Bringing home a newborn is just as new to you as it is to your dog. Having every family member prepared for baby’s arrival helps them to transition better. This includes preparing your dogs. Many pets are not used to sharing their time with anyone but you. So, let’s prepare your furbabies!
Before baby is born
Start several months before baby is born to begin adjusting your dog. If they are gentle and easy going, a few steps will go a long way. If you’re still having any difficulties, we recommend talking to an obedience trainer. They will be able to give you more alternatives to help you succeed!
Getting your pet used to baby noises and smells
Start unpackaging baby items; clothing, toys, carseat etc. Have these items around your house so your pet gets used to having new items around.
Use baby care items on yourself. Rub lotions, powders or oils on yourself that you will be using with the baby.
Randomly play baby cries, screams, coos etc. Play these sounds at random to help your pet get used to these new and different sounds.
Adjusting your pet to new changes
After unpacking baby items, watch your dog. If they want to sit on something, redirect them. Help them identify baby toys and their toys. If they try to chew or play with a baby toy, take the toy away and give them their own toy. When your dog does the correct thing remember to reward them.
When they hear the new sounds and cries, they may get scared, worried, or anxious. Quietly calm them and reassure them that it will be okay. If needed, have them lay in their bed area and give them a treat when they comply.
Wash a baby blanket with baby detergent. You could also add a baby product to give more scent. Show this blanket to your dog. Let them smell it. As they’re smelling it make sure to pet and comfort them. Afterwards, give them a treat. If your dog tries to grab the blanket, tell them a command like, “No” or “Easy/careful” and gently remove the blanket from in front of them. Wait a few minutes then try again.
Get a baby doll and swaddle it to resemble a baby. Have a seat and have your dog sit near. Show them the “baby.” Tell them to be “easy/careful.” If they comply, give them a treat. If not, give them a command to stop and have them go to their bed. Wait and try again later. You may also place baby doll on the floor with baby toys and a blanket. Show your dog where they may sit or lay near baby. Give them boundaries that you feel comfortable with. Always supervise your pet to see what they are feeling and how they’re going to react.
New things for your dog
If your dog likes to jump on you or the furniture, start early teaching them to lay beside the furniture. Starting early will help you as much as the dog.
Decide if you will have off limit areas for your dog. If you don’t want them to go into the baby’s room, then start teaching them to wait for you by the door. If you don’t mind them being in the room but not wanting them under foot, give them a special area to sit/lay while you’re in the room.
Designate specific areas that are just for your dog. You can put a dog bed or blanket in these places to help them recognize their ‘spot’. Each time they enter the room with you, show them their area and command them to sit or lay. Give them a treat when they comply. If they move around redirect them to that spot again. Continue this and they will understand that is where they belong.
If you do not want your dog in certain places, make sure to block them with a baby gate or close the door. Continue to remind them not to go into that room. After a while, leave the door open and watch to see if they go in. If they stop and stay right outside, reward them. If not, redirect.
Things to Know
Do not give your dog extra cuddles before baby comes. They will expect this to continue after the baby comes. And if it doesn’t, they will feel neglected. Continue to treat them the same.
Before bringing baby home, bring a baby item from the hospital with the new baby’s scent. It will give the dog the new scent and they can start becoming familiar with it before meeting baby.
Trim dog’s nails and often.
Change up feeding times. If you feed them at certain times, change it up. After the baby comes you may not keep the same schedules. Get them used to a varying feeding schedules.
You love your furbaby as much as you love your new baby. Helping them get adjusted to baby’s arrival beforehand will make the transition easier on the whole family.