Introducing a Baby
If you are expecting a baby, it will pay to prepare your dog ahead of the infant’s arrival. The ideal attitude for a dog to have with a baby is to pay it little attention and be relaxed in its presence, so spend time in the preceding weeks familiarising your dog with the new routines.
After the baby’s arrival, the dog’s life will change in many ways, so it is only fair that he should be prepared for the transition. You can teach him to walk with a buggy and you may wish to introduce him to a head collar for this purpose. You may find it useful to buy a life size doll to carry around and also introduce him to the cot, pushchair, changing mat and any other baby paraphernalia. Sprinkle baby powder into your skin so that he is familiar with baby smells (or at least the more pleasant ones!).
Time will be short when the baby arrives, so introduce the dog to a realistic walking routine ahead of time. He will also need to learn that he will not be the centre of attention so give him time on his own and gradually accustom him to spending less time with you. If he is crate trained, it may help to reintroduce it so that he can be placed there at busy times. Use the time before the baby arrives to put your new routines into practise. If you wait until the baby is born, the dog may find the transition very stressful.
When the baby is born, her clothes (carrying her scent) can be put on the doll; this will help you to gauge your dog’s attitude to a more realistic “baby”. He should be allowed to sniff but too much interest should not be encouraged.
The dog must see the baby as a positive experience, so take care not to punish your dog for inappropriate behaviour. Training done prior to the arrival of the baby will pay dividends in the busy time ahead.
We recommend buying this book by Silvia Hartmann-Kent.