RHODE MAP TO MOTHERHOOD: Introducing Dogs to Baby
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The RISPCA’s lead dog trainer, Jen Reynolds, offered up some tips to help make for a smooth, safe introduction between dogs and a new baby.
Reynolds, who is a mom and dog mom herself, also works with Pawsitive Reinforcement Dog Training. She says dog owners should start working with their dogs before baby arrives.
“Dogs and kids can have a really great bond especially if introduced slowly at first," she says.
She recommends introducing dogs to some of the new toys, sounds, and smells they will have to live with.
For example, she says, set up the swing, turn on the mobile, bring out baby toys ahead of time, turn on YouTube videos of babies crying so they get used to the sound, and let dogs smell baby shampoo and diapers.
Another important step may be challenging for some dog owners.
"Start weening out the petting before the baby comes," Reynolds says. “You'll want to have your specific dog cuddle times."
Then comes the big introduction.
“When you come home from the hospital, come in without the baby at first so mom can say, ‘I love you I missed you',” she says. Reynolds recommends you bring a baby hat into the house, too, so that your dogs can smell the baby’s scent. Then, have someone else bring the baby in.
Let dogs sniff the baby, but if there is any sign of a lip curl or growl, she says, let the dogs keep their distance.
Other helpful hints Reynolds has for expectant parents to ready their dogs for a new baby:
- Start gradually changing their potty break time if you expect that they will be let out earlier or later than usual
- Continue to exercise your dogs with regular walks, and give them enrichment toys to keep them mentally stimulated
- On the day you bring baby home, try to have someone bring your dogs for a walk to wear them out before they meet baby
- Never leave dogs unsupervised with babies
- Keep diapers – dirty OR clean – away from dogs, as they can make dogs sick