Introducing your new baby to your family dog can be stressful for any parent, especially if that dogs happens to be a playful, energetic, hyper boxer. Following some easy steps will help the introductions go smoothly and create a loving and safe environment for all members of your growing family.
You have nine months of pregnancy to prepare your boxer for the arrival of the new baby, so start early. Remember that dogs are pack animals, and if you haven’t established yourself as the “pack leader,” aka the head dog in your house, now is the time to do so. Take an obedience class, work on those basic training skills like not jumping on people, and set clear expectations for your boxer. Not only will it bring you and your dog closer, it will better prepare your boxer for the new baby.
Many dogs are used to having the run of the house. However, when bringing a new baby home, it’s best to create safe spaces and boundaries within your home where your boxer is not allowed. One of those places should be the baby’s nursery. By not allowing your dog in your baby’s nursery, you’ve created a safe space where you can place your baby in his crib and not worry about your boxer and your baby interacting in a potentially harmful way. This will also create a good place to store toys and other baby items if your boxer has a hard time telling the difference between his dog toys and the baby’s toys.
Use The Hospital Blanket
Boxers, like all dogs, experience surroundings through scent. One of the best ways to acclimate your dog to a new baby is to bring home a blanket that your baby used in the hospital and allow your dog to sniff the blanket before actually bringing the baby home. While performing this exercise, it’s important to control your dog’s behavior toward the blanket – don’t let your boxer attack, bite or wrestle with the blanket! Boxers always want to play, so make sure your dog knows the blanket is not a chew toy.
Plan the Arrival
When finally introducing your new baby and your boxer, it’s best to have a strategic plan in place instead of simply walking in your front door and hoping for the best. If possible, try to tire your boxer out by getting him some exercise before you arrive home. If you enter your house and remain calm and assertive, your boxer should respond accordingly. Allow your boxer to sniff the new baby from a safe distance and maintain control of the situation. If your boxer gets too excited, wait until he has calmed down and try the introduction again. The American Kennel Club recommends leashing your dog for the initial introductions with the new baby, just as a precaution
Just because the first introduction between your boxer and your new baby went well doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. It’s important to never leave your newborn and your boxer together unsupervised. Even the sweetest, best-tempered dogs can inadvertently injure a baby by stepping on him or trying to play with him. Obviously you want to encourage a positive bond between the two, but you need to build that relationship slowly and put your child’s safety first. Supervision is also important when your baby gets a little older and begins pulling your boxer's ears. Don’t worry, though: When properly socialized, boxers make great playmates for children.
New babies require a lot of work, but it’s important to still make time for your dog once the baby arrives home. Make sure you find time to show your dog some love and make him feel he’s an important part of your family. Take your dog on regular walks or reward him with some new toys. With a little love, and some patience, your growing family will be one big happy family in no time.
Jen Gehring is a political consultant and college law professor. She holds a J.D. from American University and a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Cincinnati. She began working as a professional writer in 2010.