How to prepare your dog to meet your newborn
It’s true that there’s nothing more exciting than starting a family. Sometimes though, the thought of introducing your fur baby to your actual baby can cause pet parents a considerable amount of anxiety. For the most part, dogs don’t really like change and the new addition to the family can cause them stress if not done carefully. They may not respond well to sudden changes in routine and lifestyle, so you need to do your part to get them ready for what will no doubt be a huge amount of change in your household. To help all those parents to be, we’ve put together the complete guide on preparing your pooch for the arrival of the stork.
The key strategy you need to adopt in preparation of the new arrival is to get your dog used to all the new sights, smells and sounds that are associated with new babies.
Walk with your pram
It’s always worth spending time training your dog before your baby arrives. Going out for walks with your pup and your pram will is a great idea, as it will prepare them for the big change well in advance. If your dog is the hyperactive type, gently dissuade them from jumping up on the pram and be sure to reward them for good behaviour. You also need to train them to heel as it will be difficult to manage your pram and a dog that keeps pulling on the lead when you’ve got a baby to think about as well. You may look a bit strange wandering around your local park with an empty pram, but it will be well worth it when your baby actually arrives.
Change your walking routine
We’re willing to bet that just the word ‘walkies’ is enough to get your dog’s tail wagging. You may want to consider changing your dog’s walking routine slightly before your baby arrives. Start taking your dog on slightly shorter walks and take them on routes they’re not used to. Babies are unpredictable to say the least so your dog will need to adapt to fit in with their routine. You may also want to think about walking your dog at different times of day.
Install baby gates
Baby gates aren’t just for babies, they can be used for dogs too. They’re handy if you want to restrict your dog’s access to certain areas of the house, whilst still enabling them to feel like part of the family. When you first bring your baby home you’ll want to introduce them really slowly, so baby gates are great for creating a bit of distance in a less stressful way. If you decide to go down the baby gate route, practice restricting your dog’s access to certain rooms in the house before your baby is born. The last thing you want is your pup wondering why they suddenly don’t have full roam of the house.
Play baby noises
If one thing’s for sure, babies sure do make a lot of noise! Newborns especially cry a lot and make all kinds of interesting noises that your dog might find confusing and/or stressful. You can download recordings of babies online that are designed especially for dogs. In the weeks leading up to the birth, play these recordings at regular intervals throughout the day, starting with a really low volume. As time goes by, gradually increase the volume and you will find that your dog is able to carry on as normal without being frightened or alarmed by the crying noises.
Get them used to new smells
We all know that dogs have a very heightened sense of smell, so in the weeks leading up to the birth, start using baby products around the house so your dog isn’t confused by the new smells. Bathe with baby shampoos and apply baby lotion after showering so your dog can get a good whiff.
Get them used to new equipment
A few weeks before your due date, unpack all your baby equipment and put them in place ready for the new baby. Your dog needs to get used to the presence of the cot, pram, changing mats, etc. so that he/she understands that they’re not toys and that they’re objects that are there to stay.
Teach them how to be gentle
Above all, spend time training your dog on how to be gentle. We all know how delicate babies are, especially in the newborn stage so it’s worth getting a small doll to help with training your dog. Try to get your dog to understand that when you’re holding your doll, they must always approach with caution and refrain from jumping up or barking loudly. If your dog does this, turn away from them and don’t give them attention until they stop. You can offer your pooch a treat and use positive language when your dog behaves in a positive manner, but definitely try to make it clear that negative behaviour will get no reward.. Do your best to not cuddle your dog whilst holding your doll and save your affection for when it’s just you and your canine companion.
Ultimately, bringing your new baby home is a really exciting and special time in your life and it can also be a memorable time for your dog too, if you take the right steps. Dogs are protective and loving animals and their love of children has been well documented over the years. The meeting of the minds doesn’t have to be a time of stress or worry provided your dog is prepared well in advance.
Do you have a new baby on the way? What steps are you taking to prepare your dog? Connect with us on social media and share your experiences with us!