Most new and expectant parents have a lot to think about and prepare for when a baby is coming into the world. One of those things, which can be sometimes overlooked, is how the family dog is going to react. This is something which happened to myself not so long ago, and it was a big concern. However, with a little research and a lot of preparation, we were able to make sure the arrival went well. This is a little guide, which is indebted to Cesar Millan’s great advice on dog behavior.
Preparing Before the Baby Comes Home
The most important time to prepare your dog is before you or your partner gives birth. Dogs need affection, attention, discipline and routines. They also need to be aware of the pecking order in the pack and to be submissive to the humans in the household. Here’s some advice on how to prepare your dog for the baby’s arrival:
- -Set new no-go zones and boundaries for your dog around the areas where you expect the baby to be; this includes the nursery. Make sure your dog knows what’s in the room, but also that they can only go in there when you invite them.
- -Set out a new daily routine for your dog which takes into account changes to the current one a baby will impose. Think about feeding times, sleeping times, and so on, and plan walk and play times around this so when the time comes, your dog does not notice the disruption because what it sees as its routine is intact.
- -Socialize your dog with babies and children if you can. This has to be closely supervised and controlled, but it’s good if they are used to kids being around.
- -Train your dog more to smooth out misdemeanors, reward good behavior and especially submissive behavior.
- -Seek professional dog behaviorist advice on what to do generally and your dog -specifically.
- -After the birth, bring a cloth like a burp cloth, which smells of your baby home with you. Invite your dog to come to you to sniff it.
The First Time for Your Dog to Meet the Baby
The most important time of all, is the day the baby comes home. This is when your preparation comes to the fore. The best routine is to:
- -Tire your dog out with a longer than normal walk.
- -At this time, your partner and others (not too many) bring the baby home.
- -Pause for a moment on the step, make sure the dog is calm and submissive.
- -Everyone in the home; especially whoever is holding the baby, must be calm and relaxed too - no excitement.
- -Let the dog sniff, but keep it at a respectful distance at first.
- -Then the baby holder can gradually allow the dog closer - keep it slow, calm, and controlled.
Lastly, I hope your introduction goes as well as mine did and that your dog is happy, gets attention, and the pack is a happy unit. If your dog does not react well, then you have to put your baby first, even if that means saying goodbye to your beloved pet.
Article written by Emma Mills.