Information and stories from the NICU World
1. Start by gradually introducing your dog to new sights, sounds, and smells associated with a baby. For example, you can play recordings of a baby crying or cooing, use baby lotion, powder or other baby products around your dog and allow him to investigate baby gear like cribs, strollers, and car seats. Bring a blanket home from the NICU that has your baby’s scent on it for your dog to smell.
2. Making sure your dog is well trained in basic commands is very important. Basic obedience commands like "sit," "stay," "come," and "leave it” will help you manage your dog's behavior around the baby.
3. If your dog hasn’t been around many children you can start to slowly introduce them to kids in a controlled environment. Start with older children that won’t startle your dog and can remain calm around them. All of these interactions should be very closely supervised.
4. Practice simulated baby scenarios, such as carrying a doll around or pushing a stroller, to get your dog accustomed to the presence of a new family member.
5. Once the baby is home be consistent with the behaviors you want from the dog by establishino boundaries and expectations for them when they are around the baby, such as no jumping or taking the baby’s toys.
6. If your dog is used to your undivided attention all day long, you may want to gradually reduce the amount of time you spend playing and cuddling with your dog before the baby arrives to help prevent jealousy or anxiety. That being said, you should continue to make sure that the dog gets plenty of exercise and at least some one on one time with you during the day.
Remember, always supervise interactions between your dog and baby, and never leave them alone together, even for a moment. With some preparation and training, your dog can be a loving and protective companion for your new family member.