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How do you introduce a dog to a baby?

Q

Just wondering what the best way to introduce our one year old cavachon, to a newborn baby? We’re due our first in the next few weeks and the dog has been particularly clingy to me in the last week or so. She barks when my husband even gives me a hug!! What’s the best way to introduce the baby when he/she arrives?

A

Very exciting times ahead for yourself, your husband and the dog!

While many dogs seem to have nanny-like sensitivity and tenderness around babies, this is not “automatic” by any means. Dogs that are not familiar with babies do not necessarily see them as little people, and they may be frightened, nervous or excited by them when they first see them.

For this reason, during a first pregnancy, if there is a dog in the house, you should introduce them to other people’s babies so that they are familiar with the idea. You might also use a recording of baby noises (crying etc) to play in the background sometimes so that your dog is used to this. Some people even use life-like baby dolls to get the dog used to the concept of you carrying something around. You might also use some of the baby’s lotions, powders etc on yourself so that the dog gets used to the new scents. And when the baby has been born, bring back some of the baby’s blankets/ clothing before the baby comes back so that the dog becomes familiar with the scent before meeting.

Also, be aware that the dog’s daily routine will inevitably change dramatically when the baby arrives, which can be stressful for the animal. So pre-empt that several months in advance, changing the routine to a new one that you will be able to continue once the baby has arrived. If you cannot commit to walking the dog for at least half an hour twice a day, organise doggy daycare or a walker to make sure that she has plenty of exercise.

To learn more about dogs and children, see this link https://www.learnwithdogstrust.ie/be-dog-smart/

It can be a tricky time for all but it is usually very rewarding for everyone in the end, when it goes well.

If you are worried about your pet's health, visit the Petfix DIY Triage Checker or talk to your vet as soon as possible.