Congratulations! You’re the proud parent of a bouncing little bundle of joy. Chances are you can’t wait to get your newborn home and settled into a life full of love and laughter as an important part of your family. What about your other little bundle though? You know, the fuzzy one. The idea of introducing your new baby to your current one can seem like a daunting task. Just like with any other sibling however, the process isn’t as harsh as you might think and the payout is incredibly sweet.
When you first touch down at home with your baby, chances are your dog is going to be full of energy. They haven’t seen you in a while after all, and you should be sure to give your wound up pup some much needed affection. There are a couple ways to go about this. The first is to have your partner hold on to baby while you let your dog burn off some of that initial thrill of welcoming you back home. Another tactic is to have your baby entourage enter the home first. This will ensure that your dog will still get the much needed “hello” it so desperately craves. When your pooch has had a chance to settle down, take a seat, relax, and get down to business.
Just like any new sight and smell you bring into your household, the dog is going to need to give your baby the sniff test. Babies are curious little creatures after all, and some investigating is certainly in order. Let your pup get a smell of baby’s feet and acquaint themselves. Praise your dog for this behavior and slip them a few treats for being so polite. Remain relaxed and avoid scolding at all costs. You want your dog to associate the baby with positive emotions and not anything that might cause a jealous divide. The more you make your dog and baby comfortable around one another, the easier your transition will be.
Keep in mind that it is perfectly natural to have some nerves about the first impression. Your parental instincts are going full throttle after all, and as much as you love your furry friend there is still bound to be hesitation. If you’re in such a state of mind, there are still steps you can take to ease the tension. Leashing your dog is one way to mitigate any risk and also serves as a symbol of control. If you take this approach, keep the lead short but slack so your dog doesn’t associate such an instance with being reprimanded. You can also have a chew toy or new bone on hand to otherwise occupy an over-stimulated pup. If they get a bit worked up, let them exercise that energy on something tasty and fun.
It’s tempting to focus on your dog primarily while the baby is sleeping, but the opposite is a much better approach. Let your dog be present and paid attention to while you’re caring for baby. If your canine companion knows that the baby’s wakefulness is a sign of good things to come, they’ll be much more likely to love your child and everything that comes with your new parenthood. You can line up feeding times, bring baby along on walks (think about investing in a baby backpack), or even just stroke your pet while holding your newborn. Consistent good impressions are just as important as the first one, and the more you make your dog associate happiness with an awake baby the better.
As always, the key to introducing a newborn to a dog is all in your presentation. If you’re relaxed and comfortable with your dog, they will act accordingly. Using these simple strategies and maintaining a healthy environment for both your little bundles will ensure that those first impressions lead to a great relationship that will last for years to come.
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