Preparing for Baby includes preparations for your dog. Just as everything in your life will change drastically in a moment, so will the dogs’. Help your dog transition to this new routine to ensure an enjoyable companionship between baby and pup!
1. Act out the new routine before the baby arrives. Picture how the dog’s routine will change and start doing those things with him or her now. You may move his crate out of your bedroom, stop allowing him on the couch, and take him on walks early instead of late. Now is a great time to curb any barking, jumping or nuisance behavior that causes stress in the household.
2. Use a doll in the home and treat it as you would your own bundle of joy in a few months. Teach the dog rules such as sniffing but no touching. I like to teach the dog that a small blanket on the floor is off limits and on the blanket the baby can lay or play. Children, especially babies, must always be supervised even with well socialized, calm dogs. If this is your first baby then you do not know how your dog will react under the added stress and every precaution must be taken to ensure safety.
3. Sounds from a baby can frighten a dog. Expose your dog to children and babies by playing a recording of children’s’ noises such as a baby’s cry or child’s screech. The first exposures should be played at a low volume for only a few seconds while the dog eats or is fed treats. Very gradually increase the volume and duration of the children’s noises over several weeks. Find friends and family members with children and babies which you can socialize your dog with. Always keep the dog on a leash at a safe distance from a child and separate the dog if he or she becomes stressed, agitated, or shows any signs of aggression.
4. Teach your dog basic obedience commands sit, down, stay, place, come and heel. This will provide you with control over your dog’s behavior and allow you to direct him more easily when your arms are full.
5. Expose your dog to all the cool baby gear that will be in your home. Put the baby cradles, swings and play centers out and turn them on. Walk your dog with the stroller, teaching him to heel next to you. Purchase baby gates and practice keeping your dog in a room separate from you. If you do not already have a crate invest in one and start conditioning your dog to enjoying the safety and comfort of his very own space.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Take the time it takes to socialize and expose your dog gradually to babies and children. Consult a well-qualified dog trainer early so you can train your dog with obedience commands and learn how to avoid and prevent socialization shortfalls. Congratulations on your new journey with baby and dog!
Katie Weibel, Master Dog Trainer. Providing training for companion, service and working dogs, sharing knowledge and expertise.