Welcoming a new baby to the family is a stressful time for everyone. Emotions run high during this time and there are many adjustments that need to be made in and around the house. So of course this may also mean a shift in Fluffy’s behavior.
Fluffy came into your home as your very first child; he has seen the best and the worst of you and everything he has learned was because of you. This also means that he plays off your emotions and behavior, so when something big is happening there simply is no way of hiding it from your favorite four-legged companion.
So how do you prepare your beloved dog for the introduction of a new baby?
It takes time and effort to prepare your dog for this very important introduction. You definitely cannot expect to leave this vital task for last minute, so let’s take a look at how to go about this.
Once you find out you are expecting, you should start the process of preparing your pet. Start by changing his schedule to one that’s more baby friendly and also take note of how much attention you give your dog. Always remember that once the baby arrives, whether you want to or not you will be paying less attention to Fluffy. You want to start implementing that slowly to avoid your dog associating the baby with the sudden lack of attention.
You also want to set up clear boundaries for your dog such as not being allowed in the nursery and not jumping up on people. Another good idea is to buy a baby doll which you can wrap in a blanket with the scent of some baby products such as lotion or powder. Treat the baby doll as you would a real baby and allow your dog to sniff at the doll from a safe distance. This will help familiarize your dog to the smell of the future new arrival and will help establish boundaries. Set up the crib, play pen and jumper and place the doll inside, allow Fluffy to get close enough to get familiar with the new fixtures but also be firm with how close he can get.
When it’s finally time to head to the hospital and bring a new life into this world, make sure that all arrangements have been made for Fluffy’s care while you are away. When the baby is born, send an item that has their scent home so that your dog can fully familiarize himself with the new member of the family. This way, when the baby comes home it doesn’t feel like a complete stranger is coming through the door.
The final step is bringing the baby home from the hospital. As the mommy who just gave birth and was away for a few days, you should go in to greet Fluffy first without baby. Make sure he gets all his excitement out before you introduce the baby. Allow him to sniff the baby from a distance then bring the baby closer if he stays calm enough. Regardless of how calm Fluffy may seem, have him on a leash for the first few meetings to avoid accidents. And most importantly, never leave your little one unsupervised with your fur baby.
Always remember that breed does not determine whether or not a dog will bite. Sudden movements or high pitched sounds can cause any breed to feel irritated or threatened which may result in aggressive behavior.
Should none of these methods work, you might want to consider bringing in a dog trainer to assist, but always choose to play it safe when it comes to a newborn and a pet.
Article by Zerelda Daniels