If you're expecting a baby or have recently brought one home, Congratulations! I'm sure you're busy shopping for necessities, preparing the nursery and a bunch of other things. But don’t forget to prepare your dog for this life changing event as well. Your dog already knows something is happening. He knows this based on the changes in "mom's" body and scents.
He doesn’t however know what to expect or what’s expected of him. These are something that you can do that will help:
1. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL TO ASSIST YOU
If your dog has aggressive tendencies, separation anxiety, fears or high levels of excitement, you need to get those behaviors under control immediately. If you’re unable to handle it yourself, enlist some help.
2. DIRECTIONS, BOUNDARIES & LIMITS
If you’re not strict with enforcing rules, now is the time to change that. Small irritations and misbehaviors may not seem like a big deal now, but with a newborn it’ll be a completely different issue. They can easily become major problems. Send your dog a clear message about the behaviors you expect from him.
3. CLAIM THE BABY AND HIS SPACE
Reinforce boundaries. Don’t allow your dog to be close to the baby immediately. Ask for space and distance. Don’t allow your dog to enter the nursery, jump on the playpen or be close while the baby is eating. Make it clear that the baby and his belongings belong to you and not your dog.
4. CONTROL EXCITEMENT
If you like your dog being excited when he sees you, remember that even a small dog can accidentally cause a baby an injury when they’re sharing too much excitement. Only reward and acknowledge calm behaviors with attention and affection. Ignore hyper behaviors.
5. CREATE NEW SCHEDULES AND RITUALS
Caring for a baby is an exhausting process and a lot of work! This will leave a lot less time and energy for your dogs. It will also disrupt their normal schedule and routines. Start making adjustments ahead of time in order to get them used to the new ways.
6. INTRODUCE THE STROLLER EARLY ON
This is one way to keep your dog’s walk schedule. Take the baby with you! This has the added benefit of outdoor exercise for mom, dad and baby. It will take some time for your dog to get used to walking behind the stroller. Practice, patience and consistency will make this an easier process.
7. PLAY BABY SOUNDS
Go on YouTube and look for videos of babies making various sounds. Do this as you go about your daily routine. Of course, it’s not the same as the real thing, but it can help your dog become comfortable with those sounds. It can also help address problem behaviors that may arise from it.
8. EXPOSE YOUR DOG TO YOUNG CHILDREN AND BABIES
If it’s safe to do so, introduce your dog to the various personalities, energy and scents of young humans. Explain to children the proper way to approach and interact with your dog. You may become aware of issues discover issues you didn’t know existed. A lot of dogs behave different around adults than they do with kids.
9. THE SOONER THE BETTER
It’s best to do these things before the baby is even born. Be prepared. Try not to wait. You don’t want to face the problem of having to re-home your dog because you can’t handle him and your new baby at the same time.
With the right knowledge, your dog and your new child will have a wonderful relationship. You’ll be surprised by how quickly their bond and friendship will grow. They will quickly become member of the same pack, and as your child grows, the bond will grow as well.
Always remember: BP4 – Be: Patient, Positive, Peaceful & Persistent
If you continue to have problems, let me know if I can help.