Allowing your fur baby to meet your actual baby can be a worrying moment. Wanting the whole family to be friends is totally normal but, sometimes, it can be tricky for dogs to get used to someone invading their territory. So, how can you manage the moment your new baby and your dog meet?
Dogs are pack animals, so they are used to a hierarchy. Before the arrival of your bubba, your dog would have been in a higher position. He now needs to get used to things being a bit different.
The attention he has always received will be shared with your new baby and he probably won’t like it much to start with. Thankfully, dogs are generally pretty flexible and responsive, so with a bit of preparation and focus, Fido will be delighted with his new friend.
If you have read our article, Preparing Pets For A Baby, you will have already started training your dog for the new arrival to your family. It’s important that you start to prepare your fur baby before you bring your bubba home.
Key areas to focus on are:
- Loud noises. Dogs have super sensitive ears so a crying baby will be a shock. Try playing clips of a baby crying to let Fido (and you) get used to the sounds.
- Smells. Dog’s noses are also super sensitive so give them a chance to sniff baby lotions, creams, and other products to get them familiar with the different scents.
- Attention. Your dog has probably been used to getting lots of play and attention. It might be hard to start with, but ignoring them, or making them wait for your attention, will help them prepare for less when the baby comes.
Dog behavior with a new baby
When you introduce your fur baby to your new baby, the chances are your dog will be over-excitable. Dogs are naturally curious, and they will want to explore the strange addition to their home.
It’s important that you keep Fido calm before he meets your baby. Try taking him for a walk first so he is worn out or using a cheeky treat to calm him down. The first meeting should ideally be as calm as possible so neither Fido, nor your bubba, get upset.
When you are ready for your new baby and your dog to meet, it is usually best to keep your dog on a leash to start with, so you remain in control. Keep your voice low and clear, reassuring both Fido and your little one.
Furbabies love a good sniff so don’t be surprised if your dog immediately goes straight to smelling your bubba. If you have prepared your dog by getting them used to the smells, they should be quite relaxed.
At all times, watch your dog’s reaction to the baby. If there are any signs of Fido being distressed or aggressive, move him away immediately and see if he settles down. You can always try again later.
Aggression and anxiety
Sometimes dogs can exhibit signs of aggression. If your dog is aggressive towards your new baby, it could be because he is anxious.
If your baby is the first child your dog has interacted with, it is likely Fido will be uncertain about the tiny human that has appeared in his home. Baby wriggling, gurgling and crying can be confusing for a dog and they might just need time to get used to the new addition to the family.
It can be hard to recognize whether your dog is aggressive or anxious and, as his owner, you will be the best judge of Fido’s emotional state. It is likely you will have seen your dog anxious or aggressive before and will know the signs for each emotion.
If you think your dog is being aggressive and your usual strategies don’t work, you can always invest in some additional training with a professional. You can find more information on the ASPCA’s Dog Training page.
If your dog is anxious around your new baby, you may need to give him some time and space. Never force your dog to interact with a baby; he will approach your bubba in his own time.
To gently encourage contact, use praise and rewards when your dog responds positively to the baby. Allow your dog to sniff around the baby or sniff your hand when you’ve touched the baby as this will make your dog more used to the smells. Before long, your new baby and your dog will start to get used to each other.
Signs your dog is jealous of your new baby
Dogs often show signs of jealousy when a new baby arrives. It is a common dog behavior with a new baby. After all, they have been used to having all the attention and now they have to share it.
Typical behaviors that show jealousy include barking and growling; repeatedly demanding attention by doing tricks; peeing or pooping inside; refusing to leave your side; and isolating themselves away in a different room.
Most of the behaviors are normal and will subside after Fido gets used to things. Deal with the behavior firmly but remain calm. If your dog is agitated, shouting will not help. Be as positive as you can with your dog and reward good behavior enthusiastically.
Your dog will still need some attention so make sure they still get a chance to play and get lots of cuddles. If you show your dog you still love him just as much, he should stop being so jealous.
Newborn baby and dog hair
New parents often worry about newborn babies and dog hair. As all dog owners know, dog hair can spread everywhere.
There has been an ongoing concern that pet hair increases a baby’s chance of developing asthma and/or increases the chance of developing allergies.
More recent studies have discovered that children with pets have stronger immune systems resulting in them being healthier.
However, to be safe, and avoid any potential health issues, it’s best to keep dog hair short and hoover it up regularly.
Dog nipping at new baby
One of the reasons a dog nips is to show who is in charge; dogs often like to dominate. Reprimand this behavior immediately, making it clear it is unacceptable.
Sometimes a dog ‘nips’ during play, when he becomes overexcited. Again, it is important to make it clear that nipping at your new baby is not allowed.
Encourage your dog to be gentle with your baby by modeling the right behavior and using positive rewards.
Note: Never leave a dog alone with a baby, even if they seem perfectly relaxed. It is not worth the risk to your baby, or your dog.
Moving Forward with Your New Baby and Your Dog
It may take your dog time to understand how to act around a baby. A new baby is a big change for a dog too. Unlike humans, they can’t communicate how they feel so it can be hard for owners to know what to do.
They key thing is to be patient and stay positive. You are getting used to having a new baby and so is your dog.
Some dogs will take longer than others to adjust but most dogs will adjust and happily accept their new family member.
Do you any tips for helping a dog get used to a new baby?
Share in the comments below!