How to Introduce your Dog to Your New Baby
You have picked the color of the room, carefully arranged the furniture around to make it child friendly, you have bought a large supply of diapers and baby food, but once you bring the new baby home and Rover greets him with a growl, you have realized you have missed one very important step: preparing your dog to accept a newborn baby.
Dogs are pack animals, they like to spend their lives with their fellow pack members. At the top of the pack structure is the alpha figure, the most important figure that in the wild is represented by the leader wolf, lower down the rank is the beta figure, and finally follow several other members that play less important roles. Today, in modern lives, the alpha figure is replaced by the owners, respected figures that provide guidance and leadership. Dogs therefore are used to stability and a certain type of structure,, they basically know how the pack is composed and therefore, they may not enthusiastically welcome new pack members within their circle.
It is ultimately up to the owners to prepare a dog to accept a new pack member into their family. This should ideally done very gradually so to set up the dog for success. The introduction should preferably start even before the baby is introduced to the home. Following are some helpful tips for training pets to accept a new born baby.
Tips for Training Dogs to Accept a New Born Baby
While many pets may accept your baby without major problems, dogs usually need more attention because of the way they perceive pack structures and because of their size and potential to cause harm to the baby. The below tips may apply to most pets however, they are mostly targeted towards canines.
Before the Baby is Home
Weeks prior your baby is born, record the noise of a baby crying and expose your pet frequently to it during the day. Perform actions that will be consistent once the baby is born. For instance, teach your dog to walk next to a stroller, let him see you cradle a doll, put in motion the baby's swing etc.
-Bring the Baby's scent in the Home
Owners may start the training process with some advantage, if they are able to take home something that smells like the baby even before the baby is taken home. This way the pet learns to get used to the smell and once the baby is home they may think:'' Hey, I already know you!''.
-Refresh the Commands
If you own a dog make sure he knows well his commands. This means you should be able to control your dog with important commands such as sit, stay, lay down etc. If your dog is not obedience trained consider having a dog trainer teach him the basics. Giving commands will give the power of keeping your dog under control while reconfirming in your dog's mind that you are the ultimate pack leader.
-Adjust Routines and Habits
If you usually feed your pet at a certain time and feel like the time may need to be rearranged once the baby is home, try to get your pet used to this routine a few weeks prior so to avoid too much changes all at once and stress.Think as well of altering habits. If your dog was always used to jump on the couch, know you must change this routine and make the couch off limits since the baby may spend alot of time there soon. Also teach your pet that the baby room will be off limits some weeks in advance.
If you feel like once the baby is home you may not have enough time to give attention to your dog, try to decrease the attention you give your dog in the weeks prior the baby arrives. This way the dog will not feel like it is because of the baby he is not getting the attention as before. This however, does not mean to ignore your dog, but rather to stop fussing as you would normally do.
-After the Baby is Home
You do not want to expose your pet to the baby right away. Install instead a temporary baby gate if feasible, so your pet gets used to the baby's smell and noises. Give your pet some time to get adjusted, the more time you give your pet, generally the better.
-Don't Forget About your Dog
You may be extremely busy taking care of the baby, but at the same time you must also provide attention to your dog otherwise he will feel cut out of the picture. Cut out some minutes of your time to dedicate completely to your dog. Your dog will appreciate it and feel recognized so not to feel harsh feelings.
As seen, there are several things that can be done to better prepare your pet to accept a new born baby. If you take good care in getting the introduction happen gradually rather than rushing it , you will heighten your chances for success. However, if you own a dog, it is highly advisable to never leave your dog and the baby together unattended regardless of how docile your dog is, the risks at stake are too high.