How to Prepare to Introduce a New Baby to Your Fur-Baby
You’re pregnant, you’re excited, nervous, and ready to gather as much information as you can about this new chapter of your life.
Between researching sleep patterns, breast feeding, and figuring out child care and money options, its easy to overlook other members of your family—particularly the fuzzy ones. But, never fear, there are a few very simple things you can do to make sure your dog is prepared when baby comes home and plenty you can do after to make sure baby and man’s best friend coexist together without a hitch.
Socialize your pet with infants and children.
Ideally, your pet has already been around children but, if not, it’s never too late to start. Invite friends over who have well-behaved children who have been taught how to interact with animals. Some other ways to expose your animal to kiddos are to visit parks, take a walk with your pet through a pet-friendly farmers market and allow your dog to smell and say hi to children in public places (with their parents permission, of course).
Engage their nose.
As you start buying toys and clothes for your baby, allow your dog to sniff the clothing. Granted, it doesn’t have baby’s scent on it yet, but it will get the dog use to the new linens and items in the house. Also, make sure your dog understands the difference between his/her toys and baby’s toys. Otherwise, you might come home to discover stuffed animal fuzz has exploded all over your home.
Go all-out and get a prop-baby.
If you’re concerned that your dog might not know how to be gentle with baby, go to the children’s store and buy a baby doll. Put clothes on it, swaddle it, lay it on the floor and allow your dog to sniff and nuzzle it. If they try to mouth the doll, correct them. This may seem silly, but it can actually serve as a great visual training tool for your animal.
Give your dog a job and lots to entertain him or her.
You are not going to have as much time to play with and entertain your dog after baby comes for quite some time. That’s just a reality. As such, new toys and even a job such as fetching the diaper bag can give your dog a sense of purpose and keep them entertained while feedings and other baby-centered activities are happening. Consider items such as puzzle balls, which can serve to entertain your animal for hours.
Once baby comes home, introduce slowly and per your comfort level. Your dog is going to know something is up. They are going to hear the crying and be interested. Once you feel comfortable, allow your dog to come into the nursery or lay next to you or your partner during breast-feeding. Don’t ostracize them because that could cause aggression later.
Always keep it positive.
If your dog has never been around an infant, they may need reminders not to lick or nibble and to be gentle. If your dog behaves in a way that you don’t like, a firm “No” is the best command. However, be sure to avoid yelling at your dog, smacking them away or becoming frantic. This will only cause them to become anxious around baby and will create a negative association. Keep it firm, positive and loving—always.
Teach the command: “Gentle.”
Like other simple commands such as “sit,” “stay” and “come,” the command to be gentle with your baby can be demonstrated and taught. Some ways to make teaching this command easier include using a prop-doll or treats. Ask all members of the family to help. Praise, praise, praise when your dog is gentle, and give a firm no when your dog is not gentle. Have your dog practice being gentle with you by playing rough and then switching to being calm with the “gentle” command.