Introducing Dog and Baby-The Dry Run

The Dry Run

Well, since I like to do everything in advance, we are going to do practice runs for the big day of introduction, starring your friend and mine, Boo Boo the baby doll! You need a few things before we get started, I have mentioned head collars such as a Gentle Leader® in previous material. I also talked about a recording of a newborn baby's cry. If you have not purchased either one yet please do so. Putting the head collar on your dog can be tricky so please make sure you are using it correctly. You also need to set up your car seat at this time. Let's get Boo Boo out and ready for action. Dress Boo Boo in a baby outfit and get out a blanket you are thinking of bringing to the hospital. Your partner takes the dog for a walk or a quick game of fetch before you leave on a day trip. You could take a tour of the birthing center, or go attend a birthing class, or go to the mall. Just so you are gone for at least a few hours. While your partner is taking care of the dog you are going to strap Boo Boo into the carrier as if he were a real baby. Place the carrier in the car.

Boo Boo in Car seat

When your partner is done exercising the dog, get ready to go like you would on any other day. Go on your day trip and enjoy yourself. Just a note though, DO NOT leave Boo Boo strapped into the car seat while you are not in the car. This may cause panic of a passerby not realizing it is a doll. Just throw him in your oversized hand bag or something. When you get home your partner is going to carry Boo Boo, in the carrier. You will enter first and you are going to greet the dog, put the head collar and leash on, and take the dog out to potty and say your hellos to the dog outside. At this time your partner will carry Boo Boo in to the house in the carrier and go directly to the nursery, closing the gate behind them. After the dog has taken care of business, come back in the house keeping the leash and head collar on, and go to the nursery gate. In the time you were outside your partner can take Boo Boo out of the carrier, wrap him in a blanket, and be waiting on the other side of the gate of the nursery. You should have some Rewards on you or near by. You are going to let the dog sniff Boo Boo through the gate (without actually letting him make contact) and Reward the dog for calm behavior. If the dog is wound up and jazzed up, then ask him to sit and Reward for that behavior. Have your partner play the recording of the newborn baby cry, while holding Boo Boo, and Reward the dog for calm behavior. Again, if your dog displays any aggressive or inappropriate behaviors to Boo Boo, or the recording, please go see an Applied Animal Behaviorist. Now have your partner place Boo Boo in the crib and come out of the nursery and greet the dog. Just remember, keep everything low key, your dog will hopefully follow suit. Remember, try to keep it all positive around Boo Boo and the dog. Use praise, treats, and Behavior Requests to get the desired results.  

Now you are going to put your dog outside, your partner is going to play fetch or whatever for a while, and then leave him out there for about an hour, if you have an appropriate set up to do so. When you bring a real baby home you are going to need some time to care for the baby and get some rest your self without having to try and juggle the dog as well. So if the dog is used to going out for an hour or so after you get home with Boo Boo, then this will seem routine to him when the real thing happens. If you don't have a fenced yard, you can have your partner take the dog for a walk and then when they get home have the dog go into the crate, with the special crate toy or bone, for about an hour. Your dog does not need to fully bond with the baby in the first minutes home. Take your time, slow and easy is better than forced, rushed, and overwhelmed.

Introductions in my house took the better part of the first couple of weeks. I was so concerned about feeding the baby and getting him to sleep, that introductions were one dog at a time, short and sweet. Even within that process the dogs all reacted differently. Vegas was, within 30 seconds, head over heels for my son. Mythos displayed behaviors that made the introduction take the better part of 3 months. Haoulie was his normal spaz self so he was on the, it is going to take more time to introduce, program. Belle and Guinness literally sniffed and then cared less.  

You don't know how your dog is going to do with the real thing, but to have a plan for the first few days and weeks and setting up a routine before the baby comes really is giving your dog a paw up on the whole process. Some people, who only have one dog, have a family member or friend take the dog while they are in the hospital and then keep the dog for a couple days extra to give themselves time to get used to the baby routine themselves!  With 5 dogs I did not have that option!