The big day has arrived and you are wondering exactly how it is going to go and how best to make the introductions of your baby and dog. Although this is a time many mothers worry about, most dogs, though curious,will graciously accept this new being. With the previous pre-introduction suggestions firmly underway you should feel confident that this will go smoothly.
Safety First, Foremost and Forever
It is important for your family dog to learn to be calm around your newborn. Even when he is and you are comfortable with them being together, it is important to never leave your baby unattended in the presence of Bowser. Plan ahead what you will do when the doorbell or the phone rings or your attention is diverted when they are together. Consider having several tethers around the house and a comfy bed within reach so that Bowser can be tethered safely away from baby. Baby gates come in handy for those dogs who are not interested in jumping or scaling them. And of course, a crate that he has become accustomed to beforehand. A screen door on baby’s room works well, allowing your dog to hear, smell and see baby without access. Favorite toys that your dog interacts with calmly can be offered when you are changing diapers or bathing baby. Remember that our goal is for Bowser to be calm and feel included.
Handling The Introduction of Bowser to Baby
Arrange for your dog to be exercised and hopefully tired beforehand. Consider hiring a neighborhood child to walk or run with him before you come home. A nice long game of catch works as well. He should have recently eaten and be full, content and tuckered out. This is no time for your dog to be pestering you to throw the ball for him.
Because thresholds or doors are often the site of excitement, arrange it so that the initial meeting does not occur there. Ideally Bowser will be elsewhere when you enter the house and you will have the help of someone. If you are the primary person in Bowser’s life, have someone else hold your baby until after you have had a calm greeting and reuniting with your dog. If you have been in the hospital for a day or two you are likely to smell differently so allow him a moment of sniffing you over without your baby in your arms.
Consider arranging an introduction while your baby is asleep. In this way you can be attentive to your dog while he is getting his first eyeful.
Remain calm and quiet and refrain from using an excited high pitched voice. Watch your dog carefully and if he becomes too excited or uncomfortable remove him from the situation. This first introduction will set the tone.
If your dog is overly excited (or your baby is overly excited) postpone the actual introduction. There is no reason to hurry this.
Ideally, two people will be present.With Bowser on leash, and in a calm sit/stay, reward him with petting.
Slowly bring your baby closer. As long as your baby and Bowser are calm they can remain close. He should be close enough to smell but not close enough to bite. This should be repeated several times during the first day. Use your discretion as to how close you allow them based on your dog’s level of excitement and your knowledge of his temperament.
After several introductions, if your dog is not overly excited, you may repeat these steps off leash.
If this goes well the next step is to allow Bowser more freedom and to wander loose while you are tending to your baby.
There is no set timeline for all this to happen. Most dogs adjust within a few days, though others may need weeks. And if your dog is not interested, do not force the issue. There is plenty of time for them to get to know each other later.
You will no doubt have many visitors coming to see your new baby. Have cookie jars with yummies strategically placed around your house so that when vistiors come to oooooh and aaaaahh they can easily say hello first to your dog and offer up a tantalizing cookie. Favorite toys that they can interact with alone can be offered by your guests. Put them up or switch them out frequently so they don’t become “old hat.”