If you’ve had a dog for a long time and you’re expecting your first child, you may be asking yourself is a dog safe with a newborn?
However, if you are careful to introduce your baby to your pet properly and to supervise their interaction, there is no reason why you should feel the need to rehome your pet.
Preparing Your Dog for Your New Addition
When you bring your new infant home, your pooch is going to have to deal with a whole new set of smells, sounds, and sights, ones that are completely unfamiliar. If you have an older dog who did not spend time with children as a puppy, she may feel confused and overwhelmed by these new happenings. As well as this, your normal daily routine is about to change drastically, and your pet will not be getting as much of your time and attention as she has been previously used to. You can make sure your dog is safe with your newborn and adjusts as quickly and smoothly as possible by teaching her the skills she will need to interact safely with your newborn. Here are some tips to help you.
- Reinforce good obedience: If your dog needs a training update, take her to a basic obedience class before your child is born. This way, you can make sure that she understands how to come when you call, sit, lie down, and stay, and you won’t have to worry about her jumping on you while you’re holding your infant.
- Make gradual changes: You can also prepare your dog by making slight changes to her routine a little at a time. For example, change the time you take her for a walk and move her bed into a different room. If you make these adjustments before your new addition comes home, your pet won’t associate these changes with your baby.
- Lessen your doggie playtime: You can avoid any loneliness or jealousy by reducing your attention and play two to three weeks before your baby is born. This will help to make sure that your dog is safe with your newborn.
- Get your pooch used to baby sounds and smells: Playing a recording of baby sounds, such as laughing and crying, from time to time, particularly at night, will help your dog acclimate more quickly when your newborn is home. You can do the same with smells by putting baby powder or lotion on an item of baby clothing and letting your pet get used to the scent.
Bringing Your Newborn Home The first time you bring your baby home, it’s a good idea to greet the dog alone, so that she doesn’t get overexcited and jump on you and upset your infant. Allow your dog three to four days to get used to the new sights, sounds and smells before introducing your child in closer proximity.
- Introducing baby: Once your infant has been home for a few days, you can allow your dog to sniff the baby while she is being controlled on her leash. Remember to praise him and pet him for his calm, controlled behavior. Most dogs acclimate quickly but you must always be vigilant to ensure dog is safe with your newborn. Once your pet has got used to this, you can allow her to sniff your baby without a leash. Bear in mind, if your baby suddenly moves or begins to cry, this can startle your pet and she may be uncertain how to behave.
- Give your dog attention too: Try to give your dog as much attention as possible even when you have your baby around. This will prevent your pooch from thinking that she only gets attention when your infant is not in the room.
- Never leave your baby and dog together unattended: No matter how much you trust your dog you should never leave her alone with your baby. Make sure you have a secure and place where you can send your dog to, such as a room closed off with a baby gate or a crate; somewhere she can have some privacy and relaxation if things get too active.
Growing up with a dog is a great opportunity for your child to learn to love and care for animals as well as having a trusted and loyal friend. If you follow the advice above, you can rest assured that your dog is safe with your newborn all the time. Visit Dr. Jeff Werber’s Instagram account (@werbs_dvm) to view and submit questions and answers on weekly AMAs – or call and leave a voicemail at 424-835-0576. Your call will be returned posthaste. For emergencies, download Dr. Jeff Werber’s app Airvet, a video-chat option for veterinary needs at any time of day or night!