Bringing a new baby home from the hospital is exciting for you, but it may be confusing or frightening to your dog. Suddenly, the baby is taking up most of its owners’ time and attention, and the family dog can start to feel anxious or jealous. Taking the right steps before your new baby arrives home can help create a bond between your new addition and your dog.
The American Kennel Club offers the following tips to help your dog adjust to a new addition to the family:
• Make gradual changes. If aspects of your dog’s routine, like where she sleeps or when she gets walks, are going to change when the baby arrives, it is best to gradually adjust the routine before you bring home the new baby so that the dog will not associate the changes with the baby.
• Getting acquainted. Bring an article of the baby's clothing or a baby blanket home so the dog can get used to the infant's scent before the baby arrives.
• Get adjusted to new sounds. If your dog is sound-sensitive and you think she may be nervous when the baby cries, you can expose her to a recording of crying baby sounds. Starting with quieter cries, gradually increase the sound until your dog is conditioned to the sound of a baby crying.
• Introduce your dog to baby items. The baby will have new swings, seats and toys. Sooner rather than later, show the dog the new items so that she has seen the swing move before there is a baby in it. Make sure to teach her “leave it” before the baby comes home.
• Dog meets baby. Your pup will be curious and anxious to meet the new member of the family. To make sure she doesn’t jump on you when you come home from the hospital with the new baby, it is a good idea for you and your partner to each greet the dog alone until she calms down and then slowly and carefully introduce her to the baby. Praise your dog for being calm and well-behaved.
• Keep your attention balanced. Dogs can often feel left out when a new baby is introduced into the family, taking up most of its owners’ time and attention. Be sure to give your dog plenty of attention whether the baby is around or not so she doesn’t get jealous. Also, make sure your four-legged friend still gets daily exercise and play sessions. Exercise is an outlet for your dog’s energy. It’s extremely important to have a calm, mellow dog that doesn’t act out when there’s a new baby in the house.
• Supervision. To protect both parties, dogs and babies/children should always be supervised when together. This applies to when the babies are infants up until they are at least preschoolers. Once your baby begins to crawl, make sure that they don’t tug on the dog's tail or ears. Snapping and growling are natural canine behaviors when they are trying to communicate a warning. Even the most tolerant dog has its limits.©2021 American Kennel Club. Visit at akc.org. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC