having their food touched by tiny hands. But as the old adage goes, “you should never disturb a dog when it’s eating,” this can lead to serious complications.

Resource guarding occurs when a dog exhibits extreme possessiveness about its food, toys, or bedding. If this is the case, you will need to work hard to retrain your dog’s attitude toward strangers approaching them while they are in possession of their prized possession by demonstrating to your dog that wonderful things can and do occur when humans are around.

To begin this adjustment in behaviour, toss goodies near your dog while he or she is enjoying his or her meal or toy, and gradually decrease the space between you and your dog. A detailed explanation of resource guarding, along with methods to counter it and avoid it in the first place, may be found in a recent post on our blog.

FOOD STEALING

Does your dog interrupt your mealtime begging? Do they attempt to grab food from the cutting board by scurrying up the counter? If this is the case, you should work to change your ways before the kid is born.

Can you see your dog jumping up to steal the food from your baby’s highchair? Or they may try to steal food right out of their hand. That’s going to be really frustrating for your kid, who’s trying to eat supper without having a giant dog stare at them the whole time. However, this not only leads to fights over food between your kid and the family dog, but it can also be harmful.

Your child’s little hands could be injured if your dog is constantly stealing food out of their hands. Moreover, the stolen food may not even be safe for dogs to eat.

SHARING

SHARING ATTENTION

Babies, like dogs, are very demanding of their parents’ time, effort, care, and attention. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that you will be able to devote as much time and attention to your dog as you did before the birth of your child, despite your protests to the contrary. It’s understandable that your dog would find this transition challenging.

A dog may feel neglected if you suddenly stop paying attention to them when one day they were the centre of your universe. In many ways, your dog was your first child, albeit one with four legs and hair instead of human skin. Before the baby is born, your dog will need to learn how to share this attention with the new addition. Try to simulate the amount of time you’ll have for your dog on walks, cuddling, and playtime when the baby arrives.

SHARING TOYS

Your dog will not only have to share you with the new baby, but also their toys. In terms of construction, materials, and noisemaking mechanisms, dog toys and infant toys are essentially interchangeable. We shouldn’t be surprised if our pets become confused about whose is whose. In order to prevent your dog from taking your child’s toys, you need teach them to recognise their own.

Start by storing your dog’s toys after they’re done playing with them, or just taking their exercise outside. If you only let your dog play with its toys when you take it outside or when you start a game, it will learn to associate playtime with those circumstances and be less likely to play with whatever it finds lying around the house.

Keeping your dog’s toys out of reach also reduces the risk of your infant putting a dirty, slobbery toy in his or her mouth. Prior to the arrival of the baby, it can be helpful to teach the ‘leave it’ and ‘drop it’ commands.

BOUNDARIES AND PERSONAL SPACE

It goes without saying that having a kid will likely completely upend your life, what with the influx of visitors, the continual noise, and the general feeling of chaos around the house. Feelings of wanting to go to some far, serene location to get away from it all are natural and understandable. Keep in mind that your dog shares your sentiments exactly! Apparently, domestic tranquilly can give way to bloodshed in an instant.

Your dog needs a safe and comfortable space of his or her own in order to relax and feel at home. Create a safe haven for your dog, whether it’s a separate room or a crate, that is completely out of bounds to the infant. It’s not easy, especially after your baby starts crawling, because for some reason, toddlers and preschoolers love to try to sleep on dog beds. Your dog will eventually learn that their bed in this area is associated with pleasant things like treats and silence, but it may take some time.

Bringing Up Kids and Dogs

The Joy of Bringing Up Kids and Dogs
You and the baby undoubtedly need some time alone every day just as much as your dog does. It’s not easy to nurse the baby or put them to sleep in quiet if the dog is poking around in the room.

Install some baby gates so you can restrict access to certain areas of the house from the dog. When your baby first starts to crawl and walk, this will provide a safe space for them to practise without fear of being knocked over by the family dog.

If you do decide to keep your dog in the baby’s room, make it clear that he or she is not permitted to sleep in the crib. It will be much simpler on everyone if you and your dog can work out some ground rules before the baby arrives.

OTHER PREPARATIONS

It may seem like a lot, but we’re almost done with all of the things that need to be done before the kid arrives. But if you put in the time and effort ahead of time, the transition between your human child and canine child should go off without a hitch.

And here are a few more pregnancy-related topics to mull over:

Dogs have an uncanny ability to sense their owners’ emotions and often react accordingly. It’s natural to feel nervous about welcoming a new baby into your family, but keeping your dog in the dark about the impending arrival could cause behavioural issues. It’s easier said than done, but if you can keep your cool, your dog won’t be as stressed out.
Having your dog taken care of by a pet sitter or dog walker for the first few days or weeks after giving birth is a huge relief.

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE BABY ARRIVES

FIRST INTRODUCTIONS

Your dog’s reaction to seeing your newborn is likely to fall somewhere on a spectrum from extreme curiosity to complete apathy to outright fear or aggression.

Everyone hopes their dog and newborn will hit it off right away, form a strong bond, and eventually come to view the new addition to the family as one of their own. Nonetheless, there are times when this is not the situation. Even the most mellow-mannered dogs can have a complete meltdown in the presence of a baby, even if they have encountered numerous babies before and exhibited no signs of fear or violence.

