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Leader of the Pack: Introducing the Family Pet to New Baby

Leader of the Pack: Introducing the Family Pet to New Baby

Bringing home a baby is a monumental event in most households. While many moms have carefully prepared (or tried to warn) siblings that a new little prince or princess will be arriving soon to take ownership of the bassinet, preparing the family dog, cat or any pet for the new arrival is also very important and many Circle of Moms community members like Keli, who has two dogs, have asked about the best protocol.

"I was wondering how your experiences are with your dogs when the baby got to be more mobile and grabby," she writes. "I'm more worried about when my baby gets pulling on hair and stuff. I won't be leaving them unattended but I do know the dog does not like her hair being tugged."

Circle of Moms member Bianca says she had to resort to the extreme of getting rid of her dog, an 11-month-old, 100 pound bulldog.

"It was very sad at first," she says. "If the dog is causing more stress, it is time to re-evaluate the situation. Bottom-line is, don't risk your baby for the dog."

I agree totally. As a mom of three kids, living in a house with two largish dogs – a Golden Retriever and a Chesapeake Bay retriever, I have a strict rule when babies and seniors (usually this means my 80-something mom) come over. I borrow baby gates and restrict our furry friends to the laundry room. They are loving, gentle dogs, but by their size alone, they could wipe a baby or an elderly person off their feet in a second.

Since I only need to relocate my pets sporadically (when babies, toddlers and senior citizens visit us), I turned to the advice of the guru of canine concerns: Cesar Millan, host of the National Geographic Channel's The Dog Whisperer.

I also checked in with The Humane Society of the United State's tips for introducing a new baby to the family pet. They recommend training the cat, dog or other pet to be well-behaved, but making sure the baby is never left unattended with any animal.

"Our dogs are very in tune with us, so with an event as monumental as a pregnancy, your dog has already sensed that something is up," Millan says on his website, Cesar's Way. "But just because she has picked up on the new feelings hanging in the air, doesn't mean that she understands what they mean. "

Millan's advice includes the three tips below as well as some straight talk on how to decide whether to find your dog a new home.

1. Establish Yourself as Leader of the Pack

Spend the months before your baby's arrival training your dog – and hiring a professional if you need to, so that by the time you bring your baby home you are fully in control of a well-behaved dog who sees you as leader of his pack.

2. Establish Boundaries Around the Nursery

Keep the nursery off-limits. Condition your dog to understand that there is an invisible barrier that he may not cross without your permission.


3. Teach Your Child How to Interact with the Dog

Once your child is in the exploratory state, it is important to supervise all interactions between her and your pet. This is the moment to teach her not to bother the dog, yank his tail, etc.

(For Milan's full tutorial, visit his website.)

What tips do you have about introducing a newborn to the family pet?

Image Source: Puppy and baby Omininate

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Imogen2711390 Imogen2711390 3 years

Interesting read. When I was pregnant with my first child, Sara I used a book called Tell Your Dog You're Pregnant: An essential guide for dog owners who are expecting a baby. It was really helpful and came with a baby sounds and toy noises. Max (my fur child!) took some time to get used to the sounds but the book helped on how to do it. It gave me advice on what changes will occur and how to prepare my Max for them. It also talked about the causes for aggression and why it might occur and how to avoid it. It is written by a vet behaviorist too so it cover health issues as well - I got it from or Amazon too i guess - mayb that will help someone else!

DeDraFlowers DeDraFlowers 6 years
I had a Bichon Frise for 4years before I had my first child. Needless to say, he was my baby. To prepare him, I started setting boundaries, such as he could no longer get on my bed. I would put random covers on the floor & tell him he couldn't go near them. I set up the baby's furniture, so he could get used to it. I even played recordings of babies crying to see how he would react. Once he was born, before I brought the baby home,I did bring home a onesie the baby had worn so that he could smell him. When I physically bought the baby into the house, I allowed my dog to sniff the baby's feet. I don't know if my actions worked, or if my dog was just awesome, but my he was very well behaved. When my son started playing on the floor, I showed him how to be gentle with the dog. They get along great, my dog has even alerted me when the baby was crying & I didn't hear him.
krissyloveday krissyloveday 6 years
i agree with all of this but one very important thing was left out when at the hospital the partner must always bring a peice of clothing or blanket home so dog caan get used to smell before baby gets home. being prepaired,dont just think dog will just adapt to being thrown out doors,it will get jelous thus you find the dog will attack more likely when child with dog. i also putt both my kids higher than both of mine everyday for 'play with (insert dogs name here) it really does work kids are higher to show dog they are bosses also,and as they get older they learn with you,hold babys hand and say'gentle pats' i also taught them to put their hand out so dog can sniff it as some other dogs dont like to be pattedin the 'outside world.' .
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