A new baby is fun, exciting, and stressful all at once, especially for the family dog.
Sadly, the addition of a new baby is a common reason for families to give their dogs up for adoption.
Some dogs may pose a biting risk, while others may constantly get into the baby’s things. Some families simply find it overwhelming to care for their dog while they’re attending to their new baby around the clock.
Use these tips to help your dog adjust to your new baby so you can keep your family together and set up your kids, both furry and human, for a lifetime of friendship.
Before Your Baby Arrives
If your baby is still on the way, you can get your dog used to the sights, sounds, and smells of a baby by having friends with children come to visit you.
It’s not necessary for your dog to interact with visiting babies and children. Socialization does not mean forced interactions. Instead, focus on making sure your dog does not find kids overly interesting or scary.
You can also try playing baby sound effects on YouTube to help desensitize your dog before the baby comes.
Some relaxed playtime, a stuffed Kong, or a long-lasting chew treat can keep your dog calm when they’re surrounded by unusual sounds and smells.
Setting Boundaries Between Your Baby And Your Dog
Though babies who grow up with dogs have stronger immune systems and are less likely to develop colds, ear infections, asthma and allergies, you may still need to limit contact during the first few months of your baby’s life. Ask your pediatrician how much contact you can safely allow between your baby and your dog.
Before your baby is born, you can carry around a doll in your arms, in a carrier and in a stroller to help your dog learn boundaries. You’ll need to train your dog not to jump to keep them from licking the baby or scratching them with their paws.
Management tools like baby gates, crates, and a securely lidded garbage can will all come in handy from the time the baby comes home until your baby is a toddler.
Setting Up Your Kids For A Lifetime Of Friendship
No matter how sweet your dog is, you should not allow your baby and your dog to spend time alone together. They should not be unsupervised, even momentarily, until you’re absolutely sure that your child has learned to respect your dog.
When your kid is old enough, teach them to leave the dog alone while they’re sleeping or eating, and to play safely using soft toys. They should know how to pet your dog in ways that they enjoy, and to never hit the dog or pull at their ears or tail. Your child should never sit on your dog’s back, even for brief photo ops.
Ask For Help
As a new parent, you’ll discover that you need your family and friends more than ever. Not only will you need an occasional break from the baby, you’ll also need help making sure your dog gets love, playtime, and walks.
It’s okay to ask close friends and family to give your dog some love, too. You can also hire a dog walker to take your dog out, or put them in doggy daycare, even if it’s just for a few days each week.
Positive training is essential when helping your dog adjust to your new baby.
As you set up boundaries, such as teaching your dog to stay out of the baby’s room, you’ll want to make sure lessons are taught in a fun, positive way. You want your dog to associate the baby with positive experiences, rather than thinking, “every time I see the baby, I get in trouble!”
Get in touch with Healthy Houndz for positive training in Toronto and North York.