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When our newborn arrives home, how do we introduce our two dogs to the child? We have two Shetland Sheepdogs and they are of course very friendly and loving. Despite this, it feels that in the beginning precautions are needed. Getting rid of the dogs is out of the question, they are part of the family.

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Three years later and a little report. The dogs were extremely nice and careful around our newborn. One of our dogs really enjoyed our baby and wanted to be around him as much as possible. The other dog was very hesitant and stayed away and pretended not to be interested. Now we have a speedy 2 and a half year old and I'm much more afraid he'll hurt the dogs than the other way around. Our initially hesitant dog is his best pal and they love to play together. Once in a while he gets a scratch after being too rough, like pulling their fur or poking at the eyes. I can't blame the dogs for that. –  Ciryon Apr 5 at 19:02
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Ok, I'm going to channel Cesar Millan here, bigtime.

It would be quite natural for the dogs to see the baby as a pup. Consequence of which is that the baby will have a lower ranking in your pack. The pack is basically what you call family, i.e. you, your partner, any other humans living in your house and any dogs.

So it is important that your dogs understand that they rank below the baby. You can make this clear from a very early age (of the baby). There actually is an episode of Dog Whisperer where Cesar shows a family how to make their baby 'claim' certain spots, like a play-mat.

While searching for that episode I actually found a great interview with Cesar about this question.

Good luck and enjoy your baby!

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Just wanted to point out that the views of Cesar Milan and the "alpha" dog/hierarchical pack view of things is not generally accepted by mainstream veterinary behaviorists. –  Doug T. Apr 4 '11 at 13:59
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My dog was technically still a puppy when we had our son, he was 10 months old, but I made sure before baby came that he was familiar with his room and his stuff, he is a hound so sniffing is what he lives for, so we let him sniff everything. Since I was the one with him all day, I was also worried that he may react to not see me for a couple of days, so first I send my husband a day before with a hospital blanket that belong to the baby, that was for the dog to keep. When I came home, I had my husband wait outside with the baby and went in by myself, I said hello to him and pet him, gave him all my attention. Then we brought the baby in the car seat, we let him sniff a little and get used to him. Our dog was mostly intrigued by the baby noises and cries, but he adjusted very well. I should also add that we had him on a training class before baby was born to teach basic commands (specially the leave it and drop it) I believe the key is to not change what we used to do with him, we still walk him twice a day rain or shine, take him to the dog park, playdates with other dogs, pet him a lot. He actually is excited to see when we put the baby on a carrier because he knows we are going on a walk and he loves his walks. My son is 5 months now and We are also teaching our dog to be gentle with baby now that he is starting to grab him, although it seems he already knows that, we have our baby hold a treat and the dog take it very gentle licking it away, we feels this way he understands baby is another master and part of the family.

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We were concerned about this as well. We first introduced a blanket or clothes from the hospital that our baby used to get them used to the smell. We had heard this works.

When we got home, there was the usual tail wagging and joy at seeing us, but they were for the most part uninterested in the new baby.

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There is some reason for concern, even if your dog seems perfectly well adjusted. Dogs typically respond differently to different kinds of people. A perfectly normal dog may be weary of people with hats, people of a certain gender/age/race/etc. This is the reason that puppys should be introduced to a variety of different types of people during socialization. Google "puppy socialization" and you'll see a lot of advice to exposing your dog to friends of various ages/sizes/ethnicities in as many different settings doing as many different behaviors as possible. See here

So dogs not socialized to babys as puppies, may need to be desensitized to them by gradually exposing them to baby sounds and baby behavior. There's a lot out there including books and web articles that give a lot of great advice.

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In my experience, you don't need ot worry about the dogs too much.

We had a home birth, and the dog was home the whole time. He mostly went and sat in the other room, and occasionally came in to see how my wife was doing.

For the first week, he wouldn't agree to come too near the baby even though we called him. After that, he would occasionally come and sniff around her. He's licked her head once, too.

If the dogs are part of the family, then you'll find that they know their place and won't interfere with the child.

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