The time to begin preparing your dog for their new playmate begins long before bringing your baby home from the hospital. Here are a few simple tips to help make baby’s arrival in your dog’s life a smooth transition.
Before you bring baby home
Spend time during pregnancy working with your dog to eliminate bad habits such as jumping up on people, frequent barking, or nipping at people. If you aren’t successful, consider hiring a professional dog trainer.
Set boundaries for your dog. Begin with a nursery that is off limits. Allow your dog to enter the room only under your supervision. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that you bring home clothing or a blanket with your baby’s scent on it before you bring your baby home. Cesar Millan, dog trainer and author of the New York Times bestseller Cesar’s Way, says that you should hold the scented item and challenge the dog to sniff from a distance to demonstrate your ownership of the baby.
Introducing your baby to your dog for the first time
- Exercise your dog before the introduction to get rid of excess canine energy and nerves.
- In the Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training, Steven Lindsay advises that a new mother should enter the house without the baby first to dispel any over-excitement the dog may have about her arrival.
- Remain calm and keep energy levels low. Millan recommends allowing your dog to sniff baby from a respectful distance. Over time you can decrease the distance, letting your dog get closer to the baby.
- As time passes, teach your child respect for your dog in the same way you have taught your dog to respect your baby. Do not allow your child to interrupt your dog when being fed or to hit and pull on the dog.
- Never leave your baby and dog unsupervised. Even if your dog is adjusting well and shows no signs of aggression, supervision will ensure no accidents occur.
- Begin setting limits for your dog during pregnancy.
- Bring a blanket with your baby’s scent home before bringing your baby home.
- Remain calm when you introduce your dog and baby. Your dog will pick up on your energy levels.