Some things are planned, some things are not, and then there is the lovely in-between.
It's Christmas, and we have a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old, and we have just told them that we will be getting a much-coveted puppy. We knew we wanted a puppy (not an older dog) we knew we wanted a dog we could exercise with (not a lap dog), and we knew we wanted the type of dog that was known to be great around kids. We settled on a black lab.
We bought a leather collar, a fake dog poop, and a sign that said (in Danish) ‘Beware of the dog’. We packed it up in a gift box and put it under the tree. Christmas day came and this gift was, by far the best gift the girls had ever (potentially) received - we still had to find the puppy. However, that felt like the easy part. Or so we thought.
We returned from our Christmas vacation in Denmark and learned we were expecting baby #3. We could not (would not) go back on our word – this was, after all the BEST PRESENT EVER! The puppy, not the baby. As I said, some things are planned, some things aren’t, and then there is the lovely in-between.
Fast forward a few months to July, and we are picking up our puppy. Yes, it took us that long to find a black lab. And Baby #3 is due in September. We have a very lively (to say the least) puppy who is now being house-trained, leash trained, and ALL of that. He is in puppy school and needs just 2 more classes to graduate, and then baby #3 arrives. With just 2 classes to go, Tiger (named after the golf legend himself) does not graduate. And for the rest of his life (he’s now almost 12), we will blame his failure to graduate on his lifelong ‘puppy-ness’.
However, this Tiger is also a legend. He is a gentle soul with kids. He is happy to share their food (not his, but theirs he's okay with). He is happy to vacuum up all the debris that's been cast in his not-so-nearby direction. Forever hungry, (he is a lab after all) he wanders the house looking for the next tidbit, however small. But he is always gentle with babies and kids. I cannot imagine how stressful it would be if Tiger was anything but Tiger. In name, not the nature of a real tiger).
We’ve put together some tips on how to introduce your pet to your new baby during the first month:
- Supervision is Key: We are putting this one at the top, as it is the most important. Never leave your pet alone with your new baby, even for a second. Always supervise their interactions and separate them if your pet shows any signs of aggression or undesirable behavior.
- Prepare Your Pet Beforehand: Before the baby arrives, introduce your pet to the new sights and sounds they will encounter when the baby comes home. Play recordings of baby sounds. Set up a baby doll or other baby items and reward your pet with treats when they interact positively with them.
- Gradual Introduction: When you first bring your baby home, keep your pet on a leash or in a separate room to observe from a distance. Gradually introduce them to each other by allowing your pet to sniff the baby's items and giving them treats while they do so.
- Reinforce Good Behavior: When your pet interacts calmly and positively with your new baby, be sure to reward them with treats and praise. This positive reinforcement will help your pet associate the baby with good things and create a positive bond.
- Keep Your Pet's Routine: Maintaining your pet's routine, such as feeding and playtime, will help ease their transition to the new family dynamic. A tired and happy pet is more likely to be calm and relaxed around the baby.
Be sure to take the time to prepare your dog for this huge change in their life. They were here first, and they were probably the center of your universe. Now, you are likely preoccupied with the demands of a new universe and that is hard to understand for a dog.
Be cautious. As well as you know your dog, you do not know them with a new baby. Introducing your pet to your new baby during the first month requires preparation, patience, and supervision.
By gradually introducing your pet to your baby, rewarding good behavior, and maintaining your pet's routine, you can help ensure a smooth and stress-free transition for everyone. Remember to always prioritize safety and never leave your pet unsupervised around your new baby.
With time, they might become best friends.