When we found out we were pregnant, I didn’t know how our dog would handle it.
At the time, our then two-year-old French Bulldog Reggie was our only “child,” and he definitely got all of our attention. Someone was always with Reggie, all of the time. With the idea of a baby coming and taking attention away from Reggie, I was pessimistic that he’d come around to his new human sibling.
When Reggie met Carson
I won’t lie. Reggie has definitely acted like a toddler/jealous older brother when it comes to having his human brother in his life. He even gets “mad” at Carson for playing with his toys, by looking at me and whining when it happens. (“Mom, do something! Those are MY toys!, kind of thing). But luckily, he has never acted aggressively towards Carson, nor has he ever bit him. He did well even when Carson poked or hit while learning to pat gently. Here’s how we helped foster their relationship (which is best described as Carson loves Reggie, but Reggie is very tolerant of Carson). There are many useful tips for introducing your dog to your new baby.
Before the baby arrives
Allow your dog to spend time in the nursery before the baby comes
Let your dog check out the nursery, as well as sniff and roll around on the carpet and rugs. We even let Reggie sleep in the glider from time to time. This will let your fur baby get used to the room during a peaceful and relaxing time.
Do some last-minute training
If your dog has any lingering behavioral issues that might be problematic with a new baby, enroll in obedience training or work with a reputable trainer before you give birth. Typically, issues don’t disappear overnight, even with a great dog trainer. Try to enroll your dog three to six months before your due date to make sure the training sticks.
Spend as much time with your dog as you can
Everyone’s world will be rocked once your baby arrives, and you’ll never be able to spend as much one-on-one time with your dog again. Do all the things you love to do with them. Play fetch, go on walks, cuddle – and talk about the new baby coming to try to prep them for a change. Dogs understand more than you think!
Introducing your dog to your new baby for the first time
Bring the baby’s scent home
Have dad or the grandparents bring something that smells like the baby (blanket, hat, onesie, etc.) home before bringing the baby home. Put this item in your dog’s bed and make sure your dog sniffs it to get used to your baby’s scent.
Give your dog treats when your baby is around
Hold your baby while giving treats or as you feed your dog. They will help your dog to associate the new baby with something positive.
Give your dog lots of play
On the day you bring your baby home, make sure your dog has lots of walks or active play before you arrive. Maybe he goes to a dog day camp for the morning or has a dog playdate with a neighbor. A really long walk can ensure so that they are ready to rest when they’re back home and not hyper upon meeting the new baby.
Similarly, the newborn phase is going to take some getting used to, and everyone’s routine will be thrown for the loop. If you’re normally the one who walks your dog twice a day, that routine will probably change for a bit. Hire someone to walk your dog during your maternity leave to keep your dog’s regular routine while you get used to your new day-to-day routine with a newborn. You may even want to keep the dog walker after your maternity leave is over. With sleep regressions, naptime refusal, etc., you might want to catch up on sleep some days – or just do other things – instead of walk your fur baby.
Love both of your babies
It can be tough making the transition from dog(s) to newborn, but with some prep, your dog will learn to love their human sibling. Some dogs are more maternal or protective of babies, and some could care less (this is Reggie). Both are normal. But if your dog ever acts aggressively towards your baby, contact an animal behavioral expert so that you can mitigate the behavior.