Supervision is key!

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woman holding baby near dog
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There's nothing better than seeing the babies you love fall in love with each other, too. As your dog and baby get to know one another, these safety tips will keep them both secure and nurture their relationship, creating an endearing and enduring bond.

1. Set up your baby's nursery as soon as you can.

By setting up the nursery sooner than later, you give our dog time to adjust and explore this new room of the house. While you're in here, try to go through the motions of caring for a baby, including talking to them, playing a 'crying' sound and a sound machine, and so on. "By practicing, your dog should accept the arrangement as well as you going in and out of the nursery well before your baby comes home," says Michelle Lugones, DVM, a veterinarian at Best Friends Animal Society.

Also, during this time, you should introduce your dog to the baby's things and set boundaries for them, recommends veterinarian Marty Goldstein, DVM. If you intend to have a baby gate to block the dog from coming into the nursery at all, you should start practicing this off-limits room a few months before the baby arrives, too.

2. Avoid letting the dog near the baby's face.

When it's time to officially introduce your dog and baby to each other, in the first few weeks of interactions, your dog does not need to sniff the baby to be introduced directly, says Jenna Olsen, DVM, a veterinary advisor for Pawp. "Anytime allowing a pet to sniff, avoid the head/face. Try the foot instead," she recommends. "If at any point in time they want to leave the situation, let them. No dog should be forced to be with the baby."

3. Never leave your dog and baby alone together.

While it would absolutely be wonderful if your dog was an additional 'caretaker' for your little one, it'll take time to build the relationship. "Your dog and your baby will be best friends one day, but it may take some time for them to get used to each other," Goldstein says.

As an example, your dog won't understand how gentle they need to be with your baby, and your baby won't know important things like 'don't chew the dog's ears.' "That's why you should always supervise your dog and your baby together—so you can help them learn how to be good friends," he adds.

4. Give your dog time—and attention.

As they say, a baby changes everything—and your schedule will have to adapt to your newborn's needs. Even so, Lugones says your dog still needs their daily quality time by getting their walks, training, and playtime. "It's very important to keep to their schedule as much as possible to reduce stress and behavioral issues," she says. "It's also important to be aware of your dog shows any signs of illness, such as a having decreased appetite, diarrhea, hiding, urinating or defecating in the house, or excessively grooming themselves. If you notice any of these, you should bring them to your veterinarian at once to determine if this is an illness or a sign of stress related to the new change to their environment."