Introducing Your Baby to a Dog: Tips for a Beautiful Friendship Beginning

Featured image of mother and baby on bed with dog

Bringing a baby home from the hospital and finally expanding your family is a beautiful thing. It brings joy to you and your spouse, but if you have a dog, this experience can be frightening. Most family dogs don’t even mind another child in the family, but some dogs might be afraid or even not so happy about a new family member. When you think about it, babies do look like humans, but their smell, sounds and movement is something your dog probably never encountered before, plus the baby is taking up all of your time and attention. This may annoy the your pet or make it angry, and that is why you should know how to introduce dog to a baby

Your dog and new baby are bound to become best friends through time, but you have to remember that this is a sudden change in your household and the dog probably didn’t really expect it. So, read on and learn how to introduce baby to dog in a proper way and avoid and inconveniences.

Make changes in your dog’s routine slowly

Before the baby comes home, there are things you should change in your dog’s routines. It is essential to do this before introducing baby to dog, otherwise, your dog might associate that changes directly with the baby and could cause problems or show jealousy. So, change where your dog sleeps, make adjustments to daily walks and go through these before the baby arrives. Also, in order to better prepare your dog to many more changes to come, try changing, feeding, rocking and walking with an empty stroller so the dog gets accustomed.

Lessen the amount of attention to your dog

There is no doubt that your focus is going to shift to the baby, so you need to make sure your dog understands that. Months before the baby arrives, make sure to spend less time playing with your dog and give him less and less attention. This doesn’t mean you should neglect it, but just let the dog know that you are going to have to spend more time and focus on something else. You don’t want your dog to be overwhelmed with your attention and the change that last minute when the baby comes.

Acclimate your dog to new smells

Since dogs’ sense of smell is much more sensitive than ours, baby’s smell is going to be a surprise to them. Not to mention how the baby’s stuff, lotions, powder and other things are going to affect the dog’s nose as well. A couple of weeks before the baby comes home, and as soon as you start preparing for the baby yourself, you should acclimate your dog to new smells. When you bring in the baby powder, diapers, lotions and other necessities, make sure to give your dog to smell them and get accustomed. Also, once the baby is born, you can bring a piece of their clothing or a blanket to the dog to get it used to the infant’s smell.

Get the dog used to new sounds

Just like with the smells, your dog is going to experience some new sounds around the house. You don’t want that to be a surprise to him, so before introducing dog to baby, make sure to introduce your dog to baby sounds. You can play a tape recording of different baby sounds in your house and gradually increase the length or volume. This way, you will give your dog a chance to adjust to baby’s crying, cooking and other cute sounds that he is going to experience.

Teach your dog to “go to place”

Your dog is probably well trained by now, but you might have never asked him to go to place. It is essential to teach your dog this before the baby arrives, so he won’t bother the baby or you too much. If your dog already has a bed or a mat where he sleeps, you can teach him that command and that he needs to go there when asked. Just don’t forget to praise your dog or reward him with treats when he obeys, and you can give him a new chew toy to play with at his place once you’ve asked him to go there.

Image of baby looking at black dog

Establish boundaries around the nursery

Your dog might have all the freedom to move around the house, but the nursery should be off-limits. At least at the beginning. Teach your dog as soon as the nursery is done that he is not allowed there, especially not without your permission. Eventually, you can let your dog in there and let him explore and sniff around, but only with your supervision. Then, let him know that he needs to get out. You can repeat this a few times before the baby comes home, and this way you will let your dog know that this room belongs to someone else and that he needs to respect that all the time.

Control the introduction

When the time comes, you need to know how to introduce dog to baby in a proper and controlled way. You can start by taking your dog for a walk and tire him out. Before going inside the house, make sure your dog is calm and submissive. When you enter, the dog will instantly know that there is a new scent in the house and if you’ve introduced the scent already, he won’t be alarmed. The spouse that is holding the baby needs to be completely calm so the dog can pick up on that energy. Then, allow your dog to sniff the baby gently, but keep him at the distance and on the leash. During this first meeting, don’t bring baby too close to the dog. Take gradual steps before allowing your dog to come close, and eventually, he will know when he needs to keep the distance and when he is allowed to come closer.

Teach the baby as well

Part of the steps on how to introduce dog to baby is teaching your baby how to behave around the dog; especially when your child enters the exploratory state. Your dog and new baby may get along well, but babies don’t know about boundaries and what’s okay to do and what is not, so make sure to teach them about the boundaries. 

When your baby starts to grab things, teach them not to yank the dog’s tail or to bother the dog too much. This will teach your kid about mutual respect and you should start early. There are too many children who don’t know when to stop and provoke the dog unintentionally simply because you didn’t teach them about boundaries or you left them unsupervised. And unfortunately, the dogs almost always get the blame.

How to introduce dog to new baby is not an easy task. There are things to be done and you need to teach both your baby and your dog to respect each other. However, with patience and by starting early, introducing dog to baby will become an easy task and you’re going to be one happy family.

Author: Jonathan M. Ward
Author: Jonathan M. Ward

Himself a father of two, John is obsessed with getting the most out of every children’s product on the market, finding value wherever it can be found. His years of study in developmental psychology coupled with his passion for parenting make him an invaluable asset to our team.

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