You can help your dog adjust to the new baby’s fragrance by bringing home a blanket from the hospital and letting it take a good sniff. Although this isn’t always easy to do due to logistics, you should try to if at all possible. A greater degree of planning is always preferable.

Whether or not you are able to implement the blanket strategy, one of the best things you can do before bringing your baby home is to have a family member or dog walker take your dog for a long walk in the hopes that he or she will be very tired and not exhibit the same levels of exuberance as they usually would when they have not yet had a walk.

WALKING THROUGH THE DOOR

Try to greet your dog when returning home without bringing the infant along. To take a break from babysitting, have a friend or family member wait in the yard while you walk inside to greet the dog. It’s been a while, so it’s possible that your dog will be so happy to see you that it will jump up and down on you.

If they’ve already greeted you, maybe they won’t go completely nuts and jump all over you when you come in with the baby. In case they persist in jumping up, holding the baby, you may find it helpful to request that the other person put the dog on the lead.

Keep your cool and your wits about you when you enter the house; if you have a helping hand, they should be able to divert the dog’s attention with a handful of treats. Having your dog come in for a sniff is a good sign, so don’t stop it if your dog wants to do so. They’re curious and eager to introduce themselves. Allow them to smell around, and then compliment them when they step back.

Do not force an introduction if your dog shows little interest or is afraid; it may take some time for them to warm up to each other. Even if your dog just walks away, that’s a good sign that they’re not scared, so be sure to treat them for showing some self-control.

PRAISE, REWARD AND TREAT

You may train your dog to think your infant is fantastic by associating it with good memories and experiences. It should come as no surprise that treats are what we mean when we talk about good, delightful things. In large numbers, too.

Praise and goodies should be given to your dog whenever it acts peacefully around the infant, or even when it avoids the baby entirely. However, be careful not to overexcite your dog with your praise. Allow your dog to observe you as you do things with your infant, such as feeding, rocking to sleep, or changing diapers. Give them a treat when they’re calm, and have a conversation with the dog to show it that you still care about it even though your attention is on the infant.

Tips for introducing canines and infants

When and how to introduce canines to infants
If you have a helper, you may both focus on tossing the treats to your dog. You can speed up the process of your dog associating your newborn with positive things by lavishing them with attention, treats, and praise.

If your dog is curious about what all the hoopla is about with the new baby, he or she may want to keep sniffing at the infant. If you’re worried about your dog’s nose being so close to your child, you should let this exploration take place because your dog will get bored.

If your senior dog has been an only child for a long time, it may take some time for them to acclimatise to life with other pets and people. Never ever ever ever ever discipline your dog because it reacted poorly. Reward them whenever they are around the newborn without exhibiting any negative emotions; otherwise, they will begin to link punishment and bad things with the baby’s presence, which will only make things worse.

Use a chew toy as a diversion so they don’t focus on the infant. You and your dog will both need some time to acclimatise to the new addition to the family.

VISITORS

A newborn infant usually has a lot of people stopping around to see them right away. It can be quite a few people if everyone who wants to attend the party brings grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles, etc. There’s a good chance your dog is wondering what’s up with everyone staring at this weird little thing instead of him. Some dogs may be overjoyed to have so many visitors, but they may get depressed when they see that their human guests are more concerned with holding the infant than with petting and playing with the dog.

As a result, they may resort to misbehaviour in an effort to attract attention. If you’re worried about your kid being envious of visitors, tell them to meet the dog instead.

On the flip side, if your dog is already timid, having so many guests about could be quite stressful for them. At times like these, it’s crucial to provide your dog with a quiet, secure place to retreat to.

OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Dogs’ responses to a new human baby might range from enthusiasm and happiness to confusion and fear to jealously and dissatisfaction and even anger. Eventually, your dog should be able to tolerate the newborn, if not come to like him or her, as the novelty of the new arrival will wear off.

If you’re expecting a child and know you want a dog, it’s a good idea to learn which breeds are suited to living with humans by doing some homework beforehand. We’ve written an in-depth piece on the most popular dog breeds that make great pets for families with kids, so be sure to check it out.

It’s important to show your dog patience no matter how they respond to the new baby in the house, and to set aside some special attention time for him or her. Dogs are great companions, but they can be a nuisance when you need some time alone with the newborn. A Kong or lickimat can help keep your dog occupied and calm while you spend time with the infant.

DOGS AND SMALL CHILDREN

It’s reasonable that young children would fear some dogs; they run, kick, scream, pull, poke, and prod at everything in sight. The good news is that babies do very little at first, but as they become older, they begin to crawl and then walk. Your dog will likely have a higher tolerance for your toddler’s antics when they have had time to adjust to your new family member through gradual modifications.

Teaching kids how to behave around canines

The proper way to conduct oneself around dogs, as taught to youngsters
You’ll have to put in a lot of effort to ensure the safety of your dog and children by keeping them under constant watch, prohibiting rough play, and keeping children away from the dog’s food bowl. If your kid is old enough to follow instructions, make sure they know what to do when they see a dog. They must never be cruel, rough, or pull at the animal’s tail.

RECAP

Having a toddler and a dog in the house might be challenging, but it’s well worth it if they can learn to get along. Your dog will likely experience some form of shock when you bring home a new baby, but you can lessen that shock by giving your dog plenty of advance notice and preparation.

 

 

 

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