When you first learn that you are expecting, you can help but to wonder what good friends your baby and your dog will be. You can’t wait for all the photo ops and for your pup to wear a “Big Brother” or “Big Sister” shirt (PS: What a cute birth announcement idea!).
Soon enough, your fur child and actual child will get to meet, and your family will feel complete.
You are looking forward to the day when you bring your baby home from the hospital, and your dog gets to welcome them into their new home. You may wonder what this meeting will look like. Will your dog and baby be fast friends, or will they take some time to get to know each other?
Let’s chat about tips for how to introduce your baby and family dog to each other.
Can Dogs Detect Pregnancy?
When you first find out you are expecting, your dog may already have an inkling that there is going to be a big change. Some people say that their dog started to act differently around the time they found out they were pregnant.
This may be due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, which can change the mother’s scent. This slight change in scent may only be detectable by the super-sensitive nose of your furchild.
Along with detecting a change in the mother’s scent, your dog may start to be more clingy and follow you around. They may also cuddle up to mom’s growing baby bump. Of course, some dogs may not notice a difference, and there is no current scientific proof that this is a fact.
Yet, we know that dogs' noses can detect blood sugar changes or if someone is going to experience a seizure. It may not be such a long stretch to think that your dog is anticipating a change if they start acting differently.
How To Prepare for Your Baby’s Arrival
As you prepare your household for your new arrival, your pup will be sure to notice new furniture and objects coming into the home. Creating a positive association with any of your baby’s items with your dog can help them feel calm and comforted by the sight of them coming into the home.
Allow your dog to sniff any items that you bring into the home so they can get used to these new objects in the home. It will be your ultimate decision if you decide to allow your dog into your baby’s nursery. You may decide that you want to allow your dog into the nursery but not near the baby’s crib or bassinet.
Keep a close eye on your dog when you are in the nursery, and gently remind your dog that these areas are no-go zones. When you are not in the nursery, keep the door shut so your dog can recognize that this is a protected space where they cannot freely roam.
If possible, take your dog for walks with the empty stroller. This will help your dog get used to the stroller, which is vital before you bring a new baby home.
How To Introduce Your New Baby to Your Dog: Step-by-Step
The big day is here!
1. Introduce the Baby’s Scent
As you welcome your baby into the world, the moment where your dog meets your baby is coming closer. If you have a family member going home to let your dog out and fill their bowls, have them take a baby blanket or a piece of clothing they have worn. Allowing your dog to smell this blanket or clothing will allow them the chance to really take in your baby’s scent.
2. Go on a Pre-Meeting Walk
When your baby is ready to come home, have someone take your dog for a nice, long walk before making the grand introduction. This will ensure that your dog has had ample exercise time to get all of their energy out and that they are feeling calm.
Your dog will likely be able to detect your baby’s scent in the home, but since they have already had a chance to smell their blanket or clothing, this will be a scent that they are familiar with.
3. Introduce the Missing Pet Parent First
Allow mom to walk through the door first and love on the dog with plenty of pets and rubs. They have likely missed her and will want to be the best welcoming committee they can be.
Whoever is holding the baby should be in a calm, relaxed state. Our dogs can sense our energy and we don’t want this moment to be influenced by overexcitement or nervous feelings.
4. Meet and Greet: Safety First
It may be helpful to leash your dog, just in case they get too excited about meeting their human sibling and need to take a breather. Keep things light and slow; your dog and baby will have plenty of time to get to know each other.
Allow your dog to sniff and inspect, but you are the best judge of how physically close you want your dog to get to your baby. Keep an eye on your dog’s behavior and body language to ensure that they are feeling comfortable and secure.
Although our dog may want to share the love, avoid allowing your dog to lick your baby. Their mouths have bacteria that your baby has not been exposed to, and we want to avoid any germs being swapped since your baby’s immune system is still new and developing.
Dogs Love Routine (and So Do People)
As you settle into your baby’s routine, don’t forget about your dog’s routine. They’ll still need walks and plenty of belly scratches from you. Spending a few minutes of undivided attention with your pooch can let them know that you have a special place in your heart for them, no matter what.
Giving your dog plenty of opportunities to get their energy out ensures that they don’t get too excited in the house. It might be helpful to enlist your local dog walker to make sure your dog gets out all the energy they need. Some dog breeds might need more exercise than others; for example, German Shepherds thrive with plenty of engaging exercises and mental stimulation.
Mental stimulation can help keep your dog occupied like you are feeding or bathing your baby. Treat toys and puzzle toys will help keep your four-legged pal busy and out from under your feet as you carry your baby around (or keep your pooch quiet as the baby naps).
Speaking of treats, some dogs are agitated or distressed when listening to a baby’s cry (and who can blame them?). Some pet parents find it helpful to give a treat to their dog when the baby makes any noises to create a positive association. You can also play compilation videos of crying babies to introduce the sound gently.
If you need a little assistance, reach out to an animal behaviorist or professional dog trainer to help acclimate your dog to young children and your oh-so-cute baby.
Continue the Friendship: Dog Care and Baby Care
As your newborn baby grows, it is important to teach them how to treat their furry family member. Show your baby how to gently pet and love on the dog and not to pull their snout, ears, or tail — You are raising the next generation of dog lovers!
When your dog and baby are together, make sure to always keep them both under close supervision. We love our dogs and trust them, but sometimes they may want to cuddle to show their love and may get too close to the baby. We also want to prevent any accidental fur or tail pulling.
If you are multitasking, using a crate or a playpen is a great way to keep your dog and small children separate from each other within the same room. If you do decide to crate your dog, make sure they have plenty of treats to make it a positive thing. Don’t allow your baby to stick their fingers or arms through the crate.
It will be so much fun to watch your human baby and furbaby bond and have fun together. The photo ops will be so adorable as they become each other’s buddy.
Stay Relaxed with PAWZ
Bringing a new addition into the world will have you up at all hours of the night, and hanging out around the house more than ever if you are on parental leave. It may be easy to stay in your pajamas all day, but sometimes we do need to get dressed to run errands and get out of the house.
PAWZ has you covered with our tees, crewnecks, and hoodies that you’ll need to stay comfy while you take care of your newest addition. Although you are a new parent to your baby, you were a pet parent first; you can show that love for your first furchid with our collections of Dog Mom and Dog Dad apparel.
You’ll look great repping your dog while out and about with your new family member. You’ll also feel great knowing that every purchase that you make with PAWZ helps dogs in need of their furever homes.
We don’t like to think about it, but the plain truth is that there are dogs in shelters out there that are in need of homes. This is a cause close to our hearts. We want to help all the dogs find homes that are as warm and loving as yours.
We created PAWZ to raise awareness and money to help save dogs’ lives. We are proud supporters of no-kill shelters and animal welfare organizations. We donate 10% of our net profits to local and national no-kill shelters and organizations like Best Friends Animal Society.
Wearing PAWZ is a total win-win. Not only do you get adorable, dog-themed apparel, but you also spark awareness and raise funds for an important cause close to all of our hearts. As an added plus, as your baby grows bigger, they’ll be able to rep their own PAWZ shirts to show their love for their furry big bro or sis.
It’s simple: PAWZ keeps you stylish, and you’re helping Best Friends make our country no-kill for shelter pets.