If you know me, you know that I treat Spike like my son. I am obsessed with him and can’t wait to see him everyday. As I progress through my pregnancy, I assume Spike will do just fine with a new baby. But how can I really be sure? Introducing your pets and babies can be successful with a little preparation.
Fortunately, dogs are very intuitive and smart. You can teach them proper behavior around baby pretty quickly. But you can’t expect it to just happen on its own and there are some steps you can take to make the transition easier.
5 Steps for Introducing your Pets and Babies
- If you have an active dog breed, set clear boundaries. While you are still pregnant, make the nursery off-limits. As your pet learns he is not to go into the room, slowly start allowing him in, but on your terms. You tell him when it is ok to come in and when he needs to leave. This puts you in control of your baby’s sleep and play space.
- Before you bring home baby, make sure your dog is not full of energy. Since you will be spending a few days in the hospital, your pet will likely not get as much attention and exercise while you are gone. This can lead to an over-excited dog that is bouncing off the walls. Make sure he has had plenty of play time before coming home with baby. He should be in a docile mood and able to listen to your commands.
- Bring home a baby onesie or urine-soiled diaper before coming home. Dogs know smells and the second you walk in with your new bundle, they will smell him. There will be no surprise smells if you have previously brought home this scent. Make sure to teach your pet to gently sniff the items you bring home, not roughly take it as a play thing. This will let them associate that smell with calm and quiet.
- When bringing the new baby in, hold him in your arms and sit down next to your pet. Allow them to sniff the baby but from a safe distance. You should remain in control of how close he comes. Maintain the dominance in the situation so he knows that you are in control of the baby. You should also remain very calm in this moment. Dogs pick up on our emotions so if coming home with baby is chaotic and there is too much excitement, he will act the same way.
- Reward good behavior and don’t forget to keep your 4-legged friend well-exercised. Once baby comes home, you will suddenly have a new focus of attention. But don’t forget to maintain your pets routine and continue walks and playtime with them.