How to Introduce Your Dog to a New BabyFamilyPet
If you look at it from your rescue dog’s point of view, a baby is not a good thing. It makes a lot of strange sounds. It occasionally smells pretty awful. Worse yet, it steals all of his mom and dad’s attention. If you are planning your first pregnancy or are already pregnant for the first time, and you are unsure of your rescue pup’s history with children, the time to get him used to your expected new arrival is now.
Photo by Flickr user Pietro Zanarini
Start Prepping Early
Although some women start training their dogs the minute they start trying to have a baby, other more superstitious folks prefer to wait until they are sure they are pregnant. If you are in the latter category, use a delivery date calculator to see when you expect your baby will be born and then figure out a schedule for getting your rescue dog ready for the baby’s arrival. For example, you may want to enroll your dog in an obedience class early in your pregnancy and then schedule an “introducing your dog to a baby” course as your due date nears.
Bring Your Dog Around Children
If your rescue dog hasn’t spent much time around children till now, start taking him into more situations where you know little ones will be. It is extremely important, however, to supervise your dog carefully during these introductions. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, you need to observe your dog for any signs that the children might be distressing or overstimulating him. Some dogs, especially smaller ones, can get frightened by the often fast and unpredictable movements of kids and might react by nipping. Other dogs accidentally hurt children because they are too eager to play with them. Either way, as soon as your dog makes a movement that could hurt a child, reprimand him sharply so that he knows his actions are inappropriate. Remember to use the same command every time.
Introduce Your Dog to Baby Sounds
Author and veterinarian Dr. Lewis Kirkham has written a book called “Tell Your Dog You’re Pregnant: An Essential Guide for Dog Owners Who Are Expecting a Baby.” This book not only contains a lot of useful information that will help you prepare your dog to meet its new sibling, it also includes free downloadable soundtracks that will introduce him to the strange sounds that babies can make.
Begin Limiting Your Dog’s Territory Now
If your rescue dog currently has the run of your house, including your bed, the time to begin limiting its range is now. Unfortunately, if you wait until after the baby is born, the dog could negatively associate the baby with the unwanted changes in his life. According to well-known trainer Cesar Millan, too many changes surrounding the arrival of a baby can also create separation anxiety in a dog, which could in turn, result in negative or destructive behavior.
Before you bring your new bundle of joy home, have someone take something that has your baby’s scent on it to your house so that your dog can get familiar with the infant’s odor. You may even want to wrap a doll in a blanket that has your baby’s scent in it and introduce it carefully to your dog, reprimanding it if it tries to bite or play with it.
Eric has three loves: his kids, his dog and restoring classic cars. Eric is a business analyst by day and auto junkie/freelance writer by night.