Dogs are incredibly loyal to their owners and often become a member of the family when they are a puppy, making them the family baby. Growing up and caring for them in the same way as an actual baby can make them territorial, especially when it comes to introducing new family members.
When your family expands with the birth of a newborn, your dog may feel sad, frustrated and pushed aside by the baby. Ignoring your dog could lead to behavioral problems, like acting out, going to the bathroom inside, getting into things they’re not supposed to and so forth. This behavior is a cry for their attention, away from the baby.
Dogs find babies to be confusing little beings that make strange sounds, smell different and need their owners 24/7. Obviously you want to care for and cuddle your new bundle of joy, especially because their needs to be met as soon as possible. However, you can make your dog feel important and part of the process of caring for your newborn.
The first step to a successful relationship between dog and your baby is the introduction.
Prior to bringing the baby into the house, take a blanket that the baby was wrapped in at the hospital home so that your dog can get familiar with the scent.
Upon bringing the baby home, make sure the dog is greeted first with the same excitement and attention as every other day.
Once the “hellos” are exchanged, leash your dog gently and quietly and slowly bring the dog over to the baby carrier. The dog will want to smell the baby and may try to lick the baby. Avoid reprimands if possible and be sure to pet and speak softly to your dog with the command of “good boy/girl”.
Make sure the first meeting is quiet and in a communal space such as the living room. If you sense your dog is getting agitated or nervous, end the meeting and try again later.
Every day interactions should be positive. Some may think to keep the dog at bay unless the baby is sleeping, but you want to do the opposite. As you care for the baby, allow your dog to be right there so they do not feel left out.
It is a lot of work and patience, but over time, you can foster a successful bond between your dog and baby.