August 20, 2014

5 Tips for Introducing Your Dog to a New Baby

Thanks to I and Love and You for sponsoring this post so I can share how to introduce your dog to a new baby.  We love I and Love and You's dog treats.  #Furreal

It is no secret that our family is quickly expanding.  Two years ago we added Charger and last summer someone thought it would be a brilliant idea to get a second dog.  Okay, maybe that someone was me.  I got the vibe that Charger really needed a buddy and my best efforts at wrestling with him on our living room rug were not quite the same as a canine companion.  Enter Stella.  She was found on the street pretty much dying of parvo, was turned over the local animal shelter here and beat the odds.

5 Tips for introducing your dog to a new baby, #Furreal, I and Love and You

Stella is forty-something pounds of feisty, survivalist pitbull-mutt.  She loves to play, pretty much isn't afraid of anything and is a sad eyed, melt in your lap pile of mush when she's tired herself out.  She gives Charger a total run for his money and they are truly like siblings.  With baby Blake entering the picture (OMG this house is getting smaller by the day) introducing a new baby to two loving, but high energy dogs has been very much on my mind.  Therefore, I thought I would share a few tips for introducing your dog to a new baby.

1) Start brushing up on ground rules several weeks in advance

Raise your hand if you're guilty of not always reinforcing certain "rules" or letting subpar behavoir slide with your dogs?  I have both raised.  One for each dog.  Much like with young children, sometimes it's really easy to let the occasional over excited jump slide.  Or maybe it means when they sneakily jump into the bed at 2am, you casually ignore your newly acquired foot warmer.

What works before bringing a newborn home might not after.  So if you think you might be co-sleeping or doing a 2am feeding in your bed, then perhaps it makes sense to reinforce to your giant furry friends that jumping on you even at that hour isn't going to fly.  Preferably before that jump startles a baby you just got to sleep.

Reward repetitive good behavior with some special treats you might not normally give your dog.  It makes it clear that you're happy they are following your lead and that they should keep doing it.  Stella's favorite are the I and Love and You Free Ranger Bully Stix , which come from grass fed cows.  Fancy!

5 Tips for introducing your dog to a new baby, #Furreal, I and Love and You

2) Let your dog explore the baby's room

Odds are, you're going to be doing some hard time in that glider or rocking chair and manning the changing table.  Odds are, your dog is going to want to be with you.  I've spent some time sitting and working from the chair in Blake's room while Charger and Stella nap on the floor.  A couple of times they have started playing and wrestling on the rug in there and I've put a stop to it immediately, letting them know that this is not a place to play.

I've also left some low lying stuffed animals and toys in the storage unit and on the floor in there.  Charger in particular thinks stuffed animals are a delicacy.  I've been surprised that so far, we haven't had any violations or stuffed animal carnage.  Perhaps they get it that this room has rules and isn't a free for all.  I'll take it.

5 Tips for introducing your dog to a new baby, #Furreal, I and Love and You

3) Send that baby smelling item home with a relative

This is nothing new, we've all heard it before.  Since dogs are ALL about smell, it makes perfect sense to take on of the many little flannel swaddles the hospital will throw your way and let your new baby snooze in it for a bit before sending it home with your partner or a relative.  I had my parents put one of ours right in the middle of Charger and Stella's beds so they could check it out and cuddle up with it.

By the time Blake came home, they were very interested in checking him out, but we'd already established that his scent belonged here.  You can even do this right when you get home and before you remove the baby from their little infant car seat.

4) Tire out energetic pets before you get home

If there is one thing I've learned about life with energetic dogs, it's that exercise is key to good behavior. 2 dogs plus pent up energy equals frustration for all parties and it doesn't have to be that way.  Before coming home from the hospital, ask a relative to take your dog for a long walk or throw a ball for them.  Hire the local teenager down the street if you need to.  I think it's worth it.

Your dog is going to be SO happy to see you for the first time in 30,000 years -okay, probably 2 days, but you know how dogs are when it comes to being reunited with the ones they love!  Bringing that delicate little baby into the house will be a lot easier if you make sure your super excited dog is already super exhausted.

5 Tips for introducing your dog to a new baby, #Furreal, I and Love and You

5) Be sure to spoil the furballs with special treats

Like I mentioned before, positively reinforcing good behavior seems to make all the difference.  We don't give Stella and Charger a ton of treats, but use them for very specific things normally.  Stella still gets crated when we leave the house, so all I have to do at this point is say "crate" and she walks right into it and patiently waits licking her chops because she knows she's getting a little treat.

5 Tips for introducing your dog to a new baby, #Furreal, I and Love and You

I mentioned the Free Ranger Bully Stix earlier.  We sometimes use kibble when training Charger and Stella since they seem to think it's still a treat and the pieces are small so you can use a bunch without worrying about pudging up your pet.  I also really like these Free Ranger Bully Stix from I and Love and You because they provide a fair amount of entertainment (it takes Stella about 20 minutes to get through one) they're a lot safer than things like raw hides, they're made from grass fed cows and aren't exposed to chemical processing.  Most importantly, she LOVES them.

And then...reap the benefits!

5 Tips for introducing your dog to a new baby, #Furreal, I and Love and You

The reality is that with two big dogs running around, we'll always have to be mindful of this new little person.  Setting some ground rules and letting the dogs know from day one that he's their buddy, but they need to be gentle and well behaved around him is key.  I'm amazed at how Charger has become like another watchful eye when it comes to Blake.  He is the first one to his side when he hears any kind of fussing and often parks himself where Blake is sleeping as though he's keeping watch over his new buddy.  It's pretty adorable to see.  I'm fairly certain that Charger's mind will be blown when Blake starts eating solids and he experiences the joy of the high chair food drop.  Exciting times ahead!

If you're thinking about switching your dog to a super high quality dog food, then here's some great information on making the transition.  And if you're looking for deals, adorable pet pictures and some good humor you can check out I and Love and You on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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