When our daughter was born, we had two dogs, a beagle mix and a boxer mix. They’d been our babies for years, and we weren’t sure how they were going to handle a new human in the house, so we took a few extra steps before bringing her home to make sure they were going to be able to deal with the change:
- Let the baby wear something for a little while in the hospital, then have someone bring it home so the dogs can sniff it. This gets them used to the scent before the baby’s anywhere near them.
- Similarly, play recordings of baby noises (check for YouTube videos). If there are musical toys you’ll be using the first few months, start those up too so the dog isn’t too curious about them while the baby’s using them.
- Work on training, either on your own, with a one-on-one trainer, or in a class in a pet store like PetSmart. Teach the dog to sit still and not jump into your lap when you’re seated or jump onto you when you stand or walk through the door. From my personal experience, it’s always nice to teach them not to cross the threshold without a command to do so. There were too many times I had to run uphill while very pregnant trying to catch my crazy canines when they escaped. Obviously, that lesson didn’t stick with them.
- Shift the attention around before the baby even comes, says The Humane Society. Spend less time with the dog before the baby comes so it’s used to getting less attention and doesnâ€™t associate that lack of time with the child. In addition, the site recommends shifting some of the love over to another family member if the mother-to-be is the dog’s “person.” The other family member will most likely have more time to spend with the pet than the new mom will once the baby comes.
- Once you do bring the baby home, hold the newborn and feed the dog treats, talk to him, and pet him. If he associates good things with the baby, he’ll be less likely to become jealous of the attention the baby gets.
Even if the dogs seem to do well with the new baby, always supervise them when they’re together.
Photo credit: Philippe Put