Introducing your Dog and New Baby
The air is filled with joy and excitement; you’ve been planning, organizing, nesting and your bundle of joy is almost here. The anxiety is starting to build… what if they don’t get along? How is the dog going to react to the new addition to the family?
What if your pet starts to resent the baby that’s getting all of your attention. We love our pets, but it’s easy to forget that they were the first member of your family and still require just as much love and attention as they’ve always had.
We have put together a list of tips to help your pet adjust to the transition of bringing home your new family member.
Adequate Training – Is your Dog Baby Ready?
A good start to introducing your baby to your dog is to ensure that they themselves have been properly trained. This will help to keep your dog’s anxiety levels down while also aiding in the transition process. You will really appreciate your dog if he can begin to listen better and follow simple commands.
If your dog is already well behaved it may still be beneficial to attend an obedience class specifically designed to help introduce your dog to the new baby. Check out the “Old Pet, New Baby” class at the Calgary Humane Society.
Introducing a New Routine
Most dogs respond to changes in their routine through an increase in their anxiety level. This can cause all sorts of problems for you and your dog. Although your dog’s routine is going to inevitably be altered it’s important to minimize your dog’s stress by gradually altering their routine in advance.
If you are able to anticipate your new routine, it’s a good idea to start and slowly transition into it as early as possible. These changes could be as simple as their walking and feeding schedules.
Additionally, you can prepare your dog for an unpredictable schedule by varying their routine. As we all know life with a new baby can be the most unpredictable schedule you will ever encounter, so try and prepare your dog for this type of lifestyle.
Try to alter your sleeping schedule to get your dog used to your baby’s anticipated feedings. Getting up in the middle of the night even before the baby is born will help to keep them calm and quiet during those first few weeks when you are feeding around the clock.
If your dog isn’t used to having company, try having a few people over periodically before the baby is born to help them adjust in an influx of visitors. You should also try and resist the temptation to shower your dog with extra attention in the weeks before the baby is due. This will only set your furry friend up for disappointment when the attention level drops.
Lastly, if you are going to initiate some new rules and/or boundaries for your pet, make sure to institute these new rules in advance. The last thing you want is to be training your dog while trying to care for your newborn at the same time.
Coming Home from the Hospital
While we all pray for a quick uncomplicated birth, your baby may have other plans. Make sure to make arrangements for your dog for any circumstance or length of stay while you are at the hospital.
Upon your anticipated arrival it’s helpful for one of you (and by that I mean the Daddy) to come home a little earlier and take your dog for a long walk. They may not have seen you in a while and this will help to drain them physically and help them to remain calm when the baby comes home. Make sure that you allow your dog time to get used to your new family member. A Slow introduction will help to ease the transition for your pet.
One of the most important tips we can give you is to bring a very important item home from the hospital for your dog and before the baby arrives. When a baby is born they release pheromones from the top of their head that helps with the bonding process. Make sure that the hat your baby wears in those first few days comes home with you from the hospital. Give this to your dog before you bring the baby home, not only to familiarize themselves with the baby’s scent but so they can breathe in the same “love” hormones that bonded you with your infant.
Controlling Your Anxiety
All dogs can pick up on anxiety and nervousness. You want to remain calm while introducing your bundle of joy to the new baby. This will not only prevent aggression but avoiding elevated anxiety and stress levels will keep your pet from acting out. If your pet begins to act out there’s no telling where that could lead; do you really want to be cleaning up pee and feces from two different sources?
Elevated anxiety in your pet can lead to prolonged debilitations as well as personality changes. By following the tips provided will help you to learn to not only control any anxiety or stress you feel about introducing the new baby to your beloved pet, but prevent them altogether.
Pay Attention to Your Dog
No amount of new toys or extra attention is going to keep your dog happy. They respond to routine and consistent leadership. Maintaining their daily lives will help them to feel secure and allow them to relax into the new environment. As mentioned earlier if you can adjust your dog to a new routine early on, then they won’t be as unnerved by the new living arrangements.
Breed is only Skin Deep
Don’t assume that your dog’s breed is in any way significant to how they will treat your new baby. Sure there have been incidences of babies being bitten by Rottweilers, Dobermans and Pitt Bulls, but there are also documented cases of babies being injured by Chihuahuas, Dalmatians, and Labs. The key is leadership; if you can control your dog at all times and in all situations then they shouldn’t pose a threat.
Teaching Your Baby
Once your baby is able to explore make sure that you are supervising his/her interactions with your dog. It’s never too early to teach your child how to respect your dog. Lessons advising your baby not to pull on his tail or bother the dog while he’s sleeping or otherwise engaged will help to avoid aggressive behavior.
Safety Comes First
Finally, in the extreme situation if you are not 100% confident that your dog is safe to have around your baby, look into providing your beloved pet with a new and loving family. It is a step that no one wants to take so make sure that it is absolutely necessary and the only option left.
Rehoming a pet should never be the first option for a pet owner in any situation, so take the time and effort to introduce your two loved ones in a safe and respectful manner.