In the excitement of bringing your new baby home, don’t forget to prepare your dog for this special event, too. Ideally you should make arrangements for someone he knows well to be there to make sure he doesn’t feel left out when baby first arrives. That person can help with the introductions, allowing you to focus on baby.
Calm, Quiet Hellos are Good for Baby and Dog
Hopefully you have done your homework, preparing your dog for the new arrival. With his manners all polished up there should be no reason for the first meeting to be anything but positive. But it still makes sense to have your dog on a leash just this once. Ideally, one parent sits with the baby while the other (or the dog’s special friend) brings the dog into the room.
Make sure everyone is ready for this moment with a focus on bringing your family together. If you’re nervous, the dog may pick up on that and assume the new baby is the thing making you nervous, so it’s important to choose a time when everyone is calm. The first visit need not include physical contact between baby and dog if it doesn’t feel right. Take it slowly so your dog will be happy to have your new baby in his world.
Your dog can come into the room, receive some special attention, and then go away again, if that’s all everyone is ready for. If everything is going well, let your dog lie quietly in the room. Having his favorite chew toy there is a good idea as it reinforces the idea that his world is still the same. Some dogs will naturally be gentle around the newborn. Others may be anxious to interact with the baby, so judge your situation and decide how to proceed.
Give Your Dog His Own Private Space
If you haven’t already created a ‘safe place’ for your dog, now is the time. Just as people need a place to escape when it all gets to be too much, dogs will do much better if they know there is somewhere they know they will be left alone. Teach him to go there on command as well. Below are some other resources regarding specific preparations you may want to make to get your dog ready for the new baby.
It is important to remember, however, that each dog is different. Gear preparations toward your dog’s individual personality. If you’re unsure what is best in your situation, a consultation with a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist can help ensure you’re doing everything possible to make this a smooth transition.
One final reminder: Never leave dog and baby alone together. If your dog is well-behaved, it is unlikely anything bad will happen, but it makes no sense to take any chances when simply separating the two ensures everyone’s safety.
UC Davis Clinical Animal Behavior Service. Bringing Home Baby: A Step by Step Guide. Accessed October 23, 2013.
Cornell University Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program. Preparing your pet for the arrival of a new baby. Accessed October 23, 2013.
CertifiedAnimalBehaviorists.com. Certified Animal Behaviorist. Accessed October 23, 2013.© Copyright 2013 Dawn Smith, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Parenting