Our dog Miles is our first child. So, when we brought Kaitlyn and Ava home from the hospital, we wanted his transition to be smooth. Now he recognizes the girls as part of our “pack”. He often sits with them and is deeply concerned for their welfare. If one of them cries in the night, Chris and I will awake to Miles staring us with that “aren’t you going to check on the baby” look.
Here’s what we did to prepare our dog to meet the girls:
- Review or train your dog to have manners. Basic commands like sit, stay, come, and no are essential.
- Acclimate your dog to baby sounds. I downloaded a baby sound app called Baby Sounds to get Miles used to the sound of crying and cooing babies.
- Invite friends with babies and small children to visit to allow your dog to get to used to little people.
- Reinforce a special place for your dog. Miles has a dog pillow mat in the living room that is his happy place.
- Allow your dog to be involved with the new nursery. Let him smell baby lotion and get used to the new room.
- Practice “Drop it” with baby toys, clothes, bottles. Miles was already trained to drop his tennis ball, so it was easy to transition to dropping our girls’ lovie.
- Bring home your baby’s blanket or onesie while your baby is still in the hospital. Your dog will familiarize himself with her scent.
- When you come home, have one person hold the baby so you can greet your dog. Carefully allow your dog to sniff the baby.
- Let your dog be involved in your new family’s life. Pet your dog while you are holding the baby. Take the dog for walks with you and the baby.
- Never leave your dog unsupervised with your child. A dog is always just a dog.
The girls absolutely love Miles. In fact, when they see him face to face they giggle with so much glee, more so than they do for humans. We’re currently teaching the girls how to gently pet Miles and not pull his hair.