Six ‘must dos’ when introducing your dog to your new baby

Six ‘must dos’ when introducing your dog to your new baby The way you introduce a baby into your home when you already have a dog can make a big difference to how they get along down the track. Here are our six top tips on how you can prepare for this and help build a positive relationship between them.
  1. Ensure your dog has basic training: This should already be the case but if it’s not, you need to fix that before you bring a baby home. Basic behavioural skills like not nipping people, not jumping on people, sitting, coming when called, and understanding “no” are all crucial to have before the baby arrives.
  1. Practice: Socialise your dog as much as possible. This includes strangers, other dogs and particularly with babies or toddlers of friends and family.
  1. Touching: Your baby is going to touch your dog in places it isn’t used to and may not like. For example, in between its paws, in the ears, pulling the tail etc. Get your dog used to this by spending a couple of minutes several times a day touching, patting and pulling your dog in ways that a baby might.
  1. Smell: Before it comes home from the hospital, bring home an item with your baby’s scent (like a blanket or singlet). Allow your dog to gently smell the item under your control and supervision so it can adjust to the new scent. Make sure you don’t just throw the item on the floor and let your dog smell and chew it as this is not the lesson we are trying to teach!
  1. Don’t forget your dog: You don’t want the dog to begin to resent the baby for taking all the attention. Maintain your normal routine with the dog such as daily walks, regular pats and attention! If you’re a dog owner whose life revolves around the dog 24-7, and you don’t think you can continue that once you have a baby as well, you may want to consider gradually cutting down on the attention you give your dog before the baby arrives.
  1. Always supervise your baby with your dog: No matter how ‘safe’ a breed your dog is and how docile it’s always been, it’s very important to always be close by and keep an eye on your baby when he or she is playing with your dog. Babies can have amazing relationships with all breeds of dog, but the two should never be left alone together.
You know your dog better than most. If any part of you is nervous, consult a specialist! If you do these things well, it should help your dog form a very loving and protective relationship with your baby. Just wait to see how much your dog starts loving the baby after it realises the baby is an endless source of dropped food!