A few weeks ago, I spoke with experienced dog trainer, Tracy Pore. She gave me a detailed three-part plan to prepare our dog for the baby who will join our family this fall. In parts one and two, we covered relearning basic manners and appropriate behaviors and preparing for the baby’s arrival by acclimating your dog. Now, we’re on part three:
Introducing the baby to your dog in a calm and nonthreatening way
This is it. The actual day that dog and baby meet for the first time. Granted, it’s probably not long after you’ve met baby for the first time, so, you’ll have a lot on your mind. But Tracy has outlined some clear tips on how to properly introduce the new “siblings” to set them up for a lifetime of joyful friendship. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
This is the section most books like to call “Bringing Baby Home from the Hospital.” However, as I mentioned before, I won’t be bringing the baby home from a hospital, as I won’t be going to a hospital in the first place. I did ask Tracy what she thought of having Rusty there during my homebirth. She’s had two babies, both in the hospital, and she felt that labor was perhaps too intense a situation to expose Rusty to. He may think I’m hurt, or something’s wrong, and it could stress him out unnecessarily. So, we’re going to try it out, but we’ll have my dad on call to take Rusty if needed.
So, assuming that we’ll be bringing Rusty home from my dad’s house, we can take the same steps that Tracy recommends for bringing the baby home from the hospital.
Before meeting baby
- Get the hyper out. Before you first greet the dog, make sure he’s been walked or exercised. This will ensure that he’s not overly hyper and energetic when it comes time to make introductions.
- Say hello sans baby at first. Have a third party hold the baby while you and your partner greet the dog for the first time after the birth. Let him get all his excitement about seeing you out before you break the news that he’s no longer numero uno.
- Set the mood. Before you introduce to the baby, run the dog through a few tricks he knows, like sit or stay (rewarding with treats), so he’s in a focused and obedient mindset.
Now, bring that baby in!
- Proper introductions. Hold the baby at the appropriate level where the dog can sniff and lick the baby’s feet, but not access the baby’s face. Hold off on face-to-face contact until the dog is more used to the baby.
- Baby time = fun time! Remember to always have lots of new and exciting treats or toys on hand when the dog is interacting with the baby. You want them to have a positive relationship from day one.
Remember, the dog should always feel included in baby time. If you lock him out every time you need to tend to the baby, he’ll start to build resentment, and that’s where problems can happen.
If you have concerns about how your dog will react to your new baby, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a professional trainer like Tracy. A trainer can walk you through all the steps to make sure your dog is good and ready. The sooner you start working with your dog, the better.
How did things go the first time you introduced your baby to your dog? Let me know in the comments!
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