Introducing Fur Baby to New Baby
When my first baby was born, I didn’t think twice about introducing him to our fur baby, Bailey. She was the sweetest Goldendoodle and we’d never worried about her snapping or growling at anyone. My husband put the baby on Bailey while she was laying down for a photo op and Bailey growled. Even the sweetest dog that you would never consider a danger to your baby can be discombobulated or jealous when you bring home a new family member. It would be prudent to take some steps to ensure that your pet is prepared for the new arrival.
Once you’ve had your baby shower or compiled all of new baby’s gear, go ahead and set it all up. That way your pet will get used to the items ahead of time. The dog or cat can check out all the new stuff and by the time baby arrives, they won’t find the items unusual. It will cause less stress on the pet when you bring home the baby.
If you’re like us, your pet was your baby before children. They had the run of the house and slept anywhere. One way to help make your pet more comfortable when the baby comes is to set aside a special place for the animal. It could be the kitchen or laundry room or even a crate, if they are crate trained. Place their food and water bowls, toys and bed in this area and start having your pet spend time in there so it becomes their space. This will be the place that the dog can retreat to when they want to rest or get away from the new baby (this is more of a problem when the baby becomes mobile).
Another way to prepare your pet for baby’s arrival is to use a prop, such as a doll, to hold and allow them to get used to seeing you hold something in your arms. If you have a friend with a baby, borrow one of their blankets to wrap around your doll so the doll has a human scent. If the dog is well behaved and indifferent to the doll, you can try a safe experiment with a human baby. Always have another adult nearby to control the dog if something goes wrong or to hand the baby to so you can take your dog out of the room. Never leave your dog with a new baby or child unattended.
If you intend to set new rules for your pet once the baby is here, do it beforehand. Trying to set new rules and bringing a newborn into the house at the same time will be futile and likely cause excess stress to your pet. For example, if you don’t intend to allow your dog on the furniture once the baby gets here, start working on it well ahead of time. Consider consulting a trainer if you think the dog’s behavior might be an issue when the baby comes.
A dog’s strongest sense is his sense of smell which is anywhere from a thousand to a million times stronger than a human’s. He explores new things, people, and animals by sniffing them. Once the baby arrives, if there is time, have a family member take a used blanket of the new baby’s home for your dog to sniff. By the time baby arrives the dog will be accustomed to the scent, in any case. If there is no time for this, then when you arrive home with the baby, allow someone to take a used blanket in to the dog before entering with the baby. If the dog greets the scent favorably, bring the baby in. You can also leave the blanket with the dog in a separate room so he can acclimatize to the scent.
As an in-home pet sitter, my boys have been introduced to a lot of dogs. I never leave new dogs unattended with the boys and I teach them how to safely approach the dog. Basically, you should never do anything that makes your dog uncomfortable around your baby or puts your baby at risk. Putting the baby on our dog for a photo was a terrible idea and most definitely made Bailey uncomfortable. Another dog may have snapped and the situation could have been way worse. If you prepare your dog for the new arrival and use some common sense, it will make the transition smoother and easier.