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Tips for Introducing Dog to Baby

My husband and I were like most couples – our journey to a real baby started with having a dog. Our fur-baby was our first attempt at “parenting” – getting up in the middle of the night to take her outside, cleaning accidents off the floor, disciplining, feeding, and socializing. It was all new for us. Looking back, it’s kind of funny how much work a new puppy seemed like. However, in the grand scheme of things, I shouldn’t have taken those weekends where we slept in until 8 o’clock for granted.

Naughty Puppy
It didn’t take long for that dog to become the apple of my husband’s eye. Her and I, on the other hand, have more of a love/hate relationship as I don’t do so well with her naughty antics. So, when we found out we were expecting, I instantly became a bit apprehensive of how another person in the mix would affect their relationship. 

Cue the various news stories of dogs mauling young children, attacks at the dog park, or kids just playing out in the yard. My apprehension evolved into fear.  

How would I feel if my sweet baby was injured because of the family dog? Heck, the neighbor’s dog, my sister’s dog, or any dog for that matter. I figured it was best to do some research and this is what I came up with:

Best Tips on Introducing Dog to Baby

  • Make gradual changes to dog’s routine AHEAD of time. Do simple things – like not allowing the dog places that would affect the baby, or pushing around the empty stroller so they get used to these foreign objects. A great tip from one of our baby classes was to play crying sounds or baby noises {available on YouTube} for extended periods of time prior to baby’s arrival to get the dog used to the new sounds.
  • When bringing baby home from the hospital, have someone go earlier to bring in something that smells like baby. Give the pup adequate time to sniff and explore the smell of something new. In addition, this gives the dog a chance to welcome you home alone, as opposed to jumping all over you and the baby out of excitement.
  • Make sure to make time to keep the dog active. This is a great time to get out the stroller and get everyone outside. Given, this is a different story in winter. So, if you’re unable, this could be an ideal job for a neighbor kid or family friend. An active dog with pent up energy only leads to misbehavior {I learned this all too well when Zoey chewed up all of our door stoppers – metal ones at that}.
  • Allow time for the dog to meet the baby. This was really hard for me at first – allowing our dog to sniff then eventually lick our little one {I followed the seating rule of dog-adult-baby keeping myself in-between in case of change of demeanor from our dog}. They say dogs can sense tension and I think feeling comfortable really helped Zoey understand that the baby was a good thing.

  • Give your dog attention – both when the baby is around and when the baby is not around.  You do not want your dog to associate attention with the absence of the baby.
  • Do not scold the dog for chewing baby’s toys. They do not know the difference between their squeaky ball and the baby’s squeaky ball {when the baby becomes a toddler, this problem reverses itself}. Simply replace the baby’s toy with a dog toy, and just take it in stride that items will be chewed. It’s part of having a dog.
  • As your child grows to be sure to teach them to respect the dog. This is especially hard as they begin walking, crawling, and exploring. Just as you would protect your child from the animal, you should do the same in return. 
  • Give your dog a place of their own. Providing them with a bed or a crate, or an area where they can escape is vital. Also, know as the “den,” this gives dogs a chance to get away from unwanted behavior in a safe space.
  • Never leave the most trusted dog alone with your baby or a small child – safety is no accident!

What are some tips or tricks you used when introducing your dog to the newest member of your family? Be sure to share here!

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