When I was pregnant with my son, one of my big fears was how my dog would respond to a newborn and the newest member of our family. We have a super laid back Cardigan Welsh Corgi named Dobby the House Corgi (yes, after Harry Potter!) who is my buddy. In fact, I had Dobby before I even started dating my husband, so he’s been part of my pack for a long time now.
As we began making changes in our apartment to accommodate baby things, build our nursery, and store away things we wouldn’t need, I realized my dog might already know about the new baby. It seems strange, but I would swear that Dobby became more cuddly and protective of me because he knew I was pregnant. So it was important to me that he be prepared when we brought our son home from the hospital.
I scoured the internet and found some tips from other sources about introducing a dog to a newborn. I wanted to share those today because some of you might be wondering the same thing I was: how will my dog react to a new baby? That and other questions filled my mind, so without further ado, let’s talk prepping your dog for a new baby.
One of the first things I did before even getting pregnant was to prepare my dog for all kinds of touch. I think this is important whether you have children or not. I would touch my dog all over: his head, ears, nose, mouth, paws, tail, etc. I made sure that he was comfortable being touched and even tugged on (gently) so that he would handle any stranger’s touch as well. Babies and children can be rough on dogs, and despite teaching them differently, sometimes they get excited and aren’t gentle with dogs. I wanted to make sure my dog would be ready for any kind of touch and wouldn’t react with biting or other negative behaviors.
Another big thing we did was try to familiarize Dobby with the nursery items. We put a chair, play yard, and crib in the nursery among other things. We wanted our dog to be comfortable in this setting, so we gave him time to sniff and explore, and get used to the new furniture.
I spent a lot of time cuddling Dobby as well. I knew having a baby would mean I didn’t spend as much time loving on my pup, so I wanted to make sure he cuddled up with me and got to know me as a pregnant mom so he wouldn’t be confused when he lost some of his attention later. We spent a lot of time trying to play with him, pet him, and give him attention in anticipation of losing some of that time later to the new baby.
The following is a tip I saw but didn’t use because of how hectic the environment was after delivery; I still think it’s a great idea that I might use with future children. The tip was to send home a piece of the new baby’s clothing shortly after delivery. This is a neat idea to try. Send a piece of the baby’s already worn clothing home and let your dog smell it, and come to know the scent of your baby before introducing them. That way the dog will be familiar with the scent and won’t feel as much like an intruder is coming into his home.
Last but not least, when it’s time for the big introduction, have it outside. We did this with my son, and it was actually a great idea. I was in the hospital five days, so my dog was missing me during that time. We didn’t want to overwhelm him by bringing the new baby straight into what he considered “his” territory, so we brought him outside to meet our son in his car seat on our arrival. It actually worked perfectly because Dobby was so excited to meet our baby he practically ignored me and ran straight to the car seat to sniff and explore this new member of the family.
After we settled in for our first night home, Dobby decided our son belonged to him and became very protective of him. Now, almost two years later, he’s developed a pretty good relationship with my son, despite having to tolerate a lot more abuse from our active toddler! (It helps that he gets the leftovers from my little man’s meals, though!)