Your Other Baby Comes Home

How to have a smooth transition: some suggestions on introducing your new baby to the family dog.

Before you go to the hospital, carry a large stuffed toy around in your arms to simulate the baby. This will help your pet to get use to seeing you holding something in your arms often.

As you are preparing baby’s room, let your pet into the room to smell all the baby-type smells. After the baby has been born, have someone take an article of clothing the baby has used back to your pet to let him investigate and get used to the new arrival’s smell.

Have a special rug or blanket for your dog to lie on in the baby’s room and train him to go there every time you are in the room, as dogs are social creatures. This will also teach the dog that your newborn is not in competition for your attention.

Watch for jealousy and always be with the baby and pet to supervise. Never leave the two alone together!

Have a special time for just you and the dog(s) or cat(s) – a walk or play in the park, petting him while he is next to you watching TV or working. Have this at about the same time as the pet will be looking forward to it.

Let your pet sleep in or next to your bed. This will help the dog or cat feel that a new baby is not a big change.

Be generous with treats for good behavior and attention for your pet.

When people are coming to see the baby, have the company also pay attention to the pet(s) by giving them treats, petting and talking to them. Again, dogs consider themselves a part of the human pack.

To avoid problems,if your pet enjoys toys that squeak, rattle or jingle, do not use these toys for the baby as the dog could want the toy.

As the baby gets older, teach the baby to stay away from your pet(s) meal dishes and treats. This will prevent bites, other problems and teach your child how to handle pets. Dogs at this stage consider infants and small children as playmates and equals. This seems to change at about ages 10 to 12, if the child was taught how to handle dogs correctly.

Finally, know about what your pet will do. With good preparation and supervision, your family can live together happily ever after.