When you’re expecting, there are so many things to do in preparation for the arrival of your new baby. It can be both exciting and overwhelming. And just like the adjustments you will make to being a new parent, your dog, who you probably consider to be your first baby, is going to have to make some big adjustments as well.
Here are some things you can do to help your dog transition from being an only child to welcoming a new baby into the home.
Things to do BEFORE bringing baby home:
- Teach your dog a Place command. Use the place command (go to a dog bed and stay there) to keep your dog included in your day while also keeping him from getting underfoot or too close to delicate baby activities i.e. nursing, changing diapers, floor time.
- Correct any jumping behavior. Now is the time to teach your dog that jumping up on people to say hi is no longer allowed. You are going to be carrying your newborn baby in your arms around the house and the last thing you want to worry about are accidents or injuries caused by an excited jumping dog.
- Teach your dog to take a break. Create a safe, quiet space for your dog to go to if he is feeling stressed or uncomfortable with all the new baby excitement i.e. lots of guests and family visiting your home. Put your dogs crate somewhere quiet and out of the way, and then teach him to go there when you see any signs of stress.
- If your dog is used to riding in your vehicle where your baby’s car seat will be located, you’ll want to train your dog to either A) ride in a kennel (if you have space in your vehicle) or B) wear a harness with dog seatbelt tether. This will keep your baby safe from being climbed or jumped on in the car and it keeps your dog safe in case of an accident.
- Get a doll and let your dog see you holding it and carrying it around the house. Teach your dog to respect the space around your baby. If you plan to use a baby sling, let your dog get used to seeing you wearing it with the doll.
- Let your dog investigate all the new baby equipment like bouncers, rockers, baby strollers, car seats, etc. before the baby is using them.
- Get your dog used to any new scented products like baby lotions and diaper cream by wearing it on yourself and letting your dog smell you.
- Play baby noises (YouTube crying baby noises) to desensitize your dog.
- Take your dog for walks alongside the baby stroller to get him used to the wheeled addition to your walks together.
- Create boundaries and off-limits areas. Use baby gates to designate any areas you wont allow your dog as dog-free areas, like the babys room.
- Make a plan. Determine who will care for your dog while you are at the hospital, whether you hire a professional pet sitter or have a family member who will stay at your home, make sure that person is on-call and ready for when you head to the hospital. Also, think about finding dog care help for the first several weeks after your baby is home while you all adjust to the new routine. Consider hiring a dog walker to make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and attention while youre focusing most of your energy on your new baby.
Things to do AFTER the baby is born:
- Bring home something the baby has worn to let your dog become familiar with their smell.
- Introducing your dog and new baby should be planned out and controlled. If your dog gets excited when you typically get home, have someone go in and leash him up before the baby enters the home. Wait until your dog has calmed down and everyone is settled, then allow your dog to have a quick look and sniff before sending your dog to his place. Keep a leash on your dog in the house for the first few days to help you get easy and quick control when needed.
- Remember safety first should be your new motto when it comes to your dog and baby being around each other. Teaching your dog to respect the space around the baby is a must.
- Make sure your dogs needs are being met. Hire a dog walker to help exercise your dog. Buy some puzzle toys and slow feeders to keep your dog mentally stimulated and busy throughout the day. Find time for some 1-on-1 quality time spent with just you and your dog, even if its just 5 or 10 minutes. Remember that a dog who is happy and fulfilled is a dog who stays out of trouble and is easier to live with.
Need more help with preparing your dog for a new baby? Contact us today!