If you’ve got a little one on the way, you probably have an endless list of things to do to prepare for your new arrival. From stocking up on supplies to baby-proofing the house, you’ll want to make sure everything is prepared for your baby to come home happily and safely.
If you have a dog, it’s important to introduce them to your new baby in a safe and controlled way. We’ve put together our top 5 tips to make sure that both baby and dog are happy, safe and will grow up to be the best of friends! Read on to find out more.
Let your dog get used to baby’s smell
Dogs are incredibly intuitive, and will understand that something is going on long before you bring your baby home. Before mum and baby return home, it’s important to introduce your dog to the baby’s smell, so they understand that there will be a new addition to the household. A used babygro or blanket is a great way to do this. Allow your dog to sniff from a distance to get them accustomed to the new smell.
Once baby is home, allow your dog to sniff the baby from a distance, always making sure an adult is between the baby and the dog. When the dog is a little more used to the baby, allow them to come closer. Always remember not to leave your dog and baby together unattended, and supervise any interaction closely.
Set clear boundaries
Even before your new addition comes home, it’s important to set clear boundaries with your dog and ensure that they are well trained. Simple commands, such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘leave it’ should be second nature to your dog, and can be reinforced by practising with treats. Another useful command is telling your dog to go to a specific spot - such as ‘go to your bed’ - which will come in handy if your dog is getting underfoot.
Another key boundary to set is around the baby’s room. Leave plenty of time to train your pooch to not go in the baby’s room without permission, to ensure that your baby stays safe whilst asleep. If you have a particularly inquisitive dog, consider adding a baby gate to the baby’s room for an added level of security.
Keep your dog’s usual routine
When you first bring your baby home, it can be difficult to give your pooch as much attention as they’re used to. If your dog isn’t feeling loved, this can lead to them becoming sad and lethargic, or jealous of the baby. Signs your dog is jealous of the baby can include growling or barking, acting out, for example, stealing the baby’s toys, or going to the toilet in the house rather than outside.
Although it’s likely your dog won’t get as spoilt as usual, at least for the first few weeks after bringing baby home, it’s important to try and maintain your dog’s usual routine. This includes feeding times and regular daily walks. This will help to make sure that your pooch feels loved and helps to burn off any excess energy, so they’re calm and content around the baby.
Give your dog a baby-free ‘safe place’
Babies are noisy creatures and their crying, erratic movements and smells can be overwhelming for even the most docile of dogs. A great way to keep your dog happy is by making a baby-free zone that they can escape to if things get a little too much. This could be a specific room of the house that has a comfy bed and some of their favourite toys, or a cage tucked away in a quiet corner. This will help to keep your pooch calm and happy, and will reduce the likelihood of any aggression or jealousy towards your baby.
Always be positive
No matter how well you prepare your pooch, dog behaviour with a new baby can be unpredictable, from stealing baby toys to waking up the baby by barking. Juggling the demands of a newborn and a dog can be stressful. It’s important, however, to not make your dog associate the baby with negative feelings, or being told off. Instead of scolding your pooch, redirect their attention to a toy or trick, and try to use a happy tone of voice. This will help your dog to associate the baby with positive feelings, reducing any jealousy or unhappiness in the future.
These simple tips will help you to introduce your fur baby to your new family member, and make sure they both stay safe and happy. To show your dog a little extra love during this transition, consider adding a supplement such as SuperDog to their daily routine, to help keep them healthy and happy.