Helping Your Dog Adjust To A New Baby

by Nancy Boland

Greet your dog first

When you get home, your dog should be allowed to greet you without the baby present. Only after your dog has calmed down should someone come in and present the baby. It’s a good idea to take your dog on a long walk or activity before the introduction so they have the least possible amount of nervous energy in their systems. Upon entering, your dog will instantly know there is a new scent in the house. If you have already introduced the scent, it will be somewhat familiar. Your dog should be allowed to sniff the baby, but at a respectful distance. During this first meeting, do not bring the baby too close. Eventually, your dog can be allowed to get closer and closer to the baby. By doing this, you are teaching your dog to respect the baby.

Stay calm

If you’re nervous during the introduction, your pet will pick up on your uneasiness. Keep the environment as calm as possible–there shouldn’t be a lot of people around to begin with. Never shout at your dog if they get too close for comfort–you can be firm, but don’t raise your voice. This will frighten your dog and create a negative association with the baby.

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If your dog is behaving nicely around the new baby, be sure to point that good behaviour out. Offer plenty of praise through words and treats.

Don’t exclude your dog

It’s important to include your dog as much as possible when you’re around the baby and take that extra step to make it feel like he’s part of the family. Stick with your dog’s regular routines as much as possible, and be sure to spend one-on-one quality time with them each day. Your dog does not need toys or special attention to feel important; you simply need to maintain the routine, providing daily walks and consistent leadership.

Teach your baby

Once your child is in the exploratory state, it is important to supervise all interactions between him or her and your dog. This is a great opportunity to teach your child not to bother him, pull his tail and be gentle. These lessons on mutual respect cannot begin early enough. It’s common for unaware children to have inadvertently provoked an otherwise peaceful dog, simply because they have never been given proper instruction by a parent/guardian.

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