Big Dog and Small Baby

The joy, fear, and anticipation of bringing home a new baby is a lot for any person to handle. In fact, it is a lot for a dog to handle, too. New smells and sounds are all around and can be a big adjustment to everyone in the home.

Here are a few tips to get your pup ready for your family’s new addition before baby arrives:

Physical changes

Make physical changes as soon as possible. Setting up the crib, rocking chair, etc allow your dog to adjust to these new items over time, making them less of a shock when baby does come home. Try taking your dog for a walk with an empty stroller or begin using baby powder and lotion so your pup gets used to the smell. Encourage your dog to explore, smell, and interact with these new items.

Audible changes

Some of the biggest adjustments can come in the form of sound. From crying to screaming and all the little laughs in between, new baby sounds are both precious and startling for parents and pups. To get ready, invite friends with babies and young kids over to the house. Or, take your pup to a playground and let them watch the kids play. You can even buy CDs or download sounds of babies cooing and crying to practice.

Establish independence

Dogs are very loyal creatures and many love spending as much time as possible with their humans. Begin spending less time with your dog so that they establish independence. If there are other family members in the house, encourage them to hang out with your dog to establish a better connection. You can even bring them to places like doggie daycare to not only adjust them to their new independent mindset, but also to let them play so they are more tired at night.

Once the big day comes, try these tips for when you bring baby home:

Prepare their interaction

If at all possible, send your baby’s blanket home to meet your pup so that they can get used to and anticipate the smell when baby comes home.

Have a family member take your dog for a walk before baby arrives to make sure they have released any pent-up energy.

Stay calm and in charge

Once the big moment finally arrives, make sure your dog is calm and not jumping around. Sit on the floor with your newborn and slowly allow the interaction to take place. Don’t force your dog and baby to meet, instead let your dog come over at his or her own pace – be sure to give your pup treats to associate positive outcomes with baby.

Have a third party standing by so they can intervene if the situation warrants it. You can be firm but try to stay positive and not punish your pup so they do not associate punishment with your newborn.

Supervise interactions

If all goes to plan, your pup will soon decide your baby is part of the family and will accept them as a part of the pack. Even if your pup and baby bond quickly, never leave them together unattended. Likewise, while your baby grows and adjusts to life in this world, avoid letting your dog lick your baby to prevent the spread of germs.

If you have serious concerns about your dog and how they may or do react to your baby, consult a canine behaviorist immediately.