Having a baby is one of the most exciting and wonderful experiences for a family. A newborn baby brings immense joy, but it can also bring commotion, sleepless nights, and incredible changes. Some of these changes are unique for a family with a dog. Your dog will notice and react to the addition of a new family member, which brings its own set of challenges. If you are a dog parent and are expecting, you should consider how this change will affect your furbaby.
By thinking about how your dog will react to the new family member ahead of time, you will prevent future stress of acclimating your pup while simultaneously caring for your newborn. There are steps you can take before the baby arrives so that your dog will be better prepared for the changes.
Here are some common changes to expect and strategies that you can take before having your baby:
New Center of Attention. Naturally, a baby will take up most of your time and attention as a new parent. Most likely, a good amount of this attention was previously given to your pup. While this change is understandable and manageable, it will still be an adjustment for your pet. Your dog may start to act up as a result to get attention. When this happens, deal with it appropriately, making clear to your dog that bad behavior is not okay, but also make sure to give your dog some special care. It is your job as a pet parent to help your dog through this and meet his needs. Focus on making sure your dog feels loved and cared for in this time of transition.
New Sounds. To give you a warning in case you didn’t already know: babies are loud. They cry to communicate their needs which may result in cries echoing around the home for many minutes or hours at a time. Dogs generally have better hearing than humans so as loud as a baby’s cry may be to us, it is likely louder for your pup. This could be irritating or distressing for your dog, so don’t get angry if your pup doesn’t respond well when your baby cries. In order to prepare for this, play the sounds of babies crying around your dog before your baby arrives.
New Scents. Experiencing new smells is one of the things that come with new parenthood. Some of these smells, like baby lotion and baby powder, will add a nice scent to the home, but other new smells… will not be nice for anyone. Similar to hearing, dogs are also generally better at smelling than people. As a result, your dog may be distressed by all the new smells. In order to help your pup through this, try applying your baby lotion or wash to a blanket or towel before the baby arrives and allow your dog to smell it.
New Relationship. When you welcome a baby into the family, your dog will need to form a relationship with the baby. This may not happen immediately; your dog may be wary of the baby or maybe overly excited upon meeting the baby. If your pup is timid, give her time to get used to the new addition to the family and encourage safe, gentle interaction. On the contrary, if your pup is extremely energetic around your baby, it is your job to keep the interaction between them safe. If you think your dog may get overly excited around your baby, put her on a leash when they first meet. In addition, encourage calm interactions as the dog gets used to having the baby around.
When you welcome a baby into your family, almost everything in your life changes, and your dog will be able to sense this. In order to focus on the excitement of a baby rather than the stress, it’s best to prepare as much as you can. If you think about how having a baby will affect your dog, and do your best to prepare, you will give yourself more time to focus on caring for your newborn! You will also be able to focus on forging a wonderful relationship between your furbaby and your new baby!