The key to getting your dog and child to get along? Plan ahead! Follow our step-by-step guide to introducing your pet to your newborn, starting with what you can do to ease the transition during pregnancy. For many couples, a dog is their first “baby”. And chances are, your dog knows he’s there! Your dog will still be a treasured part of the clan when your son or daughter arrives on the scene, but your routines will change and it can be confusing for your furry friend.
Like babies, dogs love predictability, and “a newborn is a life-changer not only for your life, but for your dog’s,” says Victoria Stilwell, dog trainer and host of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog. Soon he will have to share your adoring attention with a demanding baby, and he will not understand why the long walks he enjoys are getting shorter. If your dog hasn’t attended basic obedience classes yet, it’s time to sign her up. Behaviors that seem harmless now, like jumping up to greet you at the door, can become a problem when you’re eight months pregnant or carrying a baby. An instructor can help fix this.
Many dogs have never been around children before. Little people do unpredictable things that adults don’t, such as making jerky movements, screaming, and getting into dogs’ muzzles. To introduce your pet to toddlers, take him to the park to see how he reacts to toddlers from a distance, Stilwell suggests. Ask mom friends if you can walk next to them when their baby is in a stroller, or if everything is going well, even next to them. This tactic will gradually accustom your dog to the sight and sound of children.