How to Introduce a Dog to a Baby
Bringing home your new baby is an exciting time. It can also mean a lot of change for your dog. You can help your four-legged pal make a smooth adjustment with a little bit of planning and preparation. Discover the best ways dog owners can introduce a dog to a baby.
Why is Preparing Your Dog for a Baby Important?
Dogs and their owners have an incredibly close bond, and for some dogs, seeing their owners bring a new baby home can cause disruption in their life. It makes sense if you look at it from their perspective.
Suddenly there’s another human in the house—albeit one that’s much smaller—who sounds, smells and moves around differently than you do. While some dogs transition well to life with a baby, some may need more encouragement.
In situations where a new baby may be causing stress for your dog, that negative impression can have a lasting effect if steps aren’t taken to help the process move smoothly. The best course of action is to prepare your dog in the days leading up to your baby’s arrival at your home. Before introducing your dog to the new baby, it’s especially important to start making gradual changes before bringing your baby home.
5 Ways to Prepare a Pet for the Baby
“It’s best to make gradual changes in your pet’s routine rather than abrupt changes when the baby arrives,” explains Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, Purina Senior Scientist, Human/Animal Bond. Fortunately, pregnancy gives you several months to prepare your pet for baby’s arrival.
- Adjust your pet’s routine to one you can keep consistent, even after baby comes
- Carve out special one-on-one times with your pet
- Brush up on obedience training for your dog
- Create a few pet-free zones in your house
- Introduce your pet to baby equipment like strollers
Why Do Dogs Need to Adjust to Changes?
There are a few reasons dogs need more time to adjust to changes in your home. Dogs typically have a set routine. Likely, all of that will change once the baby arrives. A new routine, along with new sounds and smells could be upsetting to your dog. That’s why it’s essential to take the time to prepare your dog for a new baby.
Tips for Bringing a Baby Home
If the baby’s mother returns to the house alone, it “will give pets time to say hi without them jumping up on the baby,” McGowan says. You can bring items worn by the baby or a blanket to allow your dog to become familiar with the scent before introducing them.
After that, bring the baby inside to a pet-free room so your dog can smell and hear the sounds your baby makes.
“For dogs especially, it can be helpful to make introductions with a helper bringing the dog into a neutral room on a leash where you are sitting holding the baby,” McGowan explains. This gives your dog the opportunity to approach you and the baby calmly.
A New Baby is a New Experience for Your Dog
- Closely supervise interactions between your dog and baby and keep a very close eye on signs of discomfort or aggression from your dog.
- Reward your dog for calm behavior with praise and special treats.
- Give your dog plenty of attention when the baby is in the room. Your dog will associate positive experiences with the baby.
- Never leave your dog alone with the baby, no matter how easygoing or friendly your dog may be.
A well-planned, positive introduction will help your pet and new baby develop a deep and loving bond that can last a lifetime.
Get more insights on dogs and dog ownership from our pet experts on our Pet Expertise page.