Dogs’ sensitivity to the feelings of people have made them faithful companions from very ancient times. They learn the family dynamic and add to it, becoming part of the family. But what happens when that dynamic changes and a new member enters the family? Changes in the family dynamic can throw a dog off, but there are ways to help your dog adapt to change.
Whether your dog currently rules the roost or is accustomed to other people, introducing your coming baby to the dog can be tricky territory. A little research and careful planning can help ease the adjustment for everyone. Read on for some ideas on how to approach your dog meeting your new baby for the first time.
1. Take it slow.
Since dogs are very intuitive, your pet probably already senses changes even before the baby’s arrival. Slowly adjust your dog’s routines in preparation for the coming newborn.
2. Rearrange the dog’s space.
Adjust where your dog sleeps, eats, or plays to make the environment right for the arrival of the new baby. Don’t make all the changes at once, and your dog will have a much easier time acclimating.
3. Reduce attention.
Ease your dog into the idea of having a new baby around by slightly lessening the amount of play and attention you give your dog just before the baby arrives. You’re sure to be wrapped up in the new baby in the first few weeks, and you don’t want your dog thrown off by the presumed neglect.
4. Set limits.
If you currently allow your dog to sleep on your bed or eat scraps near the dinner table, you may want to reconsider these habits when you have a newborn around. Start implementing these limits as soon as possible so the dog has time to get used to the expectations and doesn’t act out when the baby is around.
5. Make “safe spots” for your dog.
Designate specific areas of the house for the dog so he or she has an outlet and place to retreat when the baby’s presence is overwhelming.
6. Plan the meet and greet.
It’s best to come in the door from the hospital without the baby so the dog can release its excitement and have some one-on-one attention. Speaking of one-on-one attention, be sure to still plan some quality time with your dog so they don’t feel completely ignored.
7. Be cautious.
Once your dog has let off some energy when you return home, you can cautiously introduce the baby. Don’t let the dog get too close to the baby, but allow the dog to see and smell the newborn’s scent first. You may even want to bring out baby clothes or lotion for the dog to smell.
8. Be in tune with your dog’s needs.
Pay attention to how your dog reacts to the baby’s different temperaments, including screams, giggles, and babbling later on. Though a dog may seem subdued when the baby is asleep, it may be thrown off by sudden anger or excitement from the baby.
9. Have a positive attitude.
You’re sure to be filled with some worries about the pending arrival of the new baby, but your dog will sense that anxiety and feel a similar sense of nervousness. Play it cool and focus on the positive to help both you and your dog be prepared for the big and exciting transition ahead.
Foster the Relationship
Though you may have hesitations about the initial stages, your dog and baby are likely to become great friends in the long run. Enjoy the process of introducing your baby to your dog, and maintain a positive attitude so the dog doesn’t perceive any negative associations. Dogs are known as man’s best friend for good reason, and your baby will probably come feel that way too.