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How to Properly Introduce your Dog to a New Baby

By Jason Wright

February 13, 2023

Transitioning one's home to accommodate a dog and a baby can be overwhelming. Not only are new parents concerned about their baby's safety around their pet, but they also want to maintain a happy and healthy bond and environment for their dog. However, without the proper training and preparations, it's easy to feel like it's impossible to achieve both.

This is why working with your pet and preparing them for the addition of a baby before it arrives is crucial. Not only does this help to establish healthy boundaries between your dog and your child, but it also helps to make the transition period easier and less stressful. Your dog will also be able to maintain a healthy and happy relationship with you, its owner, and build a strong bond with your new baby.

Now, if you are preparing for the arrival of a child, you must spend the time to get your home and pet trained and start as soon as possible. While it will take some additional work initially, it will help prevent any accidents or mishaps down the line.

Start Training Your Dog Before Your Baby Arrives

You should start working with and training your dog for your baby's arrival right from the beginning. This will help give your dog time to adjust to the increase in toys and noise that will be flowing throughout your house in no time. It will also allow your dog to get accustomed to the changes in their routine.

Before we dive into the fundamental changes and training that should occur, it's necessary to note that you must be aware of your dog's energy throughout the process and be patient with them. Their routines and habits may drastically change throughout the preparations. Reward them when applicable, and monitor their energy to ensure that no new behavioural issues, such as aggression or anxiety, occur throughout the process. 

Here is how to get your dog ready for the arrival of a baby in your home:

Start Setting Boundaries; This is critical. Certain areas of your home will have new restrictions as your space changes to accommodate a baby. The baby's room and key items, such as their stroller, toys, and crib, should have strict boundaries. 

Before the arrival, you must work with your pet to teach them that these new things are off-limits. Setting these boundaries in place before the arrival will help prevent any accidents. 

Play Baby Noises Around the House; Your home will change in terms of the sounds and noises that flow through it, which can be difficult for your dog. This is why we recommend allowing your dog to adjust to these new noises ahead of time so it can feel comfortable. Start playing noises from baby toys or even the sound of a baby crying to help your pet adjust and understand the noise.

Take Your Dog for a Stroller Walk; A change in your dog's routine will be learning how to walk at a slower pace with a large object in front of them; the stroller. Rather than waiting until you're actually using the stroller, start going for "stroller walks." This will teach your pet to be comfortable and will continue to teach them that they need to walk beside you, the owner, rather than the stroller. Having your dog walk next to the stroller can be hazardous, so it’s important to teach them to stay by your side, preventing accidents. 

Manage Door Greetings and Thresholds; A jumping dog with a baby is dangerous. If your dog gets excited when people enter the house or tend to jump up, you'll want to work on correcting this behaviour as quickly as possible. Work with them on thresholds and keeping all four paws on the ground at all times to ensure your dog is trained and ready.

Introducing Your Dog to Your Newborn

When your baby finally arrives home, you may feel excited to introduce your pet to your newborn. However, it's recommended that you take small steps during the introduction phase. There could be a lot of nervous energy, and although you've trained your pet and your home to be ready for this moment, you can never be sure how they will react. 

One thing that's recommended before introducing the two of them is getting your pet used to your newborn's scent. If you can, try bringing home a blanket or a piece of clothing from the hospital that smells like your baby a few days beforehand, allowing your dog to sniff and be curious. This will, again, allow your pet to get comfortable with the change in the environment and the new scent that will be present in their home. It is even recommended that you continue to introduce the scent of your child when the baby is home. Constantly allow your pet to sniff and get accustomed to your baby's smell before the initial introduction. 

When it comes time to introduce your dog and child, it's important to remember to take it slow, consistently reading and monitoring your dog's energy. Here are some vital things you'll want to keep in mind at this stage;

  1. Slow and steady; If you rush the greeting, your dog may become over-aroused and anxious... Take it slow so that you can watch your dog and ensure the initial greeting goes over well. You also don’t want to rush into introducing your pet and your baby. Allow your dog to get comfortable with the new scent and sounds of the newborn in the house. This will help to ensure your dog feels calmer and more relaxed when meeting the baby.
  2. Monitor the energy; Your dog should be in a calm state. This will prevent accidents, such as your dog jumping up or jumping at the baby. If your dog shows signs of excitement or aggression, move away from your pet with the baby and return once they have calmed down.
  3. Have your dog sit; Once your dog is in a calm state, have them lay on place command a small distance away from you with the baby in your hands. This will allow them to be curious and smell from a relaxed position.
  4. Remember to show your pet affection; You want your pet to feel comfortable and loved during this time. While you may be wrapped up in your newborn, remember to give your dog treats and affection to help them adjust to sharing their attention with something new.
  5. Use the Crate, Baby Gates, or the Place Command; If you have a dog that struggles with aggression towards new things, it can feel nervewracking introducing your pet to your new baby. This is where you’ll want to rely on tools such as the crate and baby gates and where you’ll want to use the place command.

    If your dog is showcasing signs of aggression, it’s best to have them go to its crate, allowing your pet to calm down and relax in its safe space. While the crate can be used as a separation tool between your dog and the baby, it’s important to remember that the crate should be a positive thing for your pet. Just like how you need space from your dog, it’s important to give them space from you, so don’t approach the gate with your baby in your hands while your dog is residing there. This could lead to barrier frustration and can have serious consequences.

    Baby gates can also be a tool to help set up strict boundaries as to where your dog can and cannot go throughout the house. However, it’s important that you work to prevent your dog from getting barrier frustration with these gates as well. Treat the baby gates as a boundary, but be sure to reward your dog and show them affection for respecting them throughout the house.

    Lastly, the place command is a simple yet effective way to have your dog go to a specific location upon your command, such as their bed or crate. This should be used if your dog starts to show signs of aggression while near or around your baby. If you notice that their energy is starting to shift, use the place command to separate your dog from your newborn, giving your pet the space and time it needs to relax and feel comfortable.

The iTK9 Way; Preparing Your Dog for the Arrival of a Baby

Preparing your pet for the introduction of a baby is a serious task that should not be taken lightly. It's best to ensure that your dog and your household are prepared to prevent accidents and allow for a smooth transition during this exciting time. 

If you need assistance with your dog and its training to meet and adjust to a newborn, our trainers can help. They are fully committed to working with them through behaviour, obedience training, and continued learning. 

We do the hard work for you to attain a happy home and a healthy relationship with your pet.

Included in all of our programs are the following;

  1. In-Person Learning: Midway progress training video, two go-home lessons.
  2. Online Learning: Owner education course, instructional training videos, iTK9 member community, e-books & additional training resources.
  3. Owner Support: Photo updates of your dog training with our team and access to our team for questions & support.

For more information on our programs, including Board & Train, contact us today.

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