DOGS AND NEWBORNS
INTRODUCING YOUR NEW BABY TO THE FAMILY PET
Whether you’re having your first child or your third, properly introducing a new baby to your dog is very important.
Before bringing home your first baby, your dog might have been treated as the only child all its life and will not immediately understand what’s going on.
There is no reason to panic and drop your dog off at the RSPCA, however.
You can prepare your dog for the big day in advance and you can control the eventual introduction, paving the way for a lifelong friendship between your child and your dog.
In the nine months following the good news, you and your partner have to focus on teaching your dog basic commands and manners (if your pooch isn’t already well trained).
Smooth out any undesirable habits, establish ground rules, and make sure your dog will listen to you if you give it a command.
Start introducing your dog to baby items, like a stroller or bassinet.
This way, your dog will be used to these alien items long before your baby uses them (and will not associate the initial negative feelings with your baby).
If possible, and while spending some recovery time with your newborn, have a family member take a used baby blanket or item of clothing home, for your dog to sniff.
Once the baby is home, your dog will be surrounded by new sights, smells and sounds – limit the unfamiliarity as much as possible by introducing your dog to your baby’s scent before coming home for the first time.
When you arrive, let your partner enter your home first and greet the dog as normal.
Your pooch will have missed you and will need to expend some excited energy before meeting the baby.
Swap places with your partner and greet your dog while your partner waits outside with bub.
Leash your dog, even if you have no reason to expect a negative reaction (it will give you more control over the situation).
Only then, bring the baby in to meet his / her “fur sibling”.
Remain calm and let your dog sniff the baby’s feet and hands, re-familiarising itself with the baby’s smell (avoid immediate face-to-face contact).
From here, use your learned commands to control every interaction between your baby and your dog, like making it “sit” or “go”.
As time goes on, teach your child how to handle the dog and foster a respectful two-way relationship, ensuring they’ll be BFFS for life.