Dogs and Babies
You and all of your family members are super excited about your pregnancy – or are they??
Have you forgotten about someone??
How do you think your dog is going to react to your new bundle of joy? This can be a stressful time for your dog particularly if they have been an “only child” and have never had to do anything to earn your love and attention.
Stress can lead to anxiety and anxiety can lead to sibling rivalry which can manifest from anything that resembles “sulking” to aggressive actions.
Therefore it is imperative that as soon as you find out about your pregnancy, that you not only start preparing yourself, but also preparing your dog.
If your dog has never done any obedience and doesn’t follow basic cues such as sit & stay, then you should begin lessons immediately don’t wait until you are 8 months along and think that your dog will be fluent with these exercises with just a few weeks of practice!
If they are used to spending all of their waking moments with you, start backing off and giving them a little less attention every day – this doesn’t mean that you can’t still love on them, just make them work a little harder for your attention.
Also start getting into a routine that you think you will be able to stick with when the baby arrives – dogs love routine so if you are going to be walking the dog at a certain time, start practicing now with the dog walking calmly beside the stroller.
If the dog/s are not going to allowed in the nursery room, then start practicing with them waiting outside the door – use baby gates if necessary & always make it a positive thing for them to be away from you in these situations – walk back to the doorway occasionally and give the dog a treat.
Get yourself a life size DOLL and start swaddling it and carrying it around the house – have a CD of baby cries and noises playing quietly in the background to begin with and gradually increase the noise levels – again as long as the dog/dogs are calm, give them the occasional treat. You can also download these sounds from Itunes.
Another great way to prepare is to start putting on baby lotion, powders etc. that will be used on the baby so that they get used to those smells around the house – as you know, dogs sense of smell is really strong and so we need to prepare them in as many ways as possible so they are physically and mentally prepared for the changes that are about to happen.
Preparing to bring baby home:
Have a family member bring home a blanket that the baby has been wrapped in a few days before bringing baby home so they get used to the baby’s smell before the new member arrives at the house.
When you first arrive home from the hospital, the new mom should have lots of yummy treats with her so she can interact with the dogs – have someone else take the baby into another room – this will allow the dogs to get their excitement of having their “mom” home again out of their system and get calm before introducing them to the baby.
Once this has been achieved, you can then have them sit quietly next to you and the baby & reward them for appropriate calm behavior. This way you are making it a positive experience to have the baby around – NOTE: For this part of the exercise, use High Value rewards that they will only get when the baby is around. ( Cheese, Chicken, Hotdog etc.).
Life will be hectic to begin with but try to maintain your regular routines as much as possible and try to also give the dog/dogs some one-on-one quality time with you each day as well and soon your life will be almost back to normal.
• NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG AND BABY UNSUPERVISED