When you're expecting and have a four-legged friend at home, chances are your dog has already sniffed out that something is up. As your due date draws closer, your to-do list is likely a mile long, but don't forget to study up on how to introduce your dog to a new baby.
"The Dog Whisperer," Cesar Milan, wrote on his blog that even though your pooch senses the pregnant pause in your speech, and the "new feelings in the air," a dog can't comprehend that you're having a baby. Your dog is mirroring your emotions: excitement, anxiety, joy. It's critical that your dog should see you as the pack leader, so perhaps you can squeeze in a couple dog obedience lessons before your bring your baby home. Milan recommended that although this is an added effort now, it will pay off in the long run.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) added that now is the perfect time to begin to introduce your dog to baby items, and be sure to fill these introductory activities with lots of treats so your pup has pleasant associations with everything baby-related. It's also crucial to have a plan, which includes having someone to take care of your dog while you may be away at the hospital. You might also want to hire a dog walker and purchase an automatic dog feeder with a built-in timer, so that when your baby arrives, your dog's normal schedule is maintained as much as possible while you're caring for your newborn. This will help reduce any anxiety your pooch might have about impending change.
Milan recommended that you prep your pooch by letting him or her sniff some blankets and a burp bib to catch your baby's scent. When it's time for the big introduction, the ASPCA suggested that you leash your dog and have several treats in hand. Do not be nervous, as your dog will pick up on your anxiety. Instead, stay calm and loving. Sit and hold your baby, and have your dog approach you both. Have your dog sniff your baby's toes, and then ask your dog to lie down and stay, recommended the ASPCA. This will help establish "baby interaction rules." Don't forget to lavish your dog with lots of warm praise.
The most important thing is to continue the same activities and attention you used to give your dog after your baby has arrived. Of course, that can be difficult. It might take a while to figure out how to push the stroller and hold the leash. Parents noted that while walking your dog and pushing your baby, you should not loop the leash around the handle of the stroller in case your four-legged friend sees another creature on the walk, and lunges towards it. Instead, you might have to become ambidextrous. All of these changes might sound scary; they might sound exciting. But you'll get the hang of it. And so will your pup. Soon your baby will have a new bestie.