Introducing The New Baby To Your Dog

Adopting a puppy and having a child are two very similar things.  Both bring a new family member into your household and both come with major responsibilities.  Both babies and puppies must be fed, bathed, cleaned up after, trained to behave well and loved.  Both require much time, effort, money and affection.  When bringing a baby into your house, your pet can be very similar to a sibling in that he may feel deprived of attention or jealous.

Your dog is more than likely used to being the baby of the family, so bringing a human child into your home may be difficult, but the transition can be made much easier if preparations and adjustments are made. To begin with, you must be sure that your dog is trained months and months prior to the baby’s arrival.

Babies are very delicate and vulnerable beings and there should be no question in your mind about whether your dog will listen to your commands.  Your pet not listening can not only be annoying and a time or energy drain on you when you should be spending time and energy on the baby but it could also be potentially dangerous to your child.

Another tip is to begin weaning your dog from you.  Prior to the baby’s arrival, you may be spending plenty of time with your dog and the immediate drop in attention when the new baby comes may very well stress out your dog and cause behavioral problems for you to deal with.  What you must do prior to the new baby is to slowly get the dog used to spending less and less time with you.  Reduce the amount of attention you give to him slowly over time until he is comfortable functioning mostly by himself in the household (excepting, of course, walks, baths, feeding, etc).  Another good option is to have someone else in the household take up the most of the responsibilities of the dog as you progress in your pregnancy.  Making someone else the primary care giver to the dog will make him feel less lonely when the new mom has to spend less time on him and more time on the baby.

After the baby is born, but before he comes home, have a family member bring home a blanket or piece of clothing the baby has worn.  Allow the dog to smell the baby’s scent so that he can become accustomed to this new family member’s presence before meeting him.

After the baby is home, you may want to put your dog on his leash to meet the new family member so that you have physical control over your animal should anything happen or he react poorly to the baby. Do allow your dog to meet the baby, keep a watchful eye on him as he sniffs and gets to know the new little person.

Remember to include your dog in daily activities you do with your new child and reward and praise him when he is calm and well-behaved around the new baby.  This way he will associate the baby with good things and will begin to develop a positive bond with the new family member.

Mark Mansfield

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