Bringing home a new baby is a huge change for everyone in the home—even for your furry babies (pets) who have already claimed the home as their territory. Most dogs do not present a danger to babies or young children, but certain sensible precautions should be followed. There’s no reason why dogs and babies cannot peacefully co-exist, but it will take a little adjusting for everyone, especially in the beginning. If you’re concerned about how your dog or dogs will react when you bring baby home, read on to get a few tips to help the transition go smoothly.
Reinforce Basic Commands
Before bringing a new baby into the home, you should be confident that your dog obeys simple commands to sit and stay. If your dog needs training, you should work on this before the arrival of the baby. Even if your dog is usually calm and laid-back, you need to make sure that he or she will respond to your commands and respond to your voice.
Get Your Dog Accustomed to Children
It’s best to get your dog used to babies and children before your baby is born. If you have friends with babies, invite them over frequently. To train your dog to tolerate or interact well with kids, you can reward the dog for all positive interactions with children. Your dog will be overwhelmed if he or she has never been around babies or children and then you suddenly bring home a baby that’s going to be around 24/7. If your dog is used to having children or babies around, there won’t be any concern when you bring your baby home for the first time.
Get Help if Necessary
Closely observe how your dog interacts with children and strangers in general. If the dog has a tendency to respond with fear or aggression, you should consult with a professional dog trainer and schedule some sessions. Most problems of this type can be corrected with a little work. Even if your dog is older, you have nine months to incorporate proper training techniques that will help the dog feel prepared for the baby’s arrival.
Introduce Your Dog and Baby Gradually
Don’t force your dog and new baby to spend lots of time together right away. Get them accustomed to one another in a gradual manner. During initial meetings, make sure the dog is secured on a leash, and try to have someone else in the room to either hold the dog, or pay attention to him or her. If your dog is used to being the only “baby” in the home, he or she might get jealous when you’re holding the baby instead of petting, playing fetch, or cuddling. If you have someone there to pay attention to the dog while you hold the baby, your furry baby won’t feel neglected and act out in jealousy.
Keep a Close Eye on the Dog
No matter how gentle a dog may be, there’s always a chance that it will misbehave if it feels provoked. Make sure you are always around when the dog and baby are in the same room so that you can mediate any problems if they come up. Even if you know your dog would never act out, you should still take caution, especially if he or she hasn’t interacted with babies before. It’s a good idea to keep the dog out of the nursery, and make sure the dog isn’t in the room when the baby is on the floor (in a carrier or on a blanket.) This is just for the first little while—once the dog is used to having the baby around, you likely don’t have to worry about having a problem between the two.
Introducing a baby into a household with dogs takes some careful planning—even if your dog is mild mannered and well-behaved. It’s best to start preparing the dog during your pregnancy, because the day you bring your infant home from the hospital will be enough of a surprise. By getting your dog used to the idea of having a baby around, the transition will be much smoother once the baby arrives. In time, the dog and baby will likely grow to be best of friends. Information for this article was provided by the professionals of the Brimley-Lawrence Animal Clinic, a vet clinic in Toronto.