Expecting a baby is such an exciting and special time. There's so much you will be preparing for and if you have a dog, getting him/her ready is just as important! We teamed up with Becca, dog trainer & founder of Believe Pet Care, to give you some tips on how to prepare and introduce your dog to your newborn!
First and foremost, if your dog has any serious problem it is important to seek professional help. Anxiety, aggression, fear, whatever it may be needs to be worked on and controlled prior to the baby arriving. Use the time you have before your baby arrives to practice consistency and reinforce any rules or boundaries you have.
Teach your fur-baby the skills he/she needs to know on how to interact safely with their new human sibling. About 4 months prior to the arrival of your newborn, start to introduce your dog to the new sounds (crying, etc), sights, products (cribs, baby toys, etc), and experiences they'll encounter when your baby is home. When you do this, reward your dog. This way they familiarize these things with rewards, and learn to love new life with your baby. Will your dogs daily routine change when the baby arrives? If so, you want to get your dog used to them. Give them about 6-8 weeks to adjust to these new changes before the baby arrives.
Prepare your dog by using a doll. Yes, a doll, we know it sounds strange but, some behavior specialist recommend it! Your dog will quickly realize it isn't real, but by using the doll and doing common activities (carrying, feeding, rocking, etc) will help you see how their initial reactions will be. This will help you with training your dog on how to react as well as gives you practice on how to hold your baby while interacting with your dog.
Grab your stroller and go for walks with it and your dog prior. This helps you and your dog adjust to walking with a stroller. By the time your baby comes, you both will have it down.
OKAY. STOP. AND BREATHE. Dogs can feel and sense our energy. If your anxious and worried, your dog will notice/feel that. Work on your energy.
Time to bring your baby home? The ASPCA has a detailed blog on what to do, we'll link it here
. Here's the brief read on it:
- first have everyone who lives in the house go in first so your dog can have their excited hello to you
- give him/her a few minutes to finish their greetings and let out some of their energy
- put your dog/s on a leash
- get treats ready to reward good and positive behavior
- stay calm & relaxed (your dog feeds off your energy)
- as you walk in your house, talk to your dog/s in a calm and cheerful voice
- have the person helping use the treats to distract him/her and divide their attention
- have them do cues such as sit and down to be able to reward the positive behavior
- give your dog praise for calm interest in your baby *associate good things with the baby
- when ready to introduce, sit down in a quiet place, baby in your arms and your dog on a leash with the person helping
- speak in your calm, loving, and happy voice as your dog approaches your baby
- ensure that meeting his/her new friend is fun and happy
- if your dogs body language is friendly and relaxed, have them walk towards your while keeping the leash short but loose
- if he/she wants to, let your dog sniff your newborn while you speak softly and praise her for her gentle investigation
Be sure to check out the linked article from the ASPCA. They also share how to prepare for life with a toddler and dog as well as how you can teach your child how to respect your dog and their space.
Make this new chapter in your life as stress-free as possible. Ensure the safety and well-being of all your babies (because don't forget, your dog IS still your furever baby)!