Introducing Dog to Baby: Tips, Behaviors & More
Bringing a new baby home to your fur babies can be a stressful experience, especially when you can’t predict how your dog will react. This blog will go over a range of dog behaviors to look out for, from obsessiveness to anxiety to aggression, and how to avoid hairy situations.
Introducing a Dog to the Baby: Before Bringing Your Baby Home
Gradually Change Your Dog’s Routine
In the weeks leading up to bringing your new baby home, slowly change your dog’s daily routine to fit a baby-focused schedule. If you need to change their walk or meal schedule, this is the time to do it. This way, your dog won’t be thrown off by a sudden change in their schedule, which can cause anxiety and confusion.
Introduce Baby Sounds and Scents
Get your dog acclimated to the new sounds and scents that will be filling the house once your baby is home. Play sounds of crying and laughter, and introduce the sounds of baby toys that may seem startling. Introduce smells like baby powder and lotion, and bring a baby blanket home once your baby is born so your dog can learn their scent prior to their arrival.
Reduce Attention and Play Time
We don’t mean to stop playing with and loving on your dog, but it is recommended to lessen the attention paid to your dog in the weeks before bringing your baby home. This way, your dog won’t get as jealous by a sudden shift of attention from them to your new bundle of joy.
Train Important Commands
Make sure your dog is trained up on important commands that can help control situations once you bring the baby home. Commands such as “off” to prevent jumping, “leave it” to avoid your dog licking the baby, “drop” for baby toys mistaken as dog toys, and “go to bed” when you need your dog to go elsewhere.
Set up Defined Spaces
Determining where you want dedicated dog space and dedicated baby space before bringing your baby home will make life easier. Use the time before your baby is home to teach your dog boundaries and reinforce good behavior for staying in their area, and definitely work on the “go to ____” commands mentioned above.
Introducing a Dog to the Baby: After Bringing Baby Home
Walk In Without Your Baby First
In the time you were in the hospital, your dog probably missed you! As cute as the excitement of you coming home is, enter the house first without your new baby to avoid jumping and injury. Once your dog has calmed down, bring in baby and allow your dog to see baby at a distance.
Keep a Distance for the First Few Days
The first few days of having your baby at home will be an odd adjustment period for everyone, including your dog. Routines will be thrown off, stress may be high, and your dog will probably be confused about the changes – even if you did take the steps above to prepare. Use these days to adjust and allow your dog to get acclimated to your baby’s new sounds and scents before full introduction.
Give Your Dog Plenty of Love
Like we’ve mentioned, this time will probably be a time where your dog is feeling confused and possibly jealous. Set aside time for your dog without your baby, and ensure they are still getting ample exercise with walks or play time. This tip is to also note to keep anything baby-related positive with your dog, so no scolding if they pick up a baby toy instead of their own. You don’t want to associate your baby’s scent or sounds with getting in trouble.
Once it’s time for closer interactions, keep them highly monitored. At first, keep your dog on a controlled leash to see initial reactions to your baby. If positive, you can spend the following days with monitored off-leash meetings. Never leave your baby unattended in a room with your dog.
Teach Gentle Behaviors
Acclimate your dog to the touch of a baby by doing light pokes and ear tugs followed by plenty of treat rewards. When your baby is old enough to interact, their body movements may not be predictable, and it’s best to train your dog how to put up with it. As your baby grows older, teach them gentle strokes and quieter sounds to not irritate your dog.
Decoding Dog Behavior with a New Baby
It is always a gamble when introducing your baby to your dog, as it’s hard to predict how their behavior will change. Many negative dog behaviors can be improved with proper training and a slow, monitored, and positive introduction period. Keep an eye on how your dog is adjusting to the new situation, and be wary of these behaviors that may arise:
- Anxiety: Changing your dog’s routine and environment can cause anxiety, which can lead to health issues like diarrhea and cause nervous behavior such as panting, excessively licking of paws, and biting knees.
- Biting: In your dog’s eyes, a new creature is invading their space. New routines, sounds, smells, and unpredictable movements can put your dog on edge, and its annoyance can lead to aggression and nipping.
- Depression: Your attention has likely shifted from your fur baby to your human baby, and it might make your pup feel down and feel like withdrawing. Giving your dog personal time with you can help them feel loved and tended to.
- Growling: Just like biting, growling is a warning sign from your dog that they are uncomfortable. If your dog begins to growl, remove them from the current situation and let them have space.
- Jealousy: Your dog may become jealous of the extra time you’re spending with your baby, and may act out. Signs of jealousy to look out for range from crowding your space to going to the bathroom indoors.
- Licking: When your dog tries to lick your baby, it can be trying to play with your baby or assert its dominance. Dominant behavior can lead to dangerous outcomes, but even play licks carry germs and should be avoided.