7 Tips for Helping Your Dog Adapt to Life with a New Baby

Bringing a new baby into your home can be an exciting yet intimidating experience, especially if you have a dog. For so many, our pets are the first babies in our lives and as excited as we might be to introduce them to their human siblings, it’s so important to remember that they may not understand or accept the presence of a newborn right away.

dog and baby
Image Courtesy of The SprucePets.com

To help make sure your transition is smooth and successful for all family members involved, here are seven tips for helping your dog adjust to life with a new baby and help create a lifelong bond.

baby and dog
Image Courtesy of PeachonaLeash.com

1. Start slowly

Introduce your dog to the idea of a baby before your baby is born. Play recordings of a newborn’s crying and let them become used to the sound; this will help them understand that the sound isn’t something to be scared of when they actually hear it. Allow them to be around other children in a controlled environment with tons of positive reinforcement. Have someone your dog is comfortable with bring home a blanket or onesie that your baby has been snuggled up in the hospital and give it to your dog before they meet the baby, that way your pup can explore and get comfortable with baby’s scent.

2. Show tons of love and attention

When you first arrive home from the hospital, allow your dog to greet you before they meet the baby. Remember, you’ve been away and they’ve missed you! Even if you don’t have as much time to spend with your dog as you used to, it’s important that you still make an effort to show them love and attention. This will help them feel secure in their place within the family dynamic. When baby naps try to get in even just a few minutes of snuggling and playing to keep your pup feeling the love!

3. Create a safe space

Ensure that your dog has a safe spot away from the baby, where they can relax and feel secure. This could be an area of their own with comfortable bedding or even just a corner of the room. Make sure to establish this area before baby comes home and don’t send your dog to this area as a punishment.

4. Exercise

A tired pup is a happy pup! Make sure your dog gets enough exercise and stimulation so they can relax better when it’s time for the baby to be around. If you’re having a hard time getting the exercise in, especially in the beginning, ask family and friends to pitch in or consider using a dog walking service.

5. Use positive reinforcement

When introducing your dog to the baby, focus on rewarding positive behavior with treats or verbal praise. This will help them understand that the presence of a baby is something to be celebrated, not feared. Keep your pup’s favorite treats stocked and on hand for quick reinforcement – maybe even add them to your baby registry!

6. Supervise interactions

To ensure safety, always make sure you supervise any interaction between your pet and child. Even if you have to leave the room for a short amount of time do not leave your dog and baby together. It may seem unnecessary, but dogs can become agitated by baby’s sounds or movements, and it’s just not worth the risk.

7. Seek professional help

If you feel your pup is still having trouble adjusting, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. They can help identify any issues and give advice on how to best proceed with training. If you need help finding trainers and resources check out this page on the American Kennel Club’s website.

dog sleeping with baby
Image Courtesy of Parents.com

Making the transition to life with a baby doesn’t have to be stressful.

With a little patience and understanding, you can help your dog adjust in no time! And don’t forget to give yourself some grace — transitioning to life with a baby is hard for everyone involved, and making sure your dog feels included is just one of the new challenges you’ll face. Take a break when you need it, and know that you’re doing your best!

For even more tips on making the transition to bringing home a new little one, check out tons more new mom advice on Registry Finder!

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