Animal Friends Blog
For many of us, dogs are often the first step of making a home, where they get to enjoy being the centre of attention for a few years. When it comes to starting a family, we can never know how our dogs will react to the changes.
While you’ll have time to plan for the arrival of your new bundle of joy, your pet will also need to be prepared and the sooner you start the training the easier the whole process will be.
Before your baby is born
A well-trained dog will make things a lot easier once you welcome your baby home. While we all like to think our dog is well behaved but even the smallest things can be stressful when your family has just grown by one.
Nine months is enough time for you and your pet to work through some of the issues or habits that might cause some issues when your baby arrives.
Dogs love routine and it can help ease some of their anxieties, so you can imagine when their routine is interrupted they might, and probably will, freak out. A new baby will bring big changes to their normal routine and this can be very unsettling to a dog.
Prepare your dog for the changes in their routine while you’re expecting, this can help get them used to the new norm.
Things like spending more time in a different room, shorter walks at different times and along different routes or inviting more people into your home before the baby arrives will help with your new routine.
Items and objects
You’ll want to introduce your dog to any objects that are unfamiliar to them so that they can get used to them beforehand and you’ll be able to set some boundaries around your baby’s items. For example, if you’ve bought a playmat you’ll want to teach your dog that it’s not theirs to lie on while you’ll want to teach them the difference between a dummy and a chew toy.
If you’re planning on making areas of the house or certain rooms out of bounds for the dog once the baby arrives you’ll want to do this before the baby arrives. This way your dog won’t associate the changes with the baby.
Sounds and smells
When a baby arrives, it will bring with it lots of new sounds and smells (and sleepless nights!) that your dog will need to be introduced to. Playing videos of babies crying or cooing and buying baby powder, shampoos and baby milk can help with the transition.
Stroking and touching
Making sure your dog is used to being touched all over will make it easier once your baby is growing up and pays more interest in the family dog.
When the baby is on its way there’s no way of saying how long you’ll need to stay at the hospital so it’s a good idea to make some arrangements with a few people your dog likes and trust so that you know they’ll be looked after while you’re not at home.
When the baby has arrived
If you can, get a family member or friend to take a piece of clothing that’s been worn by your baby home for your dog to get used to your child’s smell. This will prepare your dog for when you come home with your baby.
Once the baby is born
When it’s time to head home your dog will be very excited to see you so it’s a good idea for mum to go into the house alone at first, with dad (or family member) and baby in tow. This will allow you to greet your dog before the introduction.
Before introducing your dog to your baby it’s a good idea to take your dog for a walk to make sure that any excess energy or excitement is burned and they’re in a much calmer state. Then, while mum or dad is holding the baby the dog should be allowed to sniff the baby from a safe distance.
Allow the dog to interact with the baby every day, letting the dog get closer and closer and always praise your dog form calm and appropriate behaviour around the baby.
You should never leave your dog unsupervised with the baby, no matter how much you trust them or even if they have the calmest temperament.
Time for your dog
Most importantly, make sure you still make time for your dog. This will just strengthen the bond between the two of you as well as helping them stay mentally and physically stimulated, meaning they’re less likely to get bored and frustrated while you’re busy with the baby.
Teaching your baby
As your baby grows you’ll need to teach them how to behave around dogs as encouraging the gentle interaction from your child can help ensure your child and your dog live happily together. Safe interactions between kids and dogs will help keep everyone safe.
Welcoming a new baby into your family is an exciting time and making sure you teach your dog the correct behaviour can make things easier for everyone.
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