Bringing Home Your Newborn to Your Dog for the First Time
Advice & Tips by Dr. Jacqueline Nicholson of Valley Cottage Animal Hospital, NY
You’ve spent the past several months carefully planning for the arrival of your new baby — selecting furniture for the nursery, researching the perfect crib, buying curtains with little sheep on them and you even painted the room a soothing robin’s egg blue. The day arrives and it’s time to take your new treasure home in that carefully selected infant car seat which is properly installed.
However, there might be one detail you overlooked. What about the dog?
New parents have a lot of preparing, planning and pondering to do, so sometimes it can be easy to forget to prep your pooch for baby’s big arrival.
But your four-legged friend shouldn’t be forgotten–and the preparation should probably start well before you introduce your baby to your best furry friend for the first time.
Here is a look at some invaluable pet info about how you can prepare to introduce your dog to the newest member of your family:
1) Start early
Nine months can go by in the blink of an eye. That’s why it’s important to start preparing your pet for baby’s arrival as early as possible.
When you find out you’re expecting, it might be a good time to enroll in an obedience class with your dog. Even a basic obedience class for any age dog can help correct some behavioral issues that may not be a problem now but could become one once baby arrives, such as jumping up to greet you, jumping on furniture, or playful nipping.
You might also begin designating specific areas where your dog can be and blocking off others before your new baby is in the house.
2) Role play
This idea might seem a bit “out there,” but it’s one of those pieces of pet info that can make it a lot easier to bring baby into your home: role play.
Get a doll and treat it as you would an infant. Set up a bassinet, crib and swing and use them with the doll as you will your new baby. Put the doll in your stroller and take it–and your dog–for a walk. It can also be helpful to begin using some of the products that you will use on your baby so they can get accustomed to the new smells way ahead of time and have someone bring home a burp cloth that you use in the hospital so your dog can smell it ahead of time.
Dogs are creatures of habit and routine, and role playing is a great way to introduce your furry friend to new habits and routines before baby arrives.
3) Prep for the big day
Whether you are scheduling a C-section or waiting for your baby and body to make a decision about your delivery date, you’re going to want to prepare for the big day – with your dog in mind.
This means making sure that you have someone lined up to take care of your dog, dividing food into individual servings, writing down important pet info and phone numbers for emergency contacts, and organizing the leash, medicines and toys to make sure they are easily available.
The goal is to keep your dog’s routine in order and minimize the amount of anxiety she or he feels with you suddenly gone for a few days.
4) Take it slow
When you come home from the hospital, you’re probably going to be excited to introduce your dog to the newest member of the family.
Fight that urge.
Instead, take it nice and slow. Greet your dog without baby first, so you can get all the licks, pets and pampering out of the way and so your pet doesn’t feel any jealousy, this will also reduce some of the natural curiosity and excitement over that new ‘toy’ you are carrying. After a little while, bring baby in, sit down somewhere comfortable and let your dog sniff the little one.
Have treats on hand to reward your pooch when he or she reacts in a calm manner and listens to your commands. is calm.
5) Keep the peace
Now that your baby’s home, the hard part begins. It’s probably going to take a lot of work to keep the peace.
This could include setting up safety gates so you can sometimes separate your baby and your dog, having plenty of play toys on hand so your dog is less likely to chew on your child’s belongings; should you find your pet with your baby’s toy, don’t scold, simply remove it and replace it with one of his or her own.
Babies, toddlers and dogs can make great playmates but it can take some time for your loyal four-legged friend to feel comfortable. Make sure you still make some time to walk your dog, play catch and interact. And always supervise your baby or young child with your pet to ensure that each respects the other’s space.
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Valley Cottage Animal Hospital, located in Valley Cottage, New York, was recently named one of the Top Four Animal Hospitals in North America by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). They are the first Animal Hospital in the New York Metro area to ever receive this prestigious recognition. The Hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides medical care to dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, pocket pets, snakes and more. As a full-service veterinary clinic, Valley Cottage Animal Hospital provides wellness exams, vaccinations, diagnostic care and surgical procedures as well as 24/7 emergency care and offers a mobile care van for home visits. Valley Cottage Animal Hospital offers house call appointments utilizing a Mobile Vet Clinic to perform routine health examinations at clients’ homes. For more information visit www.valleycottageanimalhospital.com or call (845) 268-9263.