Congratulations; you’re pregnant! Your ‘to do’ list may already seem like it’s a mile long, but preparing your dog for the new arrival should be near the top of that list.
Bringing a new baby into a home with a dog can be stressful for both the pup and parents. Your pup may be used to being the center of attention but will suddenly be competing for your notice against an eating, sleeping, crying, pooping little person that the dog has never seen or smelled before.
The key to making this transition as smooth as possible for everyone is the preparations done months in advance of the baby’s arrival. Here are some simple tips to follow before the big day.
Teach an old dog new tricks
Some of your dog’s behaviours and habits that seem cute right now could become troublesome with a new baby around. However, no matter the age of your pup, they are never too old to have bad habits trained out of them with the use of patience, praise and treats.
Does your dog like to lay out on your couch or bed during the day? Encourage them to use their doggy bed as a regular resting spot instead. Hide treats or their toys on that bed when they aren’t looking to help teach them that it is their space.
Do people walking by the house cause your dog to bark? Make it harder for him to see out the window by closing the curtains or rearranging furniture so that passersby aren’t such an easy visual distraction.
If they like to jump on you or visitors, rewarding that behaviour by lavishing attention on them as soon as you come in the door will not change their ways. Teach them that the only way to get your attention when you walk in is by waiting patiently until you’ve come in and sat down.
Walk The Dog
The new addition to the family could mean that your dog’s walking schedule may need to be adjusted. Dogs prefer consistency when it comes to their exercise and when they get to go to the bathroom. Get them started on the new walking routine before the baby arrives to get them (and their bladder) fully adjusted.
If your plan is to walk your pup while pushing the baby in a stroller, start practicing that now before the baby arrives. With no baby to worry about, you can work on training your pup to not pull on the leash while you have the stroller. He can also get used to the size of the stroller so that he doesn’t get his precious paws or tail caught in its wheels.
Prep the Baby’s Room
The baby’s room is going to be fresh territory for your pup. New furniture, new smells and new activities in this room will be a big change for your dog. To ease the transition, consider getting the nursery ready as early as possible. Have the crib and all the baby furniture set up as soon as you can so your pup can get used to it all without the added stress of the new baby.
Now is also the time to set the rules about that room. If you don’t want the dog in the room at all, teach them that it is off limits by adding a baby gate to prevent them from entering. If you aren’t going to mind the dog being in the baby’s room, add a doggy bed in the corner so they feel comfortable in the new space.
Introduce New Smells
With a new baby comes a multitude of new smells for your pup. Start using baby powder, baby oil and some of the baby’s soap and shampoo on your skin before the little one arrives to help get your dog used to those smells.
You may also want to introduce the baby’s smell to your dog before the little one comes home from the hospital. Bringing the baby’s used blanket or burping cloth for your dog to smell will help get them ready for the new arrival. The key is to not let your dog take the actual item; instead, just let him smell it from a distance since he needs to know that this new scent is something that belongs to you. It can be the first step in teaching your pooch to respect the baby.
Get Help from the Pros
Even after employing all these tips in the weeks prior to your baby’s arrival, those first couple of days after they come home may still be hectic, full of guests and well-wishers, a frenzied schedule and plenty of excitement. We here at Dogtopia are happy to welcome your pup to our facilities, where they can run around and burn off all the excitement while you get used to your new addition to the family. Many of our facilities also offer training services.
Learn more about Dogtopia’s doggy daycare.