Everyone diligently brings home the baby blanket from the hospital for their dog to sniff and become familiar with the new addition. Is this really needed? Does it help? Is it a bit silly? Well, yes to all.
Is this needed…. yes and no. There is no question that this practice makes new parents feel good. If they show the dog the blanket and the dog responds positively or in a non-threatening way they feel relief…all will be well. We love seeing “harmony” and interpreting this as the dog accepts the baby and all is happily ever after. We have a need and desire for harmony.
Where I get concerned is when new parents believe that this means the dog loves and accepts the new baby as a family member. This can be a dangerous assumption and although it is great the dog reacted positively…. it in no way means the dog “knows” the baby is family and delicate. What is most important is inclusion of the dog during baby routines every day in a safe manner. Dogs accept new family members over time as they develop a bond through familiarity. Our Family Paws Parent Education programs go into great detail about ways to help encourage this bond. We have licensed presenters/educators in 39 states and seven countries. We also offer webinars and some are even FREE!
Bringing home a blanket is fine and we all have done it with our newborns and dogs. But, think about it…if you are having house guests for the holidays over to your home are you going to get an article of clothing from them for your dog to sniff before they enter your home? We bring new scents into our home daily and our dogs don’t often care. Same is true with the newborn coming home. This exercise feels good to us and I have no problems with people doing it as long as they know that there is so much more to be done long term to build and maintain a relationship between baby and dog. Parents with kids and dogs have to evaluate safety and management based on the stages and individual needs of their dogs and children. This is an ongoing commitment and in the end has very little to do with the introduction of the blanket. Just my two cents on this subject following this article with Hilary Duff.
The bottom line is bringing home the blanket is fine and good and may or may not help our dogs adjust but it is the inclusion with full awake adult supervision that leads to the ongoing success.