Two years ago my husband and I adopted a beautiful German Shepherd mix from our local humane society named Bowser. Bowser was our first baby, but now we need to start thinking about how the addition of our twins to our home will impact him, and ensure everyones safety. I have been talking to some friends and family who have recently made the introduction between fur baby and human baby, as well as researched the topic and I have found a few strategies to help ease the transition:
- Swaddle a toy doll, carry it around the house, and place it in areas where the baby will be i.e. swings, crib, etc. By practicing with a doll, your dog will start to see a glimpse of the new routine and get acclimated to your movements. A friend of mine tried this, and said it was effective in reducing her dogs confusion when baby came home.
- Bring home a baby blanket from the hospital that was used to swaddle the baby and allow the dog to smell the blanket. By introducing your babies scent prior to their arrival home, it helps the dog recognize the smell of the new baby. My sister did this, and found it was very effective with her Golden doodle. He quickly recognized the scent as something familiar and was less interested in the baby.
- When arriving home from the hospital, enter the house prior to bringing the baby in and greet the dog allowing them to settle. Your dog will be very excited to see you after being in the hospital. Once your dog settled bring in the car seat (or seats in my case) with the baby.
- Create a safe space for your dog. Every dog should have an area of the home that is quiet, comfortable and only theirs. In the case of our dog, we initially crate trained him when we adopted him, now he does not get locked in the crate very often, but the crate is always available for him, as this is his safe space. When he gets overwhelmed with too much noise, or too many people, he will voluntarily go to his crate and take a nap or relax.
- Have a back up plan! In some cases it might be too overwhelming for the dog at first to adjusted to the new little people in the home. In the case of our dog, he is a rescue who was previously abused. He is a gentle giant, but can get a little anxious when there are too many sudden changes to his environment. We are very lucky to have my parents close by who have a great relationship with my dog, and he is very comfortable at their home. If our dog needs some space we have a comfortable home for him to have a doggie vacation and help him to gradually adjust with shorter interactions and visits with the babies.
This is by no means to exhaustive list of strategies to introduce your dog and your new baby, but these are a few tips that I have been recommended to me and I am looking into trying. We do not anticipate any concerns introducing our dog to our babies when they arrive as he has been around children before and had no concerns. But, this is always something to be mindful of. With such a huge change in the dogs environment, it is important to watch for signs of anxiety and distress. Identifying these warning signs in advance will help prevent bigger problems later.
PS. Below is a shameless dog mom picture of Bowser