Living with a newborn baby and a dog is like a juggling act. Want to make sure your furry friend loves the new addition to your family?
In this article Peter Boast, Managing Director of baby safety equipment retailer Safetots shares his expert tips for living with a newborn and a pet in relative harmony.
Bringing your newborn home for the first time is one of the most exciting moments you’ll have as a parent, but also one of the most overwhelming. There are so many things to consider and prepare for, and nobody ever feels ready. If you have a beloved dog, you’ll no doubt be concerned about how they’ll react to the newest addition to the family.
The good news is that with some careful consideration and supervised bonding time, you can help your little one and your pooch safely create a beautiful bond that will last for years to come. Use the tips below to help your new baby and your fur baby get along to make your home a lot more peaceful — or at least as peaceful as it can be!
Prepare Your Dog For Living With A Newborn
There’s going to be a lot of changes in your house when you bring your newborn baby home. While parents prepare for this as much as they can, dogs don’t know that a big shift is on the horizon in the same way as humans do. So to help your pet adjust, it’s a good idea to prepare them for the changes on the way by exposing as much as you can to them beforehand. This way your dog won’t become startled and resentful of the newborn baby creating all the change.
It’s a good idea to introduce the animal to all the new sounds that will be on the way, because there’s going to be a lot of them! Play a recording of a crying baby and reassure your dog when they hear it, so they understand that no one is hurt or in danger.
If you’re planning on putting in place new rules for your pet around the baby, it’s best to introduce them as much as possible before your little one arrives. For example, if you want them to stop sleeping in your room you should try to establish this new rule before your newborn comes home so they don’t associate them with this change.
Additionally, as tempting as it is to shower your furry friend with all the love in the world before your baby arrives, this won’t help them adjust to no longer being the centre of attention. Try to get them used to sharing you with others beforehand. You could do this by reducing the amount of fuss you make over them, or babysit another child at your home.
Dogs and newborns living in the same household can be stressful at first but your pet will adapt!
Make Sure Your Dog And Newborn Get Off On The Right Foot!
They say that first impressions last, and this is true for our pets as well as humans.
While you’ll no doubt be having lots of things going through your mind when you take your baby home for the first time, try and make time to ensure that your pet’s introduction goes as smoothly as possible.
If there’s a way you can control it, try and introduce the baby at a time when your dog isn’t full of energy. The last thing you want is them leaping up on you when you’re showing them the new addition to the family. If you have a dog, you could ask a family member to take them on a long walk just before you get back. For a cat, you can ask your loved one to stimulate them for a while beforehand with their favourite toys.
Greet the animal before you show them the baby to make sure they get a chance to see you first. This way your dog can get all their jumping out the way and you can also assess whether they’re in the right state of mind to be introduced. When you’re ready, sit down holding the baby and allow your dog to sniff and observe from an appropriate distance. You may even want to introduce your pooch to your babies scent beforehand by bringing home one of their onesies to sniff before the formal introduction.
Keep Your Newborn’s Bedroom Private
While you do want your baby and your pet to get along, it’s important that your newborn has privacy in their room. Your baby and your furry companion shouldn’t be spending any time together unsupervised, so by creating this boundary you can ensure that your pet doesn’t make their way into their room while your little one is sleeping.
A good way to enforce this rule is to start before the baby arrives to give your pet time to learn and accept this change.
If you also want to keep your pet out of your own bedroom, you may want to avoid allowing them upstairs altogether. The good news is that with dogs this is relatively easy with a stair gate. Cats are a bit trickier however as most can’t be stopped with a stairgate. In this case, always make sure the door to the baby’s room is closed and listen in with a baby monitor instead. You can also get breathable mesh cot covers in the event that the cat somehow does make its way into the room.
Allow Supervised Interaction
By allowing your dog and child to spend time together, this means that the two won’t just tolerate each other but they’ll get a chance to bond. As well as helping your pooch get used to the new addition to the family, it will also help your baby learn how to behave around animals.
Of course, all interactions between your dog and your baby should be closely supervised by the adults in the house. Even the most trustworthy and gentle of pets still need to be watched, as you never know how your little one may startle the animal.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can help the pair bond whilst supervising their interaction. You could play with bubbles, listen to relaxing music, or go for a long walk together. Even just spending time with the two of them together will help them get used to each other, and maybe even enjoy each other’s company.
Remember to always respect your pets feelings. If they indicate that they don’t want to play or spend time with the little one, never force them too as they’ll associate being around your baby with negative feelings.
Reinforce And Correct Your Dogs Behaviour
Hopefully having a dog and newborn baby together will go as smoothly as possible if you use the above tips.
However, no matter how well your furry friend takes to this adjustment, there will likely be at least a handful of slip ups. So, it’s important to know how you can help your pet improve their behaviour when this happens.
Just like with any other type of training, positive reinforcement really works wonders for pets. By giving them praise, a treat, or whichever type of reward you think they’d respond best to, they will associate their good behaviour with this reward and be more likely to keep it up in future.
When it comes to bad behaviour, physical punishment is never the answer. Try to stay calm and be in control of the situation.Often the best thing to do is ignore bad behaviour, especially when it comes to attention seeking acts.
You may want to try redirecting your pet instead to show them what to do. For example, if they’re chewing on your baby’s toy, replace it with their own instead. But remember you should always use your firm and direct voice if there’s any instance where your baby might be in danger to instantly set a clear boundary for the animal.
Having a dog and newborn in the same house may sometimes feel chaotic, but it will be incredibly rewarding. If you use the tips above, you should be able to help the pair enjoy each other’s company and create a bond that will last for years to come.
Share Your Top Tips Below
Have you been through this experience? Perhaps you’ve got a little human baby on the way. Let us know in the comments below.