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The Hood Magazine

Doggie Introductions: Introducing Your New Baby to Your Dog

Mar 31, 2022 07:11AM ● By The Hood Magazine
By: Pet Pals, Professional Pet Services

Having a baby come into the home can send your dog into a “what is going on?” frenzi'' complete with anxiety, poop and potty accidents, destructive behavior, and/or even the dreaded bite! This is especially so if your dog has been the “only child” or in the case of multiple dogs, if the new baby is the first human child. The range of experiences and possibilities is truly endless. However, you can have the protected baby that needs your focus and the amazing dog you’re used to at the same time and in the same house. 

This amazing human time is a dog nightmare for so many reasons. With that new bundle of joy, routines become out of whack and your dogs get confused. Attention patterns change.  Smells change. Energy levels and moods change.  There’s less patience, awareness, and ability to understand what your dog is trying to communicate to you. And the more communication breaks down and your dog loses confidence in the new environment, the higher the risk of unwanted and undesirable behaviors.

Still, a few things can minimize all of this.  For example, the first and probably the most important step is to build a foundation. A few months before your baby’s due date, start introducing new routines to your dog so they can get used to them. If your dog rides in the car with you, then adding the car seat well in advance to get your dog acclimated first to the seat and understanding if they should sit there, go by it, or stay can completely change your first few car rides with both baby and dog. Same for strollers, swings, playpens, and so much more.  

Strollers, high chairs, diapers, and car seats are all foreign to your dog's world and can cause anxiety without the baby. So bring those out into your house prior to the baby coming.
Let your dog get used to them and your expectations of them all now while you can focus on communicating in the way your dog needs. You can teach your dog to sniff from a distance or interact or not interact with these things as you’d like much easier prior to the baby in the house. 

Likewise, anticipate a new walk time, feeding time, potty time and playtime for your dog. The earlier you can start to get your dog used to a new schedule, new rules, etc, the better.  And it’s not just new schedules. When you think about feeding times, diaper changes, bath time, rest for you at any moment you can get it, ect for your baby, this will also equate to less time for your dog. 

The baby is going to take away time and focus from your dog. Start weaning time away from your dog before the baby arrives and while you can focus on doing so in their language. For example, the “place” (or equivalent) command, if they don’t already have one, can make a world of difference when the baby comes home. Having your dog learn to “place” will give your dog confidence and a reassuring place to be at any given time and for any reason. It will give them something to focus on and know what to do at a moment's notice, while at the same time removing them from a situation where they are not needed or shouldn’t be. Think through what you expect your dog to do based on what you plan to do when the baby arrives and start training them before the baby arrives.

Another critical step to be sure not to forget comes after the baby is born and before you bring the baby home. Which is also one of the easiest steps to forget, because who's thinking of your dog at that point other than your Pet Pal? When the baby is born, have someone bring home a blanket or clothes that the baby has used or even soiled diapers to smell beforehand. These items will have your scent and baby scent on and will allow for sniffing time prior to the baby coming home.  Put these things where the baby will be. In carseats, strollers, etc. so your dog(s) can get used to where the smells will be and these things with the smells, but without the baby.  And of course, reinforce the new rules you set ahead of time for those new objects that now have the new smells!

A great thing to do when you come home with the baby is for each person in the family to come in the door first without the baby. Give your dog(s) a chance to smell the family members with the new baby scent, a chance for your dog(s) to work through your heightened emotions, and to get past their excitement of everyone being back home. Then bring the baby into a calm and controlled environment where the only thing new to the dog is the baby.

With the above tips, your dog can feel at ease and confident instead of forgotten.