Before you got pregnant, you decided to do a test run with a fur baby first. Perhaps unexpectedly, you fell in love. Your dog is now such an integral part of your family that you cannot imagine life without him.
Now, however, you're getting ready to bring home a new human. This can upset the delicate balance you have established between you, your partner, and your dog, but it doesn't have to be a disaster. Keeping these simple tips in mind can help make the transition from three to four an easy one.
Care During Labor and Delivery
First things first, be sure you set up some kind of pet care for when you are in the hospital. Under some circumstances, like an induction or scheduled C-section, you may know exactly when you are giving birth.
If you go into labor unexpectedly, though, you'll want to have someone you can call in a pinch. Sure, your partner can go home at some point to take care of the dog, but you won't want him to. Make sure your dog care has a key and is available.
Dogs learn about people and other animals by their scents, so introducing the scent first is a good way to get your dog ready to meet the new baby. If you think about it, this is exactly what you'd do if you were introducing your dog to another dog; let the dogs sniff each other first to get acquainted. Thus, be sure you do this with your baby's scent, too.
Come in while holding the baby and let your dog greet you. Share some kind words with your dog to let him know you didn't forget about him. Then, carefully introduce the baby. Your dog will sniff the new little one, which is fine.
Just keep a close eye on the dog to be sure there are no signs of aggression. If your dog behaves well, give him a treat. Reinforce positive behavior every time your dog and baby interact for the first few days after you get home from the hospital.
You will be the primary caretaker of the baby for a while now - especially if you are nursing - and you need your rest. This is where your partner comes in; dog care should be mostly his responsibility, so you can do what you need to do to be sure your baby and you are cared for.
Don't stay cooped up in your house, though. If the weather is nice, put the baby in a stroller or sling and take a walk with your partner and the dog. If you don't have a partner, consider hiring a dog walker or having a friend help you out for a couple of weeks.
Once the baby comes home, you should never leave the newborn alone with the dog. See to it that the initial meeting between them is calm and positive. Closely supervise them in order to prevent any mishap. Set boundaries for the dog and restrict him from going near the nursery or play area.
Since you're aware of your dog's personality, try and praise the dog and make him feel that he is important part of your life. When the baby is about 4 months old, teach your baby to be gentle with the dog.
Also, know that sometimes your dog will need to be separated from the situation with your baby, and that's OK, too. If the baby crying creates a lot of anxiety for your dog, for example, you may want to put the dog in another room for a while to avoid further stress on you.
Adding a baby to your family can be a stressful event, but when it comes to introducing your dog, it doesn't have to be. Just remember to reinforce good behavior and take things slowly. It's an adjustment for everyone, including your furry friend.