For many of us, when we get our pets we have no intention of having our own non-furry babies at some point in the future, but understandably, things change over time and many pet parents find themselves facing the reality of having to introduce their much loved pet to a new human addition!
Dogs often form very strong bonds with the children that they live with, and your dog may indeed become very caring and protective over your child-but when your little one is tiny and just back home for the first time, how you manage the introductions between baby and dog are really important.
Getting things right for the first introduction between dog and baby can help to set the tone for their future together, and it is important to avoid any foreseeable problems with the first meeting that might make it harder for your dog and baby to bond later on. It is also of course really important to keep your baby safe when around your dog, especially because you will not be able to predict how your dog will react to the presence of the newcomer.
Additionally, how you yourself tackle the meeting and how you feel about it will rub off on your dog-so if you are nervous, wary or stressed about it, your dog will pick up on this too, and this will not help at all.
In this article, we will share seven tips and tricks for introducing your dog to your new baby for the first time, as well as some do’s and don’ts to make the first meeting go smoothly. Read on to learn more.
When you have a new baby on the way, the chances are that things are going to change significantly in your home. As well as of course the physical changes pregnancy brings, you will also likely be making adjustments to your home itself, to baby-proof things and equip a nursery and do everything else you will need to do!
This is all unavoidable, but it is important that during this time that you try to keep your dog on an even keel and minimise the disruption that they face-such as ensuring that they get plenty of attention, and can rely upon being walked and fed at the usual times.
Additionally, make provision for your dog for when you leave to go and have the baby-or if you are having your baby at home, make sure that you have someone that can look after or supervise your dog during this time.
The most powerful sense for the dog is of course the sense of smell, and this powerful sense of smell means that your dog will know something is changing before you even have your baby, as your dog will be able to sniff the minute changes in your body chemistry!
Before you bring the baby home for the first time (or approach your dog with them) it can be really helpful to get your dog used to the unique scents that accompany the baby, including their own scent and that of the various creams, lotions and accessories that they need!
Use a blanket that the baby has been in contact with that you do not intend to use again to allow your dog to familiarise themselves with the smell, and this will help your dog to get to grips with the otherwise alien scent that the baby brings with them, and make the first introduction rather easier.
Even the easiest and quietest of babies will be rather noisy compared to no baby at all-crying, yelling and giggling are all sounds that will seem rather alien to your dog, and that will take them some time to get used to.
Download or record the sounds of a baby making all of the usual baby noises, and play it at home for your dog in the run-up to the birth and the baby coming home. While you might want to take the chance to appreciate the last of the peace and quiet, this too will help your dog to take things in their stride.
Whilst babies are actually more robust than they appear and need to be exposed to dirt and grime in order to build up their immune systems, you should try to ensure that your dog is as clean as possible when they first meet.
This may mean groomed and brushed or even bathed, and also, ensure that your dog’s claws are not overly long, so that if they get too close, they do not scratch the baby.
Your baby should be calm and happy (or asleep!) when you introduce the dog for the first time-not grizzling, crying or kicking and fidgeting a lot! Your dog too should be in the right frame of mind-not full of beans or wound up, and in a relaxed, happy frame of mind.
However, you should try to introduce your dog to the baby as soon as possible after you bring the baby home, in order to begin to set the tone for their future life together.
When you introduce your fur-baby and your human baby, your dog should be on a lead and well under control, so that they cannot jump up or otherwise get too close to the baby. If things are going well, it is fine to let the dog sniff the baby up close-although avoid letting them lick the baby of course-but you should keep a close eye on your dog’s reactions and be ready to pull them back, and remain in control at all times.
Give your dog plenty of encouragement and attention at this time too-and never, ever push them into approaching the baby-give them plenty of space to retreat if they wish to.
Supervision is the key to keeping baby-dog interaction safe and happy, and this needs to continue well past the first meeting. You should never leave your baby and your dog together unsupervised, nor of course let the dog sleep with the baby or approach them on their own.