When you’re nearing the beautiful end of your pregnancy, the last thing you should worry about is how the family pet will react to your bouncing bundle of joy. Though many dogs get along just fine with babies, they may need some gentle introductions to ensure that they don’t play too rough with your newborn. Before your due date arrives and you head off to the hospital, make sure to read these tips for introducing your dog to your baby to sweeten the first meeting when you return.
Begin Introducing Baby Supplies and Furniture Before the Baby Arrives
If you cut your dog off from everything in the nursery, they can’t get used to the sights and smells that come with a newborn. As you fill up your nursery with furniture and supplies, let your dog sniff around and acclimate to some of the items associated with the newest member of your family. Keep the supplies and toys out of reach of your dog, but don’t restrict their access to the nursery if you don’t have to—the introduction of a restricted area may only build intrigue and cause hyperactivity once they’re allowed in the room.
Find Somewhere for Your Dog To Stay While You’re at the Hospital
A home without you may not be a home at all to your dog. For practical reasons, consider finding someone to care for your dog while you’re away—whether it’s a friend or family member. You can also board your dog at a boarding facility. You may want a day without your canine companion at home to allow for time to fully recuperate after an exhausting visit to the hospital.
When you bring your dog back home, try to wear them out before taking them inside. If you leave them at a dog boarder, pick them up after they’ve had time to play with other dogs for the day. You may want to choose a boarding service that you trust. A sleepy, worn-out dog is less likely to show excitement around new things, making it easier to introduce the baby.
Take It Slow and Give Rewards for Good Interactions
Your dog may be a natural caretaker or a bit apprehensive around the new family addition. One tip for introducing your dog to your baby is to make the introduction as slow as possible. Try to start outside of the nursery and allow the dog to sniff around before noticing the baby. Let them sniff a blanket that the baby has been wrapped in so that they can get familiar with all the new smells. You may not need to leash the dog, but you do need to stay close.
Hold the baby during the dog’s first meeting. Start by allowing the pup to sniff the newborn’s feet. After this, give them a treat to reward good behavior. Avoid scolding, as the negative interaction can ruin the association the dog has with the baby.
No matter how much you love and trust your dog, when you introduce your dog to your baby, always be prepared for unpredictable behavior. Sometimes a baby’s crying can cause stress on your dog, which may cause them to act out. And big dogs are often unaware of just how big they are, so even good intentions can be dangerous around tiny babies. Eventually, and with the right amount of patience, they will grow to become the best of friends.
Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and mental health help create thought provoking and engaging pieces and hopes to use them to empower mothers and women to embrace the beauty of motherhood.