Photo Credit: Over the Moon Photography, LLC
Pets and children just go together. So many of my own childhood memories involve our family pets. Bringing home a baby for the first time though to animals that have been the baby can be stressful. Here are a few tips for making the transition as smooth as possible.
Start with the Basics
When preparing dogs to be ready for a new baby the biggest factor is simply good training. You want to be confident if you tell your dog “stay”, that he will actually stay! Spend time prenatally to really train your animals well. This will be your biggest pay off in the long run!
Smell, Smell, Smell
Take a blanket that baby has been wrapped in and let your animals sniff it, play with it, and sleep with it. This will introduce the scent of your baby before even bringing him home if you deliver at a hospital! Even if you deliver at a birth center and go home the same day you can hold off on too much interaction with dog and baby until he has had a chance to get used to the new smell on a blanket. Having your baby not be a foreign scent when you introduce him or her can make the process a little smoother.
The In Person Meeting,
When the time comes to finally introduce in person use lots of encouraging words reinforcing good behaviour! If possible have one of you hold the baby and have your partner love on and pet your dogs during the encounter. This will help reinforce good behaviour and positive associations with the baby. Positive reinforcement is key! Be encouraging of good gentle behaviour and as much interaction as you are comfortable with.
We all so know some pups are a little needier than others! If you have a dog that loves affection from you make the time to give him that. Spend a few minutes while your partner is holding the baby or when he’s asleep to love on your “first baby”! This will help keep jealousy at bay!
A Word of Caution
No matter the type of animal or how well they are trained you should never leave a baby alone with them. Remember animals like a cat could harmlessly want to lay on top of your little one which could lead to suffocation. It is always better practice to just keep baby out of reach of any animals unless there is direct supervision.
Continue with lots of verbal encouragement and positive reinforcement when pups and babe have good interaction. Of course as baby gets older and mobile they both will have to learn new boundaries! But with good training your dog and baby could grow to be best friends!
Do you have animals when you brought your baby home? How was the adjustment? Any Tips?