When expecting a new baby there are many things you need to plan for and consider and this includes how it will impact your existing family members whether that be your other children or your pets. Dogs, in particular, can be sensitive to changing environments, smells and sounds and there will be lots of these when a newborn joins the pack! However, dogs and babies make an excellent match when you put in place the right measures of success.
It can be a worrying time for you as you want your dog to accept and love your baby as much as you do, whilst not causing either any undue stress. Rest assured, if you follow these steps, you will be on the right track to safely integrating your newest member of the family.
Yes, the process of getting your dog ready for the new arrival actually starts before they have even arrived! The steps you take early on can make a huge difference to how successful the integration will be overall.
Ensure that your dog is up to date on its flea and worming treatment. If this is something that hasn’t been done for a while, you may need to treat the house as well.
The process for getting your dog ready for the new arrival actually starts before they have even arrived. If this is your first child, the noise level will be something that will be new and possibly unsettling for your pouch. To help desensitise your dog to these new sounds, in the lead up to the bird, gradually introduce baby noises. For example, play youtube video clips of crying babies starting low and increasing the volume. Be sure to give lots of reassurance and give praise and treats when your dog is calm and settled. This technique can be used for different sounds, such as toys, loud banging etc. The other aspect you will need to desensitise your dog to is unfamiliar objects such as the cot, walking alongside a pram and learning that the toys are not theirs!
If your dog has behaviours that may be potentially hazardous to a small child, for example, jumping up, seek training support to improve them as early on as possible. These can be potentially dangerous habits around an infant.
If your dog is used to a routine, it is a good idea to mix it up a bit in terms of timings as we’re sure you are already prepared for your routine to be turned upside down for a while, so must your dog!
First Impressions Count
The time has finally come when your little one is welcomed to the world. Whilst you may still feel a little anxious about the imminent introductions, try to remain as calm as possible, as your dog will follow your lead on emotions.
When your baby arrives, before you bring them home, ask a friend or family member to take an item with your baby’s scent on it to your home. Rub and waft the smell around the home and let your dog have a good sniff from a distance to create a firm boundary to begin with. To a dog, their sense of smell is primary, so it will be like they have already been introduced.
Create the State You Want
Most dogs are full of beans and excitable before they have had their first walk of the day. We’re sure you will agree that this is not the ideal behavioural state you want your dog to be in when they meet your precious one, so be sure they have had a long walk and are relaxed and calm at the time of their first meeting.
Slowly Bridge the Gap
Firstly, get a helper to hold the dog on a lead as a safety measure, it is important that the helper remains relaxed and doesn’t hold the lead in a taut position as this may cause your dog to tense up as a result.
When seeing your baby for the first time, allow your dog to sniff and observe from a distance, giving them reassurance and praise for calm and relaxed behaviours and body language. Gradually allow the dog to get closer if you feel they are responding well. If your dog is showing signs of excitement, do not proceed to this step until they are calm.
If necessary, repeat this process a few times until you feel comfortable that your dog is showing you relaxed body language. Once this happens, you can let your dog close enough to smell the baby’s feet, still with someone holding them with a lead on.