How to Introduce Your Dog to Your New Baby

Before I had kids, my first baby was my dog of course. Sawyer was the first dog I bought and cared for myself and I was always nervous to bring kids into the picture.
Dog and newborn baby

Sawyer was always very friendly and loving, and always ran right up to adults, but he was always very nervous around children. I’m not sure why, but Sawyer always hid behind me when an eager child ran up to pet him. He would never bite, but it was obvious that he did not want to be near kids. After I found out I was pregnant with my son, I knew we had to get Sawyer to be more comfortable around children. I knew I couldn’t give up my first “baby” so we took the necessary steps so that Sawyer was content with having our new addition come into the family. Here are some easy to take when introducing your pet to your new child.

Before the baby arrives…

Depending on the temperament of your pet (we will focus on dogs for this post), you may want to start working with a trainer who can fix any behavioral issues before bringing a baby into the picture. If you don’t feel this is necessary with your dog, just make sure they are perfectly accepting of being around kids all the way up to adults. Remember, your dog should always think of you as their leader. If you don’t feel like your dog see’s you as that, you need to condition them to know that you are the master at all times. A trainer could help, or just read through some dog training books to find out how to do this.

Closer to baby…

You want to get your dog familiar with the scent of your new baby. Before bringing baby home, bring an item home with your baby’s scent on it such as a burp cloth or blanket. This task is extremely important and you must set boundaries with your dog. According to Caesar Milan, you should start from a distance and let your dog smell the scent from far away. This tells your dog that the item is yours but you are giving them permission to smell it.

Taking it further…

Once your dog is familiar with their smell, you can start showing your pooch other boundaries. Try bringing your dog into the baby’s nursery. Let them sniff around, but you need to condition them to know this room is only allowed with your permission. You don’t want your dog walking in and out of the nursery throughout the day, especially once baby is home. You can decide when your dog can enter the nursery, and when it is off limits. Repeat these steps where the dog can enter and sniff, then guide them to the door. This is like an invisible boundary that they may not cross without your consent.

The introduction…

Cesar Milan, the dog whisperer, says that the initial introduction of your dog and new baby should be very controlled. It may help to walk your dog on a long walk so they are not extremely energized. Before reentering the house, make sure your dog is acting in a controlled manner. Upon walking in, the dog will know there is a new scent in the house since you will have already introduced your baby’s scent to your dog previously. It should not be a threatening scent, but more of a curious one. Walk in the door with either Mom or Dad holding the baby in a calm manner. Your dog can smell the baby, but do not let them get too close just yet. Eventually, you can let your dog get closer and closer, but the initial introduction should be distanced. Overtime, bringing baby and dog closer together will let your dog know that the new baby is someone to be respected too. You can gauge how close you let your dog and how soon you let them get close because you know your dog’s temperament and behavior better than anyone else.

Developing relationships between dog and baby…

Once your baby is a little bit older and is mobile, it is important to keep constant supervision when dog and baby are together. This is the stage where it is important to teach baby not to yank their tail, touch the dog while they are eating, etc. Don’t forget to try and balance your attention between both baby and dog. Dogs need attention and love just like babies do. If all of these steps are done properly, you can feel at ease knowing all family members can be in the same room without any worries.

Remember – your dog is also an important character in a household, and they will learn to love baby just as much as they love you!

By Jamie Williams