Bringing pets and newborns together safely

Preparation will help smooth the transition

(CNN) – Bringing a baby home for the first time can be a “ruff” experience for some dogs. However, with a little preparation, things can be much smoother.

Maddux is used to one-on-one playtime everyday. But soon, he’ll have to share the spotlight with a new addition to the family. His owners, Judd and Jessica Hickinbotham are expecting and they’ve decided to prepare Maddux for the baby’s arrival.

Certified dog trainer Meredith Minkin has been working with the family for several months. Meredith recommends that dogs who haven’t been exposed to children receive training before a newborn arrives home. “I oftentimes ask owners to get baby dolls and practice holding the baby doll, and teaching the dog something like sit, or sit-stay, so that the dog doesn’t practice jumping up and potentially scratching the baby.”

Meredith says it’s important for the dog to become familiar with the baby’s room, and to recognize the difference between the baby’s things and their own. “If a baby’s toy drops on the floor, something that doesn’t belong to him, he shouldn’t put it in his mouth and take it as his own.”

Ultimately, a good relationship between dog and owners as well as positive reinforcement leads to a safe and happy home for everyone.

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