Many couples get a pet before they have children. While this can be some great training for parenthood, it does complicate the household a little when a baby does arrive. The sudden change in priorities, as well as the general chaos a newborn can bring to the home, may be difficult for some pups to adjust to. Fortunately, dogs and babies can thrive if pets are properly prepared for their newest family member.
1. Get Your Dog Acclimated to Children
Children, especially toddlers and younger kids, can behave in ways that dogs find frightening or threatening, such as the following:
- Screaming, shrieking or making other loud noises
- Moving quickly or suddenly
- Crossing into personal space
If they’re not used to these behaviors, dogs may react aggressively. That’s why it’s a good idea to gradually familiarize your dog with children in a supervised environment. If you have friends or family members with young children, ask them if you can bring your pet around.
2. Introduce Your Dog to New Smells and Items
Dogs explore their world through smell, and a new baby means a whole slew of new scents to get used to. This includes lotion, shampoo, carriers – pretty much everything you’ve collected to be ready for your bundle of joy. Let your pooch sniff around new items to become accustomed to them. It’s a good idea to do this gradually so your pup doesn’t get overwhelmed.
3. Make Sure Your Dog Is Well-Trained
Once you have a new baby in the house, knowing your dog will instantly mind you is essential – in fact, it can be a matter of safety. If your pup is already well-trained, brush up on a few useful commands, such as “stay” and “stop.” If you’ve never worked with Fido on these formal commands, it’s time to start – or you can enroll your pooch in obedience classes if you’re low on time and energy.
4. Get Your Dog Used to
Walking with a Stroller
Both dogs and babies love to go on walks, but the addition of a stroller may initially confuse your pup. Before you have a little one to worry about, it’s best to get Rufus used to the somewhat awkward arrangement of walking with a stroller. This is also an excellent opportunity to practice formal commands in a real-world environment.
5. Change Your Routine Gradually
One of the biggest changes your dog will have to get used to is the new routine. This may include different feeding times or shorter walks, not to mention a different sleep schedule. A bunch of big changes happening at once may be overwhelming and lead to resentment. To help your pup adjust, introduce small changes gradually. This slow introduction can even help you prepare as well.
6. Create a Separate Area for Your Dog
Sometimes it’s just easier to have your dog somewhere out of the way while you tend to your new baby. Your pup may even enjoy some quiet alone time when things get too hectic. To provide this, create an area for your pet that’s comfortable, familiar and safely tucked away. A kennel, crate or gated space made comfy with some blankets or toys can do the trick.
7. Introduce Your Dog to Your Baby’s Smell
It’s a good idea to introduce your dog to your little one’s smell before the two meet in person. Just like with the new items, Rover will want to investigate the scent of your new arrival, which can be too intense for a newborn. Instead, you can let your pup smell the baby’s blanket or clothes to get acquainted.
8. Include Your Dog in Caregiving Activities
Even though you have a child to care for, your pup will still need attention and want to be an active part of the family. To help your pet settle into the new household dynamics, include Spot in caregiving activities. This can be as simple as talking to your dog while changing diapers or allowing Rex to lay at your feet while you hold the baby.
When getting ready to bring a child home, don’t leave your pup out of the equation. With care and attention, you can prepare your dog to welcome your family’s newest addition and keep your household filled with joy and harmony.