Last week, we went on a road trip to the beach, which was the first time the three of us and our dog Kona were in the car together for an extended amount of time.
It got me thinking that while we prepared Kona for the changes a baby would bring to our home (the smells, noises, new gadgets, etc.), we never prepared him for changes in the car. So I’m adding a fourth tip for introducing your baby to your dog….
#4 – Get your dog comfortable with riding beside a car seat. Kona is a large dog (husky mix), and before our baby was born, he was accustomed to having the entire backseat to himself. In hindsight, I wish we’d installed the car seat earlier so that he could get used to having less space. And since I’ve often ridden in the backseat with our daughter if she’s especially fussy, I also wish we’d let Kona practice riding in the front passenger seat as well. Introducing him to a new seat with much less space during a stressful car ride with a screaming baby (like we did last week) doesn’t set anyone up for success.
So take it from me…play out different scenarios of who will be in your car, where they’ll sit and what you’ll want on hand to keep them happy beforehand, and you’ll be much less likely to compound an already difficult situation.
My husband and I have a four-year old Husky named Kona who, to our knowledge, had never been around babies or small children when we adopted him. We weren’t exactly worried that he would be aggressive towards our new baby, but we also wanted to set ourselves up for success. So towards the end of my pregnancy, we spoke with a dog trainer about what we should do to prepare him.
The advice she gave us focused on introducing Kona to as much newness as we could in advance of the baby arriving so that he would be less overwhelmed once she actually got here. Here’s what the trainer said:
Wear baby products around your dog. She suggested putting on baby powder, baby lotion and any other scented products we planned to use on the baby so that Kona would get used to the new smells ahead of time.
Put on your baby wrap. The trainer said if we planned on wearing our new baby in a carrier or wrap around the house, we should practice with a bear or doll in it first. The rationale is that Kona would be less likely to jump up to sniff the carrier with the baby in it if he had seen the carrier being worn before.
Play baby sounds. She suggested playing baby sounds like crying and cooing as background noise so that Kona could get used to new baby sounds and would be less likely to get nervous or upset. This is especially important if you have a pet who’s sensitive to noises.
We tried all of these tips in the weeks leading up to my due date, and I do believe they helped Kona with the transition. Of course he was still very interested in this new little person, but he was always gentle and very rarely seemed nervous or upset when she cried.
In fact, he slept by her side constantly until she was about a month old, and he’s continued to be a very attentive companion ever since.