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Introducing the Family Dog to the New Baby

Dog meets baby.  Bringing baby home to meet the beloved family pet for the first time can be a fun event.  But even if you have the sweetest dog in the entire world, you still need to take it slow when they meet for the first time.  You are introducing something new to your pet’s territory and they need to learn the new boundaries.  Follow these steps for the easiest transition possible for your pet:

1.  Decide the rules

Before you even step foot through the door with your newborn, you should have a plan as to what boundaries you will have for your dog.  Will he be allowed to sniff at baby’s face?  Can he go into the baby nursery?  You may also need to think about making some purchases, such as a bark collar if your dog likes to bark and you don’t want it to scare of wake baby from a nap.  Having a clear plan ahead of time will make setting up boundaries easier and less confusing for your pet. 

2.  The introduction

The key thing to remember here is take it slow!  Maybe your dog has never seen a baby before.  Even if your dog is usually mellow, you need to be careful.  And even more so if your dog is high strung or unpredictable.  Start by letting the dog sniff one of the baby’s blankets.  Speak with a calm, reassuring voice the entire time.  Once you think you’re ready, bring the baby into the picture.  If both parents are present, one should hold the baby and the other the dogs collar to steady the dog from jumping or rushing the baby.  Again, once you think the dog is ready, with the other person still holding the collar, let the dog sniff at baby’s feet.  Remember to keep speaking calmly to the dog.  I would recommend not allowing the dog to sniff or lick baby’s face.    Take every precaution no matter how much you think you trust your dog. 

3.  Pay attention!

The real test begins in the following weeks and months after the initial introduction.  Even if everything went good at the first meeting, it is best to continue to keep a very close eye on your dog’s behavior around baby.  If you sense any form of aggressive behavior, it will need to be headed off immediately.  If your dog has aggressive tendancies, you may need to consider placing him in a new home.  And even if your dog is very gentle, you will need to watch to make sure he doesn’t try to play rough with baby.  Your dog needs to learn that he can approach baby only when you give the okay.

These steps worked great when we introduced our dog to baby.  Our dog learned quickly what the boundaries were, and they have had a slow but healthy introduction ever since.  Just take it slow and be careful in the process.  Baby’s safety is the most important part!

What tips do you have for introducing the family pet to the new baby?

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