Pet Parenting: Introducing the dog to your newborn


We know some of the Motherlode mamas love their animal babies, too. That’s why we introduced Pet Parenting. Local pet behavior counselor Denise Holmes, who owns a local private counseling business Ain’t Misbehavin’, is answering our most pressing pet questions. Denise has been training animals for 25 years and loves furry babies. She’d love to answer one of your questions, so send ’em in!

At the bottom of this post you’ll see a picture of Denise’s dog, Henri. She tells people he’s a Cuban Woofhound. “I made it up, but Henri thinks he is a rare and exotic breed,” Denise said.

Now on to a question that some of you will be dealing with soon:

Q: My first child is due in two months and I’m concerned about introducing my newborn to our dog. He’s been our “baby” for so long, I’m afraid he might be jealous and could nip at the baby. How should I handle the first few days home?

A: You should begin preparing your dog for the arrival of the baby at least a month prior to the birth. This preparation should include a vet visit, any needed training and adjustment to the sights (toys, cradles, blankets), sounds, and smells (baby powder, lotion, etc) of baby.  You can do this with the CD “My New Best Friend,” which features 10 tracks of baby sounds along with pull out instructions (Denise developed this CD. Click here to to check out how it works.)

The first few days at home will set the tone for your dog’s interaction with and feelings about the baby.  Your goal should be to associate the baby with GOOD things.  So, though your instinct may be to put the dog outside or shoo him away from the baby, but if you do that he will associate the baby with negative consequences for himself (“everytime that baby is around I have to go away”).  Before you go home, have someone take a blanket from the hospital home for your dog to sniff.  It should be covered in your scent and that of the baby’s.  When you come home, have someone else carry the baby inside so you can greet your dog.  You’ve been gone a few days and he’ll be excited to see you and see what you’ve got.

Over the next few days, make sure when you hold the baby or pay attention to the baby, good things are happening for your dog.  Don’t be afraid to let him investigate.  Start with sniffing the carrier without your baby in it, then perhaps sit in the floor with your dog and let him sniff the carrier with the baby in it.  Remember that dogs investigate the world with their senses, so he needs a chance to do that and process.  Most importantly, at the first sign of trouble, call a professional!