Tips for introducing your dog to your baby

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

_written by Dominika Knossalla-Pado, founder of Dog Meets Baby_

Introducing a newborn to a household with a dog, especially if the dog is reactive, ‘high needs,’ or elderly, requires careful planning and gradual adjustments to ensure a smooth transition.

Here are some steps to help make the newborn phase go smoothly with your dog:

_My Tip: Choose 2 - 3 cues that will be very helpful and train them really well. Mine are: Go to bedLeave it, and Stay._

Your dog is exposed to new smells every day. Every time we bring new items into the house - groceries, new items we purchased, anytime we come from being somewhere else, we bring new smells.⁠ Dogs learn that _smells don't matter _unless they already have a strong association with a particular smell.

There will be many smells on the baby item, and your dog will be able to smell them all. One exposure is going to make little difference. It's okay if you missed it or want to skip it!

Introduce the baby equipment, especially baby items that make sounds or move. You don’t want your dog to see a baby swing for the first time when your baby is in it. Some dogs are not going to care about baby equipment, but some are going to need a slow exposure.

_My Tip:_ Giving your dog treats around baby items is okay, but you don’t want to teach your dog to stay close or run up to baby equipment to get more treats.

_My Tip:_ When you are asleep, you are not supervising. Move your dog out of your bed or bedroom before your baby arrives. I know many parents stress about it. The good news - it is often easier on the dog than you think. And if you don’t know where to start, follow the steps in the Dog Meets Baby Preparation Course.

With management and training, a dog can often overcome this reaction, which is usually temporary. If your dog has stalked, chased, and killed small animals, having a solid plan for introducing your baby to your dog is key.

As Bryce Reddy, LMHC, said: “As humans, it’s so easy to get stuck in the comparison trap of “before & after” baby. We think of how different life was then versus now. And our relationships with our dogs, is no exception. When you find yourself in this guilt-inducing thought pattern, try to bring yourself back to the present (what can I do today to connect with my dog), readjust your expectations (what’s realistic in your current situation), and watch that inner dialogue (Life can be different and still be good for…).”

It is nearly impossible to predict how a dog will react to a newborn.

Preparing and training your dog before your baby arrives will give you peace of mind and confidence. Having a solid first meeting plan will give you control and the “I’ve got this” feeling.

You’ve got this!



PS If you are expecting or adopting a newborn - congratulations. The best place to start is the Dog Meets Baby Preparation Checklist

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