Expecting a new baby can change a lot of things, including your adult dog’s behavior. His position in your family will change and you don’t want him to blame the baby. Make as many changes in your home environment and your dog’s routine as early as you can. If certain areas of your home will be off limits, like the nursery, establish that now. It’s also a good idea to teach your dog the difference between his toys and the baby’s. For dogs that have trouble differentiating between certain toys, use scent recognition to teach them the difference – put a dab of Listerine on the baby’s toys, truss the scented baby toy and a dog toy then play the game “which one is yours?” Playing this game once a week, most dogs learn the difference within a month.
The sound of a crying baby also upsets a lot of adult dogs, so it’s a good idea to desensitize your dog to the sounds before the baby arrives. Use a tape of a baby crying, put it in the crib, turn it on and see how your dog reacts. Some experts recommend that you go so far as to get a doll and rehearse various activities that you’ll actually perform with the baby in the dog’s presence. When your dog acts indifferently to the crying or the particular activity, he is desensitized.
Finally, when the big day arrives, dad should wait in the car with the baby while mom goes inside and greets the dog. Once the initial excitement is over, she should put the dog on a leash and have him sit or lie next to her while dad enters with the baby in his arms. Mom then slowly walks the dog toward the baby and dad. If the dog balks, acts nervous or anxious at any point stop and try again later. If all seems fine, let your dog sniff your baby. Most dogs treat babies with indifference and move on. The key is to introduce them gradually, don’t force it and don’t make a fuss. And no matter how well you know your dog, never leave him alone with your baby. Most dogs adjust quickly to the new addition.