Preparing Fido for the Arrival of BabyNovember 27, 2015
The first child is one of the most exciting and important events in one’s life. If you’re expecting and are a pet parent, you’ve probably wondered how your four-legged friend will react to the presence of your new tiny member of the family and the attention your baby will receive. Read on for tips on how to prepare your dog for the arrival of baby and how to make this transition a safe and happy experience for all of the babies, human and canine!
Before baby’s arrival
Preparation: Preparing your fur baby for what’s to come is key for ensuring a harmonious relationship between your dog and your child. Making sure your dog learned basic commands such as sit, down, stay, go away, and not to jump on people will go a long way. If your dog needs a little guidance to learn these, it would be a good idea to seek some professional assistance from a dog trainer. There are also some good articles and videos online that can help you teach your dog the basics.
Mix up the schedule: You’ll soon be living on your baby’s schedule, which will most certainly interfere with your four-legged friend’s daily routine. If your dog is used to being fed and walked at a certain hour, try different feeding and walking times so that your dog can deal with sudden switches in his or her routine. If you think juggling a newborn and a dog may be difficult for you in the first few weeks of your baby’s arrival, look into hiring a dog walker, a pet daycare or see if a family member or friend can help out with giving your fur baby the attention he or she needs.
Start new rules: Any changes in habits should be dealt with before baby arrives. For example, if your dog is used to sleeping on your bed and you no longer wish it so, work on changing this habit by introducing a new bedtime spot. The same goes for areas you wish to restrict access to, like the nursery or a dedicated corner in a room that will become your child’s playground. Here’s a resource that will help you boundary train your dog.
Expose your dog to baby noises and behaviours: If possible, try exposing your dog to young children. The sound of a baby crying can be unsettling for your dog if he or she isn’t used to the sound. You can prepare Fido by playing baby sounds by purchasing this mix on Puppylife.com or simply by finding a video on YouTube. You should also consider training your dog to remain calm should he or she be grabbed in awkward ways, be poked and pulled, or have his or her food played with while eating. Remember to reinforce positive behaviour with a treat.
After baby’s arrival
Introducing baby: Just before entering the house with baby, have someone walk into your home first so that your dog can greet them. Take him or her for a walk and then, once you judge your dog is calm, introduce your baby. The first encounters between dog and baby should happen with your dog on a leash, where he or she should sniff baby from a distance. Be aware of your own energy and mindset: if you are nervous, your dog will most likely mimic your behaviour. It will take time for your dog to get used to your baby’s scent and presence. Make it easier by letting your dog smell one of your baby’s items, like a swaddle, a pyjama or a blanket. It’s important for Fido to understand that these items are not toys to be played with.
Give the right attention: By giving your dog attention while your baby is around and ignoring him or her when the baby is asleep, he or she will learn that the baby’s presence is something positive, which will lessen the potential of jealous behaviour. Teach your dog to join you while nursing or giving the bottle to the baby. Train Fido to remain at your feet while rewarding positive behaviour, or teach the “go away” command by tossing a treat further from you and asking your dog to stay at a distance.
Don’t force the note: If your dog is pleasant and soft with your baby, you can have them close together although it’s best not to leave your child and your dog unattended. Have a designated baby-free zone for your dog and teach him or her to use it whenever necessary. Don’t punish your dog for growling since it’s an important warning system that shouldn’t be overlooked and should be addressed. Seek professional assistance if you see your dog is being aggressive towards your baby.
And finally, enjoy this new journey! Pack up baby in a stroller, put Fido on a leash and go for long walks. You’ll see your child and fur baby becoming best friends, a friendship that will ultimately be based on trust and mutual respect.