Introducing a New Arrival
The introduction of a new baby into a household which already contains a dog is an important event for the dog. Here are some tips to make the introduction and transition period more successful.
While awaiting your new arrival:
Consult your veterinarian and be sure your dog is healthy and free of any parasites. Take your dog to obedience school, if he hasn’t already been. The most important command for your dog to know an know well is down–stay. This will allow your dog to be a member of the household without being a nuisance. If you have an overly dependent dog, start building his independence through obedience or consulting a behaviorist. Overly dependent dogs are more likely to show rivalry and cause you problems after the baby comes. Introduce your dog to the nursery (don’t bar him from it) and to the sounds of a newborn (via tape recordings if possible).
After the Baby Arrives
While the baby is in the hospital, wrap it in your own receiving blanket for about a half hour. Then, Dad should take the blanket home with him and introduce the baby’s smell to the dog. When you bring the baby home, let your dog say hello by sitting down and holding the baby securely in your arms low enough for the dog to see and smell the baby. Talk calmly and quietly to the dog. Whatever you do, don’t panic and scream at the dog. Chances are if the dog isn’t behaving itself it’s your own fault––the dog needs more training!
The first few weeks will be a stressful transition period for everyone in the family, including the dog. BE PATIENT! Don’t feel you have to accept the dog being under foot all the time, but don’t kick him in the backyard for 16 hours at a stretch either. Give him a chance to get used to the new activity, smells and sounds. In two to four weeks, the dog should settle down and feel at ease with the new little one. If not, consult a trainer or behaviorist to determine if there are underlying problems. NEVER leave your dog alone with your infant! Use a playpen. Accidents do happen. Remember, your dog is an animal and has instincts and reactions that are not human. Protect your dog from your infant (when he gets mobile) by creating a safe, off–limits place for your dog to go when it wants to be alone.