It’s no surprise that dogs that aren’t used to being around babies are usually curious about them. After all, they sound, behave and smell much differently than us. As a parent-to-be, you’re probably concerned about how your dog will react to your new bundle of joy. And it’s completely understandable! Dogs react to new babies in a way that’s very similar to the way a sibling reacts to a new baby. Your dog was your first “baby” and unless the introduction between your dog and your new baby happens like it should, your dog could experience hurt feelings. Preparing your dog for the baby’s upcoming arrival in advance is by far the best thing you can do to help avoid jealousy between the two.
Listed below are 10 tips that’ll help you prepare your dog for your baby’s arrival.
1. Have your dog examined by his vet to make sure he doesn’t have an illness that could possibly pose a health risk to the baby or any other member of the family.
2. Let your dog get used to the smells and sounds of a baby in advance. For example, you can play recordings of crying babies, or you can apply baby lotion to your hands regularly and let him sniff them.
3. Consider enrolling your dog in an obedience class to make sure he knows the three basic commands: come, sit, stay. These commands will come in handy while you’re taking care of the baby and your dog is trying to “help” you.
4. Prior to bringing your new baby home, send home a blanket that your baby has been wrapped up in so your dog will get used to the baby’s scent.
5. When you bring your new baby home, make sure someone else holds it while you greet your dog with open arms, telling him how much you missed him. After you’ve greeted your dog, let him run around a bit to release his built-up energy. After your dog has calmed down, it’s time to leash him up and introduce him to the newest family member. Remember to stay calm during the introduction. If you’re nervous, your dog will sense your feelings and feel nervous, too. And don’t forget to praise your dog for acting calmly around the baby.
6. Spend quality one-on-one time with your dog while your baby sleeps. This will feel like old times for your dog because he’ll feel like he’s the center of your attention again.
7. Keep reminding your dog that every time the baby cries, it’s a normal sound and there’s no need for him to get upset. Try training him to NOT bark when the baby cries and every time he doesn’t bark, remember to reward him with a treat.
8. You should NEVER provide your dogs with toys that are similar to your baby’s toys. After all, what would happen if your baby plays with a toy that looks like your dog’s toy, but it actually belongs to the infant? Your dog will get confused and try to take the toy from your baby’s hand, possibly causing injury.
9. To keep your dog out of the baby’s room, you can set up a removable gate as a barrier. If you have a dog that likes to jump, you may want to consider installing a screen door as a barrier. Since both of these barriers will still allow your dog to see and hear the baby, he’ll start to feel more and more comfortable with the new family member.
10. Never, ever, ever leave your dog alone with the baby. Your dog may be the friendliest and best trained dog in the world, but a crying baby may still irritate him and he may act out instinctively.