So, your pampered pooch is accustomed to the good life. As the main attraction and center of your universe, he’s used to endless pets, delish treatos, boundless adventures in the park, spaw days, road trips, and hikes. But things are about to change now that baby is on the way. Put yourself in his paws: imagine meeting a new alien-like creature that cries, poops, and takes attention away from him. How can you ease your beloved fren’s mind and encourage bonding with his new sibling? We sniffed out tips from experts on how to introduce your dog to your new baby.
Do Your Homework Before Baby’s Arrival
Introducing your dog to your baby is a marathon, not a sprint. Hopefully you and pup have been doing a boot camp and studied our tips about how to prepare your pup for a baby.
Crunch time? The most important thing is to implement changes to the dog’s routine before the baby arrives, so she doesn’t associate the change in routine to the new sibling. If pup’s allowed in the nursery, move her bed to a comfy spot. Then practice simple commands like sit and stay for when the baby is nursing or being rocked. Reward with treats.
If pup’s not allowed in the nursery, make sure she knows it’s off limits. Keep the door closed and practice going in the room without her. Reward her for listening and ignore any attention-seeking behavior like barking or clawing at the door.
Stock up on her fave snacks, bones, and toys for rewards. Leave treato jars around the house, especially in the nursery. The dogs will be less likely to become possessive if they get attention, treats, and praise when the baby is near. Remember, the ulti-mutt goal is to teach her that good things happen when the baby is around!
When Baby is Born
After your bundle of joy is born, have another trusted human bring home a blanket with both mom and baby’s scent on it. Give pup a treat, show him the blanket, and let him sniff and explore it. Shower your pup with very good boy praise. Oh, and henlo—don’t forget his favorite treatos!
When Baby Comes Home
Each parent should greet the dog without the baby first, so the dog won’t associate anyone coming home with the new alien creature (er, we mean baby). Give pup plenty of lovins and pets, then once he is calmed and under control, put him on a leash.
Have a family member or human friend bring baby in after about 5 or 10 minutes. If you have more than one dog, you may want a third person present. Continue giving treats and praise while you walk around with the baby. If your dog is giving off a curious but chill AF vibe, sit down and let him investigate the baby.
If you feel comfortable, experts recommend letting your dog sniff, starting with the baby’s feet without socks. We know it sounds weird, but trust us. Of course if pup is acting cranky or aggressive around your new addition, give them space to get used to each other.
Bonus awww points: Our client success manager told us she and her partner kept a brand new dog toy in the car. When she introduced her Lab Dani to her son, they gave her the new toy. Dani proudly carried the toy around the house, happy to have a gift from her new brother.
The First Weeks: Peaceful Cohabitation with Your Dog and Newborn
It might seem natural to crate your dog or send her to the yard when the baby is awake, then shower her with attention when the baby’s asleep. But this is a perfect recipe for sibling rivalry and jealousy. It will create negative associations. Read: This whole baby thing means being separated from her fave hoomans—without pets or attention. Instead, let doggo co-exist with baby when she’s awake, and encourage your pup to sleep and chill when baby’s in dreamland.
That said, be in tune with your dog’s body language and agitation levels. If she seems crabby and overwhelmed, this is a good time to take her to her crate or quiet area. If she’s easily excitable or if the baby’s sick, use a baby gate.
Once you’re settled in, start to practice clicker training. It’s an easy way to bond baby and your dog. Once the click is associated with her fave treatos, then you can click for appropriate behavior around the baby. Reward her for following commands like sitting, staying, and giving baby space when nursing or sleeping.
Oh, and let’s talk dirty diapers, a gross-but-true part of the deal. Unfortunately, it turns out pup may think they are a tasty snacc (not her best moment). Make sure the diaper pail is closed and locked at all times. Your dog could choke and possibly suffocate. Plus, EW!
Keep Calm and Carry On
The road to happily ever after may be long and challenging. But we promise with patience, practice, and training, it’s well worth it to see swoon-worthy moments with your sidekick and newborn bonding.
Have hot tips on how to introduce your dog to a new baby? Have pics of your doggo and baby together? For the love of Dog, please woof at us in the comments and tag #SidewalkDog in all those adorable shots!
Featured photo: Ryan Stone
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