Bringing home a baby does not have to be stressful. Yet many new parents worry about how their pet will react. After all, your puppy was the baby in the house for some time now. You showered it with attention, giving it all your love and spare time. How will your fur baby cope when your real baby arrives?
There is no need to worry. Even the most pampered pooch can learn to love and live with a baby in the house. Even more importantly, they can become a playmate, companion, and protector. It is all about how you introduce your dog to your baby. And preparing your puppy dog for the baby starts long before the baby comes home.
It may come as a surprise to you, but your puppy needs to get ready for your baby too! Their life is going to be turned upside down, almost as much as yours. Your dog needs to know what is expected of them and how life will be with a little person in the house. This is naturally a concern to many parents and dog owners who want their family to be safe and happy.
How to prepare for change
A baby may be small – yet they bring BIG changes. And dogs like routine. This is why you need to adjust your dog to the new baby’s coming in stages. Taking it slowly ensures that by the time your baby arrives, your puppy is all set. It is best to begin months before your baby is due.
This is how you avoid sad situations. Too many people end up giving away their pet for fear of it become a safety issue. You should know that it has nothing to do with the kind of dog you have. It is simply not true that some dog breeds are more likely to bite children than other dogs.
Does your dog like kids?
Of much bigger importance is the matter of how your doggie is generally. Is it an aggressive dog? How does it usually act around children? If your dog does not know children or babies, begin by taking it to the park. Show your dog to children in a controlled way. Encourage your pup to sniff and be petted and praise it loudly. This is how your dog will learn to get along with children.
If your dog is very young or very old, you may have other considerations. Very young puppies (under one) have lots of energy. They are more likely to jump up and may be too boisterous around small children. Older dogs may also get grumpy easier and cause problems with children.
It all begins with YOU
Before you bring the baby home, it is necessary to ask a few questions. For example, how is your dog behaving? What is your relationship like with your dog? Is it obedient? Does it recognize you as the leader? Used to jumping up on people when it gets excited? Does it bark too much? Are you giving it enough exercise?
It is crucial that you sort out any behavioral issues with your dog BEFORE the baby comes. This is a good time to strengthen the bond between you. Work on your relationship with your dog. Take your dog for extra obedience classes or make time for lessons at home. Get treats and reward your dog’s good behavior. Don’t worry about spoiling your dog. This is about strengthening your relationship with your dog.
At the very least, your dog must be able to sit and stay on command. Being able to listen to you and obey you is fundamental to your baby’s safety. It will also reduce the stress in your home! An obedient dog will fit in much better into your family. It will also get along much better with your baby.
Dogs thrive on rules. They want to know exactly where they are at with you. The worst thing you can do with any dog is to be inconsistent. Some time before the birth, take your puppy to the nursery or where your baby will sleep. You may decide that your puppy is not allowed in the nursery. By establishing firm boundaries, your dog will learn the lay of the land. This does not have to be a negative experience.
Go in and out of the nursery, gently chasing out your dog. Reward them with a treat every time they stay outside. Tell them to sit and stay. Carry on in the nursery, folding nappies or clothes. Check on your pup, ensure it is staying outside, and praise it for behaving well.
You could also put up baby gates to keep your puppy out of parts of the house. There will be no issue with your dog accepting this. Dogs are very flexible and easily accept new rules. Of course, this should be done positively, with treats to reward them for being good.
As your pregnancy progresses, let your puppy sniff your tummy. Tell your puppy there is a baby coming. Say the baby’s name or just the word baby. In this way, your dog learns that something is happening. Also, this includes them in the process.
Your puppy does not want to be left out! It was the main character in your life for so long. To feel left out can be crushing! This is why you need to involve them as much as possible as you await the baby. Show the baby stroller and carrier to your dog.
As the time for your delivery draws near, you will not have the energy to walk your dog. Arrange for someone to exercise your dog. You don’t want your puppy to have lots of pent up energy now! It may not be a bad idea for your dog to forge a good relationship with someone else too. In this way, it will learn that its walks will continue even if you aren’t around or too busy.
Getting used to change
The best way to show your doggie how things are going to be is by taking it one step at a time. It is unfair to introduce him to your baby, throw him off the bed; keep him outside – in one day! This is bound to cause problems too.
So you need to start off small. Begin a few months ahead of time. You may want to begin with teaching your dog not to jump on beds or furniture. If you leave this too late, your dog may associate the baby with bad things happening in its life.
Dog behaviorists also advise that your puppy should learn to spend more time alone. This will help them to get used to it later on when you are nursing or tending to the baby. Buy more toys and things for your puppy to keep him busy.
Take an extra blanket or item of clothing or soft toy to the hospital with you. After your baby is delivered, put the blanket in your baby’s crib. This is so that the smell of the baby is transferred to the blanket or toy.
Experts recommend that you give your dog something that smells of the baby before it actually meets it. A friend or your husband can do this. When the item is handed to your puppy, repeat the words you have been using to refer to your baby. You could say this is what the baby smells like and let the dog have the item.
This is how your puppy will begin familiarizing itself with the smell of your baby.
This is maybe the most exciting time of all. Bringing your new baby home is a big thing, not only for you but for your puppy too. Remember, you have been away for a few days. Your puppy will be overjoyed to see you. Hand the baby over to dad or grandma and firstly say hello to your dog.
Then, when your dog is calmer, go back to get your baby. Now, you may introduce your baby and your dog. Pay close attention to your dog’s body language. Does it seem agitated or nervous? If it seems anxious at all, wait for your dog to become calm. Speak to it in a firm, gentle voice.
When your puppy is relaxed, invite him to come up and sniff the baby. Tell your dog that this is your new baby. Have some treats handy for your dog. Then your puppy will also learn to associate the baby with positive things.
Remember to stay calm and use a friendly, firm voice. Your dog takes its cues from you. If you seem anxious, it is more likely to be jumpy too.
Life with a new baby
For the next few weeks, your life will be full of feeding times, bath times, nap times and playtime. There will be no spare time for going for walks with your dog or giving attention to your puppy.
Try to keep this in mind. You don’t want your doggie to feel abandoned. Invite your dog to lie down at your feet when you are nursing, for instance. Give them a treat for being quiet and well behaved.
Your dog will quickly see that this is another way of getting your attention and being close to you.
Growing up with doggie
As your baby grows older, have it spend time with your dog. Always be present. Never leave your dog alone with your baby. Even if you want to step outside the room for just a minute, pick up your baby.
Allow your baby to crawl around your dog and become acquainted with it. You need not worry about allergies. Studies show that children who are around animals at a young age are less likely to be allergic. Watch your dog closely to see how it reacts. If it seems nervous or fearful, take your baby away. Encourage your baby to pat your dog. Tell it not to pull your dog’s tail or its fur.
Children tend to love animals and like to have a dog in the family. Teaching your child how to behave around your dog will help them to become friends. Many children remember their family dog as being their first friend. Allowing your dog and your child to spend plenty of quality time together will be the start of a wonderful friendship.
As a final word, always remember! Getting that first introduction right is not only good for your dog and baby but for your whole family!
Before you go introduce your pooch to your baby, take a look at this informative video: