Congratulations! You just brought home your new bundle of joy and the whole family couldn’t be any happier. Except, perhaps for one member of the family, this new arrival can bring a whirlwind of emotions.
If you have noticed that your dog has been acting strange since the arrival of your new baby, then there’s a chance they might be depressed.
Now, before you go and wonder how bringing a baby home could make your dog depressed, think of the bigger picture. Major changes in your dog’s life can trigger symptoms of depression, such as moving or adding another pet to the family.
Seeing your dog depressed after the baby arrives is no different. In order to be able to help, first, you need to understand what a depressed dog looks like.
Why Does My Dog Seem Sad or Depressed?
If your dog does seem sad or depressed after you bring home the baby, it’s more due to the fact that their lives — just like yours — have just been transformed.
If you notice your dog has stopped participating in things they once enjoyed; seems withdrawn or inactive; or stops eating, drinking, or sleeping, they may be experiencing depression symptoms.
Why would your dog be so upset? Well, your dog may be jealous. If your dog is the only pet, or just used to getting a ton of attention, adapting to having a baby around that needs all of your focus may cause feelings of hurt or confusion.
Another reason a baby may cause your dog to feel depressed is that they thrive on predictability and routine. Soon enough, you will be waking up at all hours of the night and while you may think that just affects the parents, it messes with your dog’s sleep as well.
This also comes with messing with the dog’s space. If you do begin moving the dog’s belongs around after the arrival of the baby, this can lead to confusion and depression.
But, there’s no need to worry. With time, and by taking the proper steps, your dog and baby will likely form a new friendship that will last for years to come.
Preparing Your Dog for a New Addition
While we all may wish our dogs understand every single word, situation, and detail we are telling them, that is simply just not the case. So, in order to help your dog transition into the big change to come, you can prepare in ways that will help them adapt prior to baby’s arrival by following these few tips.
- Territory — If your dog has a favorite spot to sleep, it’s probably best to try to avoid setting up the baby there if it all possible.
- Furniture — If you will be moving or rearranging furniture, try to get it done as soon as possible. This way, your dog will be able to adjust.
- Baby things — Allow your dog to look at and sniff around the baby’s room and things so they get accustomed to the new sights and smells.
- Play date — If at all possible, see if you can coordinate for some kids — neighbors or relatives — to come hang out with your dog to gauge their behavior.
- Swap scents — If possible, have someone bring home a blanket that the baby at the hospital prior to coming home. Place near the dog’s bed or food dishes.
What You Can Do
In addition to the preparations above, while it may sound a little silly, you can walk around the house with a baby doll in your arms. Teach your dog appropriate behavior when the doll is out.
For example, if you are sitting down with the doll, appropriate action may be for your dog to come sit or lay down and examine the baby. But, if your dog gets overly excited and begins to jump up, then you need to try to affirm the commands “no” or “sit” to get your dog to back down.
If your dog does not know simple obedience commands prior to the arrival of your newborn, you may want to consider enrolling in some classes beforehand.
Tips for Keeping Your Dog Happy After Baby Arrives
Once you bring home the baby, there are a few things you can do to help make the transition go as smoothly as possible.
As mentioned above, taking a couple of used baby items — such as blankets, clothes, or burp clothes — and placing them under your dog’s dishes and near their bed is a good way for them to become familiar with the newest family member’s scent.