So, you’re the proud parents of a beautiful bouncing baby dog, but wait, there’s a new addition on the way – you’re about to welcome a new baby into the family, and this time, it’s a human one!
For mum and dad, the process of introducing a new baby to the family dog can be a bit stressful. Sadly, sometimes the poor family dog gets ousted out in favour of the newer, human addition.
We totally understand your predicament. We’re all parents here; we know there’s nothing as special as the moment you bring your new bundle of joy home for the first time. We also know that if you’ve already got a bundle of fun, i.e. the family pet, there’s going to be a bit of concern, least of all jealousy. This is especially true if the pet is older and hasn’t previously been socialised with infants or small children.
Below are a few tips that we think may help.
While you’re still pregnant, try to act as if the baby is already here. Buy a lifelike doll, one that makes realistic baby noises, (Baby Born, Baby Annabel, you’ll get them at any good toy shop), and allow your dog get used to the sound of a crying baby. (This could also be good practice for mum and dad too). Also, put the ‘baby’ doll on your knee and hold it in your arms. This will show your dog that your lap is no longer for him alone.
Open up a few different baby products, leave them around the house and allow your dog to get used to the new smells.
Allow him to sniff some baby clothing, the new car seat, the baby blanket, baby wipes, nappies, nappy sacks, etc., Let him give them all a thorough inspection.
And, while we’re on the subject of inspection… when you have given birth to your baby, but are still at the hospital, have dad bring home a blanket and item of clothing that’s already been used by the baby. Allow your dog to sniff it. This will get him used to the baby’s unique scent.
Keep a close eye on your dog and watch for any new signs of insecurity, separation anxiety, discomfort or, most important, any signs of aggression. If in any doubt, speak to a trained professional as soon as possible. Check out our "new baby" dog training classes.
Teach your dog the basic and very important control commands when around the ‘baby’ doll. Commands such as “down,” “sit,” “leave it” and “heel.”
Before you bring your new baby home, make sure your dog has a clean bill of health. Take him to the vet for a check up and make sure he gets vaccinations and/or boosters. Also, a trip to the dog groomer won’t go a miss. Have any excess hair removed, have nails clipped and check for fleas or ear mites.
Also, get your pet spayed/neutered. It’s a simple procedure, it’s a routine procedure, it’s safe and best for your pet’s long term health and best you have it done now…before baby arrives and you haven’t got the time!
Also, in the final weeks before your baby arrives, try gradually decreasing the time you spend with your dog. This will get him used to not expecting as much attention from you when the new, peculiar smelling and noisy addition arrives. Instead, have dad give a bit more attention to the dog. This should minimize the changing of roles when the time comes. If your dog sleeps in your bedroom it may be the time to get them used to sleeping somewhere else before the baby comes home.
When you arrive home from hospital with your new addition, ask dad to carry the infant into the house. This will give your dog the chance to welcome you back home and, hopefully, avoid a negative first impression. It would be so easy, and understandable, for you to tell your dog to “get down,” if he jumped up onto you whilst holding the new baby. This would not make for a good first meeting.
This initial meeting should be positive and calm for your dog. You need to create a happy association from the beginning. However, do have a lead on your dog as a safety precaution.
Supervise, supervise, supervise…This is not Hollywood and all dogs are not like Lassie! Behaviour changes and dogs can become aggressive and jealous. All dogs have the potential to bite. Never, never, never…leave your dog alone with your baby. Always give both dog and baby your full, undivided attention.
Finally, a new baby is always exciting but don’t forget your pet. After all, you were his mum first you know. You were the centre of his world and now for a reason unknown to him he is not anymore. Spend a bit of quality time with him, even if it’s only a few minutes alone. A good rub and a belly scratch goes a long way to reassure him that you love him.