Bringing Home Baby: How to Smooth the Transition for Your Dog

When you’ve been the only child for a while, it’s tough when a new sibling comes along. All of a sudden, mom and dad’s attention is somewhere else and your entire world is turned upside down.

That’s not only true of human children but the family dog as well. Bringing a new baby home can result in jealousy, stress and behavior issues, especially if he’s never been around children before. But there are steps you can take before the baby’s arrival to help ease the transition for your pooch.

Address Training Issues

Now is the time to brush up on your dog’s basic obedience and manners. Put extra focus on commands like “down,” “stay,” and “off.” Work on any issues like jumping that could inadvertently cause harm to you or the baby. If you haven’t already, train your dog to wait to be invited onto the furniture or the bed. (If your dog displays any behavior that worries you – either before or after the baby arrives – contact a trainer or behaviorist for help.)

Decrease Attention Gradually

Most of us dote on our dogs by giving them lots of attention throughout the day. But once the baby arrives, all the focus will be on him or her. So help your pooch get accustomed to the idea by gradually decreasing the amount of constant attention they get. Instead, devote a few times a day to throwing the ball, going on walks or just snuggling.

Create Positive Associations

As you bring strollers, toys, cribs, blankets, carriers and other baby equipment into the house, let your dog inspect them. Be sure to praise and reward him when he’s interacting with the items appropriately so that he’ll associate good things with all that strange new stuff.

Bringing Baby Home

While mom and baby are still in the hospital, have someone bring home a blanket or item of clothing so that your dog can get used to the baby’s scent. On the day everyone returns home, confine your dog to another room or behind a gate to prevent over exuberant greetings. Greet your pooch without the baby first and then, when he’s settled down, bring him into the same room as the baby. Offer lots of rewards and praise for acting calmly and appropriately around his new “sibling.”

Safety Tips

The sounds and motions of children can be alarming to even the most laid-back of dogs. So avoid face-to-face interactions and never leave your dog and baby alone together. Take one of them with you if you leave the room, or use a barrier like a door or baby gate to keep them separated.
If possible, continue the routine you established of devoted doggy time. Keep your pup well exercised and offer things like toy puzzles to keep him mentally stimulated. Give him his own comfy space to relax away from the hubbub, and never scold or punish him around the baby. Creating positive associations early will help ensure your fur-kid and your human kid become the best of friends.