The arrival of a new (human) baby in your household is a momentous and joyous occasion, but your furry friends might not take to the change well. In fact, they might be confused by, or even jealous of the attention that you are giving to your newborn.
The key to ensuring harmony between your newborn and your dog is to plan ahead to prevent such unwanted behaviour. Read on for tips to help all your kids get along!
1. Establish dominance
To discourage your dog from rebellious behaviour, make sure that it knows its place in your household. No matter how deep your bond with your dog is, you have to remember to establish the fact that you are the pack leader of the house. This means that your dog has to abide by your rules, which includes showing respect for your new baby when he or she is born.
You can reinforce this by correcting any unwanted habits in your dog as well as conditioning your dog to obey your instructions way before your baby arrives. Of course, try to use only positive reinforcements. This will encourage your dog to be calm and well-behaved even after being introduced to your newborn!
2. Introduce change gradually
Dogs are creatures of habit that depend on regular routines in their day-to-day life. This means that any changes you want to introduce to your pooch should be done gradually, preferably even before bringing your newborn home. Doing this will ensure that your dog does not negatively associate the changes in its lifestyle with your baby.
To do so, you can consider measures like bringing a stroller out for walks even before your baby arrives to teach your dog that a stroller on walks is the new norm. Another alternative is to play recorded baby sounds to get your dog used to the cries that your baby would make at home.
An additional measure you can take is to establish some boundaries with your pooch to certain rooms in the house, such as the nursery room, to prevent unwanted intrusions.
3. Get your dog used to your baby’s scent
Dogs recognise others by their sense of smell, and introducing your baby’s scent to your dog before they meet will make the first greeting less jarring for your pooch. We recommend taking an item of your baby’s clothing home before his/her arrival for your furry friend to sniff!
While holding your baby’s item, challenge your dog to sniff it from a distance. This helps to establish boundaries and allows your baby’s item to be identified as your item as well. In doing so, it cultivates your dog’s respect for your child.
As much as you love and trust your beloved canine friend, do take note that there is still a chance that your dog might attempt to hurt your child, whether intentionally or by accident. It is, therefore, best to always keep a close eye on their interactions and be prepared for any situation. However, remember that your pet is not doing it out of spite – it simply is confused or feeling threatened!