Are you a mama to fur babies? If so, things can get a bit tricky when an actual baby is added to the mix. If you’re in this scenario, rescue volunteer and new mom Kara Venus is here to help. In her guest post today, she provides tips on how best to introduce your dogs to your baby. You can find more great ideas in her new picture book Harper and her Dogs: Introducing Your Fur-Babies to Your New Baby.
Kara Venus on introducing your dogs to your baby
Introducing a new baby to your fur babies can be a strange and scary process, but it doesn’t have to be! When we first learned we were having a baby, besides being thrilled, we were very nervous about how our dogs would react.
We had them both for 8 and 6 years respectively, and they had little interaction with kids. We were early on in our family and friend group to have a baby, so they didn’t have any practice with newcomers before them!
It’s also very different meeting children out in public or visiting, those babies go home at night! Bringing a baby into a household to stay can be a difficult process even for social dogs who love children outside the home. While introducing your dogs to other children is a great start, we did some research on how to prep and then did some trial and error on our own.
First-hand experience: What worked well
Here’s the things we did in the months before our baby arrived:
- We played baby sounds on YouTube, specifically crying and screaming to get them used to the new noises coming. There are many great resources available for free you can download and play as needed.
- We played kids shows and music to get them used to the new strange noises. Many kids shows are very different sounding from adult shows and this can be strange to dogs!
- We opened and assembled the stroller, high chair and other baby items to get them used to the noises and pieces. Strollers especially were scary to my dogs, so we also rolled it around the house to get them used to it!
- We took them for walks with the stroller to get used to the new vehicle on our walks. Walks were a very exciting time for them and we didn’t want that part of our relationship to change, only improve.
- We took them for car rides with the car seat installed to get them used to the new device and we played baby sounds in the car while driving.
- We showed the dogs baby clothes, blankets and other items to get them used to the new sounds and smells.
Steps to take while in the hopspital
Once the baby was on the way, we also took a few measures while in the hospital. Make sure to check in with friends and family ahead of time who can help you with these steps.
It’s also a great idea to include prep and care for your dogs in your hospital or birth plan. Births don’t always go as expected so having a plan in place to introduce your dogs in many different scenarios can take some of the worry out of the time leading up to birth.
- Our parents brought home a baby hat and blanket to let the dogs get used to the smell.
- My husband ran home a few times while we were in the hospital to see and spend time with the dogs alone.
- We brought them special food and treats to reward them for good behavior!
When the baby comes home: Introducing the dog to your baby
Once the baby came home, we also followed some additional steps. Again, this is a great way to involve friends and family (who just want to help!)
My parents really wanted to do something for us, so watching our dogs and helping with the prep and introduction was a perfect way to involve them. We also couldn’t have visitors at the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions, so we had to be extra creative in our care routine for the dogs.
- We slowly introduced them, letting the dogs sniff and respond at their own pace.
- We always watched them together to observe and supervise.
- We spent alone time with the dogs, taking them on walks and car rides to still give them their own attention.
While the new addition was exciting and scary, overall our introduction was very positive! Our baby and dogs have a great relationship.
While always supervised, we truly feel that the steps we took helped prepare everyone for the new arrival. We also feel that these steps were a great way to prep a dog for a new cousin, friend or family member that they might be around often.
There are some great resources available for free (YouTube especially!) and many local trainers who specialize in this type of training. I also found local mom groups and Instagram pages dedicated to this topic! One of my favorite accounts is @dogmeets_baby. She is a certified trainer and provides excellent advice to both new and experienced parents!
About Kara Venus, today’s writer
Kara Venus lives in New England with her daughter, husband and two dogs. Her love for dogs and volunteering with local rescues inspired this story!
She works as a marketing professional by day and enjoys skiing, gardening, and traveling. She hopes this story encourages readers to feel confident about welcoming a new family member, two-legged or four-legged!
About the book Harper and her Dogs
A family of four – two parents and two dogs – is about to welcome a new addition. But the parents worry their four-legged loves won’t be too thrilled to live with a new baby – a girl named Harper. This is every dog owner’s fear: How will our beloved pets adjust to a newborn?
The unique, realistic book gives soon-to-be parents important suggestions about how to prepare their dogs for this life-changing event. For example, it’s important to introduce fur-babies to the new baby’s sounds and equipment. That way, the dog can become familiar with some of the changes long before the baby arrives.
In Harper’s story, the dogs adjust beautifully, protecting, playing, and cleaning up after Harper. The dogs and Harper eventually become best friends.
The book features beautiful illustrations by Deborah Dyess.
Get your copy of Harper and her Dogs: Introducing Your Fur-Babies to Your New Baby today!
Top photo by Kara Venus, used with permission. Her daughter and one of her dogs play together.