Dogs and babies snuggling with your family on the sofa is the dream, right? Make your dreams a reality by remembering the unpredictability of both tiny humans and furry family members, and implementing these steps as you introduce your new baby to your pet:
1. Ease Into It
In many cases, your furry friend had domain over the household, and your affections, first. Try not to force the new relationship. Sam Basso, a professional dog trainer and behaviorist in the Phoenix area says, “It can take two to three months for a dog to accept a new animal into a home, so you should assume the same for an infant.” Prime your dog for baby’s arrival in a neutral place outside your home, like a public park, and have him/her sniff baby’s blanket. Then repeat this just outside your house, before baby arrives.
2. Designate a Safespace For Your Pet
Whether it’s a separate room or just your dog’s favorite blue blanket laid out in the corner, help your pets avoid unnecessary stress by giving them a “baby-free” place to go. By going there, your pets can communicate to you and your kids that they need a break.
3. Teach Kids How to Respect Animals
We’ve all seen well-meaning babies and children inflict some accidental harm on unexpecting dogs. Instead of just saying “no” or “stop” when your child hits or yanks your pet, model for them instead the proper behavior by gently taking their hand to stroke the fur. Explain why they need to touch animals gently and with respect. This will help them to better get along with your pet and other people’s pets, too!
4. See Spot Run
Even though baby will be usurping most of your attention, your fur baby still needs to get his/her exercise to avoid jealousy issues. Basso recommends, “If you need a place to put the dog on those days when you are exhausted, a local doggie daycare is ideal. The dog is getting exercised and socialized, and is getting more general stimulation – which means the dog will be calmer and easier to deal with.”
5. Don’t Leave Them Alone
No matter how well you think you know your pet (and your children), it’s not worth the risk of leaving them alone together. Babies and toddlers create new challenges for your pet, and it’s best not to leave them unchecked. Take either Fido or baby with you when you leave the room.