For many people, a dog represents that first trial run at taking on parental duties. Think about it: You love, nurture, clean up after, and sometimes discipline your fur ball, much like a human baby or child.
And while likely nothing can break the bond between dogs and their human parents, the addition of a new baby can certainly put it to the test. This will be a learning experience not only for you but for your pup as well. Getting your dog used to the new addition to the family doesn’t have to be hard — it just takes a bit of prep.
We want you to feel confident introducing your pooch to the new kiddo, knowing that you’ve done everything you possibly can to make the transition smooth and easy on the entire family.
Here are five tips for making that very first meeting a cinch. Pretty soon your dog and your baby will be best friends!
Switch Up the Schedule
Newborns are NOTORIOUS for wreaking havoc on an otherwise routine schedule. As such, your dog will likely endure some schedule changes as well when the baby arrives. A few months before you give birth, it might be a good idea to change up your pet’s daily schedule and the amount of attention you give him. That way, when things do inevitably change, your dog won’t necessarily associate the changes with your new bundle of joy.
Revisit Tricks and Commands
If you haven’t trained your dog to follow basic commands, shame on you! (Just kidding.) But really, now is the time to start. Basic commands like sit, down, wait, and stay help with impulse control, and dogs should also now learn that jumping up is a big no-no.
New Baby, New Boundaries?
Speaking of rules, will there be any new boundaries for your dog to adhere to? Can your dog still sleep in the bed with you, or is there a new occupant in town? Can pup still climb on the couch and other furniture? And what about the baby’s room? Cesar Millan, pet expert extraordinaire, recommends making the new nursery off limits — at first. Gradually you can experiment with letting your dog sniff around a bit — under your supervision, of course — to get used to the new sounds and smells.
Curate the Introduction
Dog experts recommend doing the initial introduction when your dog is in a calm or relaxed state. Perhaps have someone take pup on a long, energy-zapping walk or play session first. Once back home, whoever is holding the baby should be completely calm and collected, and should also speak to the dog in an equally soothing way. Maybe allow your dog to sniff a bit (from a distance), giving constant praise for his good behavior. Depending on your dog’s personality, it may be best to limit interactions, allowing him to get closer to the baby over time.
How to Deal With Aggression
If your dog gets aggressive with baby, separate them immediately. If all else fails, you may need to seek professional help in the form of a dog trainer who can help with any behavioral issues. Your child’s safety should come first, so behavior modification is very important in this instance and should be taken seriously.