Introducing your dog to your infant

The actual introduction of your dog to your newborn baby is of utmost importance and the first few meetings can often dictate how your dog responds to your baby in an ongoing basis. For this reason, it is crucial to undertake the introduction process slowly and properly.

Tips for the first meeting include:
• When the baby comes home, another person should hold the baby while you greet your dog. Your dog has missed you and it is important to pay attention to him or her when you first get home.

• Greet your dog happily and bring him or her a new toy as a gift to associate the baby with something positive. After your dog’s excitement about your homecoming has dissipated you should start introducing your baby to the dog.

• If you are unsure of you dog’s behavior, leash or restrain him or her during the introduction. Talk to your dog, pet and encourage him or her to get a good look and sniff the baby’s hands and feet. Do not force a reluctant dog by pushing the infant in front of the pet. Allow the pet to explore the new smells at their own pace. Never leave your baby unsupervised with your pet. An infant is incapable of pushing the animal away and your dog may inadvertently smother the child. The actions of a baby may scare your dog and cause it to bite in self-defense. If your dog reacts aggressively, put him or her in another room until it is calm and try the introduction again.

• After the initial greeting, you can bring your pet with you to sit next to the baby; reward your pet with treats for appropriate behavior. Remember, you want your pet to view associating with the baby as a positive experience. Again, to prevent anxiety or injury, never force your pet to get near the baby, and always supervise any interaction.
• Life will no doubt be hectic caring for your new baby, but try to maintain regular routines as much as possible to help your pet adjust. And be sure to spend one-on-one quality time with your pet each day—it may help relax you, too.
With proper training, supervision, and adjustments, you, your new baby, and your pet should be able to live together safely and happily as one (now larger) family.

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