This is the first in my series, Bringing Home Baby. For the next several weeks, I’ll be discussing some common topics on the blog about preparing your dog for you bringing home a human baby. This week I’m starting with probably the most commonly given piece of advice from birthing professionals to expectant parents – bring home the baby’s blanket from the hospital and give it to your dog and then your dog will magically accept your baby. So, is this sound advice?
When I do my private pre-baby prep sessions, this is something we discuss. My general message is that bringing home the baby blanket is a “can’t hurt, but likely won’t help much.” The real damage that is done is when this message from birthing professionals is given to new parents that ALL they need to do to prepare their dog for baby is to bring the blanket home then “check – mission accomplished,” dog will suddenly love their baby. In a perfect world, it would just be this simple. But it isn’t.
Unless you’re in the unfortunate position that your baby ends up in NICU or doesn’t come home from the hospital for a long time, a one or two time exposure to the scent of the baby blanket, isn’t really going to do much. If your baby is in NICU for weeks or months, then repeated exposure over a long period of time to the smell of the baby may help prepare your dog for homecoming. But, also remember, if you have a partner, and your partner is coming and going back and forth, your partner will also smell like your new baby and the blanket will be unnecessary.
We also want to be careful to not make a big deal about the blanket, or really any one thing (including the baby in their carrier when you come home). We don’t want to present the blanket or baby and get all amped up and excited and present it as something the dog should be really excited about, like we do when we bring home a new toy for the dog.
Let’s break this down a little more with one final point. When you have an unknown person coming over, like a plumber, do you ask the plumber to send over a shirt ahead of their visit for your dog to get used to their smell? *chuckle*. So that may be a little tongue in cheek, but hopefully you see my point. If your dog has fear of strangers, you’re likely already prepared for managing those interactions, whether it’s putting your dog away during that interaction or working on a systematic training plan to help your dog be comfortable with slow, deliberate introductions. If your dog is comfortable with strangers, then this is completely unnecessary.
So I vote to leave the baby blanket at the hospital and instead channel resources into more concrete things that will make a real difference to help your dog prepare for your new baby coming home like these 5 things. Schedule your one-on-one pre-baby prep session today!