Before my daughter came along we had our Saint Bernard, black lab mix, Jack. He is an awesome dog, and we are so lucky to have him. Like all dogs he has his quirks, and he’s not perfectly trained. The skill he is really the best at is doing any command on the
first, second, third, fourth try.
Because Jack wasn’t necessarily the perfect dog to bring a baby home to, I was a little worried about how he would get along with this new human that would be entering our home, but more importantly his home. He’s always been great with other kids in the neighborhood, but I thought I would do a little research on bringing a new baby home with a dog. Some things I found helpful; some not so much. Here are four things that worked well in our experience with bringing a baby home to our dog.
Prepare a little ahead of time.
I read you should walk the dog with the stroller a few times to get him used to how future walks might be. Let me tell you, it was good practice for both dog and mama. If your dog needs to be on a leash it’s good practice to figure out how you’re going to maneuver everything. We have a regular leash, but we also had a retractable leash. I found the retractable leash gave him more room, and he wasn’t forced to be close to the moving stroller all the time.
We also let Jack into the nursery a lot. Sometimes we would even bring him in there to play on the rug and show him it’s a fun space. To this day it’s one of his favorite places to relax. We also set up some of the baby items around the house (pack ‘n play, swing, etc.) to get him used to where some of these things would go.
I was told it’s good to let the dog smell some of the baby toys or clothes that had been washed in baby laundry detergent to get him used to new smells. Dogs are very keen to smells, so I’d like to think that this really prepared him for the newest arrival.
Don’t change the dogs designated space.
I know that babies come with a ton of stuff, but do your best to keep the dog items in the same places. This could include dog bed, food location, where the toys are kept, or even some of his favorite places to lay. At one point we thought we might move the basket of dog toys to a new spot, but we found he never touched them and instead started going up to the nursery and stealing baby toys. Once we moved his toys back it definitely helped make him feel at home again. He may steal an occasional baby toy here and there…
Have a fun, safe greeting when baby first arrives.
This helps if both parents are available. Let one parent hold the baby, while the other can worry about the dog. Try to stay very calm and excited to show the dog that this is a very exciting thing that’s happening. If the dog keeps getting too excited or aggressive just keep taking baby away and trying again. At some point the dog is likely to lose a little energy and sniff baby to see what this new adventure is all about.
Always give the dog an escape route.
This is more for when the baby is at a crawling or walking point. Most likely your baby will want to play or crawl on your dog. In our experience our dog did not mind this with our daughter. He was so gentle as she tugged on his ear and pulled his tail. He took it like a champ.
There was one time he was trapped between her, her toy basket, and the couch. He had no way to escape. She began really tugging at him and he was sick of it with nowhere to go, so he barked really loud at her. Fortunately our daughter thought this was hilarious, but my husband and I could see the possibly of this escalating quickly. We let Jack out so he could get away, and he stayed in the other room for a little while.
After that we learned to always make sure he has a way to get out of a situation. If he is trapped or stuck with the baby we move something, or move her to make sure that if Jack is done being poked and prodded that he has a way to get out. This has made life easier for him, and safer for our daughter.
We are very lucky to have a dog who is so well behaved and loves our daughter. I hope that these tips will help you adjust to this exciting, new time in your life.