Tips on How to Prepare Your Dog for a New Baby
Being a fur parent is a wonderful thing. With a dog member in the family, you have a loyal friend and a playful pup in one. And what love and care you give your pup, he’ll return the favour many times over.
Dogs are known for their strong attachment, devotion and loyalty to their fur mums and dads, so when a baby comes along, some complications may arise. After all, both dogs and babies crave the attention of their parents.
With a new baby, your time and attention will be divided, old routines may be broken or changed, and your pup might not know how to behave in the presence of the tiny little human he knows nothing about.
So, to ensure introductions go smoothly and everything goes well between your baby and your pup, there are things you need to do first. Here’s how you can prepare your dog for a new baby.
Set a training timeline
When you know a baby’s on the way, you have to make sure you help your dog develop behaviours and habits that’ll make your baby’s homecoming a stress-free event. You can do this by creating a training timeline for your pup.
- Start teaching your pup basic obedience skills. If you don’t have time, enrolling him in an obedience class can help accelerate his learning.
- A few months prior to your baby’s birth, give your pup opportunities to socialise with children. Allow him to experience new things, including sounds, sights and smells. Observe how these encounters affect him. Take him to a children’s play park and allow him to get used to being around playful tiny tots. Always reward him for good behaviour.
- About two months before your baby’s arrival, start modifying your pup’s routine as if your baby were already there. This can include his feeding, toilet, exercise and sleeping schedules.
- Gradually introduce baby things and equipment into your pup’s environment, such as your baby’s playpen. Let him smell it, as he’s naturally curious. Let these baby items become part of his daily surroundings until these no longer bother him. Play baby sounds a few hours every day and try putting on some baby lotion until he gets used to it. Try wearing a baby carrier or pushing a weighted pram. See how your pup reacts and how you manage having to do these things in the presence of your pup.
Test his manners
After training your pup, whether in a group class or on your own, test how he behaves daily in response to verbal and non-verbal cues. It’s especially important for him to master basic good behaviour, such as responding to commands like sit, stay, down, wait, settle, come, go away, etc.
Crate training is also advisable, as providing your pup his own space lets him know he has his place in the household. It’s his personal haven for when things get a bit chaotic in the household.
Also, learn to rein him in case he displays needy or boisterous behaviour when greeting other people. During training and when you have opportunities to teach your pup new things, always apply positive reinforcement.
Make things easier for you and your pup as you prepare for the arrival of your baby. Whilst you can switch up his schedule, including his feeding times, you can also opt to invest in an automatic feeder so your pup can stick to his original mealtimes. This means less stress for him and you.
In anticipation of the hectic first few weeks of your baby’s arrival, you can arrange to have a professional dog walker take over exercising your pup. Make sure you give your dog time to get used to a new person walking him at set times of the day. This way, once your baby arrives, your pup would already be comfortable with the dog walker you choose.
If your pup is sociable or gets along well with other dogs, you can also consider taking him to doggie daycare once or twice weekly. If you have family or friends who are willing to dog-sit for you occasionally, take advantage of their offers as long as your pup is happy to be with them. Do this a few weeks before your baby is born to ensure your dog is comfortable with whatever arrangements you make.
Start enforcing new rules
When the baby comes, you may have to enforce new rules that restrict your pup’s old privileges. To ensure your pup doesn’t associate these changes with your baby, start implementing them a few months prior to your baby’s birth.
These changes can include:
- Not allowing your pup to jump on you, whether on a chair, sofa or your bed
- Introducing him to his own dog bed, which you can place in his crate or exercise pen
- Discouraging him from barking at just about anything
- Getting him used to wearing a dog seatbelt or staying inside a crate or carrier while on the road
- Designating spaces, such as your baby’s nursery, that he’s not allowed to enter without an invitation or command
This is also the time when you can start installing baby safety equipment such as a baby gate/barrier or a pet door. Whatever modifications you introduce in your pup’s lifestyle, do them gradually, be patient, and always reward his good behaviour.
Prepare your pup for baby moves
Untrained dogs can react aggressively to unfamiliar movements that babies make. These include tugging, pinching, poking, pulling the ears, touching his mouth, crawling and coming on too closely.
You can teach your pup to not react negatively to these actions by doing these gradually. Lightly tug or poke him and then give him a treat. Do the same with other movements, always following up with a treat. However, do not try to introduce one movement after another in quick succession. Strive to get him used to one or two movements a few times in a day until he no longer seems to care.
Ensure smooth introductions
When your baby arrives, it’s alright to let your pup sniff around at a safe distance. Maintain the distance between your pup and your baby for a couple of days. Never leave your baby unattended for whatever reason. After some time, your pup will eventually get used to having the baby around and will start treating your child like just another family member.
You can then let him slowly get closer to your baby under strict supervision; but keep calm and relaxed. Once your pup develops his own brand of care and love for your baby as part of his pack, it will be easier to nurture this feeling and ensure good dog behaviour around your child.
Supervise interactions as your baby grows
It’s important to teach your child to respect your dog as well by discouraging them from bothering your dog. Teach your child boundaries, and always be there to supervise their interactions. This way, you can prevent both minor and major irritations that can get out of hand.
However, if your dog exhibits untoward behaviour even after many attempts to prepare him and get him adjusted to your baby, it might help to consult with a professional animal behaviourist.
At Babyroad, we stock a large variety of safety gates to help you prepare your home for the arrival of your little one. Find all the essentials you need to introduce your dog to you baby at Babyroad. Contact us for more information today.