Having a new baby brought into your home requires a lot of preparation, and your dog shouldn’t be left out of these plans. Dogs are very sensitive to changes in their surroundings and routines, making it very important to follow these tips carefully.
You definitely shouldn’t leave it until the baby has arrived, preparations should be made around 4 months before the birth. However if you are starting a little late, don’t worry, they will still benefit from any training you give. If you prepare well enough in advance your dog will hardly notice any differences once the baby actually arrives.
- Your dog should be tolerant of being stroked and touched on their chest, shoulders, back, legs, tail and head without snapping at you.
- Babies make a lot of noise, to prepare for this occasionally play recordings of a baby crying for short periods of time and then follow this with a treat such as some food or fuss. Repeating this process will make the dog associate a crying baby with good feelings.
- Make sure that new objects such as cots, play pens, push chairs and high chairs etc are in place before the baby arrives so that your dog can become accustomed to these new objects in their environment. You may also want to distribute new smelling things around the house such as baby powder and lotion so that the dog becomes used to these smells.
- In the near future you’ll have to handle any problems while pushing on a pram or push chair and if your dog isn’t well behaved on a lead this could cause chaos.
- During pregnancy you may walk your dog less often due to the physical discomfort, try to find other people who will be willing to walk your dog such as friends, relatives or a professional. The fewer walks your dog gets the more bored they will become and if you feel that when the baby arrives you’ll be walking them less often, prepare them for this gradually.
- Make sure that your dog is used to staying at home without you, and if not, introduce this behavior gradually.
- Many dogs are very protective of their food while eating and can snap at hands that may approach. You must be sure that your dog won’t snap if your baby mistakenly wonders over to them while eating.
- Before the baby arrives your dog may be used to getting a lot of attention. Once the baby arrives, even the best parent won’t be able to give the same amount of attention to their dog as they once did. Prepare for this by giving them attention for around 20 minutes, but then once this time is over, intentionally ignore them for another 20 minutes. Your dog will gradually become more accustomed to lasting longer periods of time without any attention.
- Dog and baby toys are usually fairly similar (made from the same material, make the same kind of noises) and so it can be very confusing for both the baby and dog as to who owns what toy. To stop this confusion, limit your dog to two or three toys and once play time is over, put them out of reach. It is also important that your dog gives up their toys without fuss.
- Your dog should always have a quiet, safe place within the house that they can escape to whenever they need rest or peace. Your dog should be able to escape to a bed or crate that makes them feel safe once the baby arrives. Make sure this place is inaccessible to any baby or toddler.
- Make sure their is a sealed container of which to dispose any nappies. Dogs are very curious of smells and are known to steal dirty nappies, dragging them around the house.
Once the Baby Arrives
- Your dog will naturally be very excited when you return with your new baby. To carry out the first introduction, first tire them out with a long walk or play session, approach the dog yourself first incase they jump up at you, and once relaxed introduce the baby. They will usually sniff the baby for a few seconds and then lose interest completely, this is normal behavior and once they have backed away be sure to praise them.
- Whenever your dog behaves well around your baby, be sure to offer lots of praise and rewards.
- Do not leave your baby on the floor with your dog and don’t under any circumstances leave them both together unattended.