What are some things you can do in the weeks leading up to bringing baby home that can make the introduction go more smoothly?
It’s important to remember that dogs handle change in different ways, some better than others. First, know your dog and how he responds to new people and situations. Then take some of the following steps to help him feel better about your new addition. A good time to start is about 6-8 weeks before bringing baby home — take longer if your dog needs more time to adjust.
Introduce baby sounds to the home
Your dog’s sense of hearing is much better than a human’s so start with a low volume, gradually increasing to a level similar to a new baby. Use crying sounds, toys that make sound, and music that you might be playing. Associate these noises with a treat or toy for a fun experience.
Introduce baby items to the home
Bring in the baby’s car seat and stroller. Let your dog know that these are not his items, but that they are not to be feared. Help them to learn when and how to approach these items before the baby is actually in them.
Set limits for your dog on where he can go and when he will be invited in. The baby’s room is a good place to start teaching these limits, not allowing him to enter unless invited. The couch is another place to require an invitation. Setting these expectations will help eliminate surprises.
Carry around a doll
Carrying around a doll will help your dog get used to a small human in the area, and will help you set the boundaries needed to keep your baby safe.
Once baby comes home, remember to always supervise interactions with your dog. Even the friendliest dog can be unpredictable and will need time to adjust to a new baby.
Read Part 1 for some ideas about getting to know your dog better.