Bringing a new baby into the family can sometimes be an unsettling prospect when you have a dog. Some people are more comfortable with these changes than others but it’s important not to make radical, quick changes in your dog’s routine. Use the months before the baby is born to implement changes and ensure that ALL members of the family (older siblings for example) know the rules and routine that’s established for your dog. Remember, children should never be allowed to discipline a dog!
Prior to the new arrival
It is only when a new baby is expected that owners start to realise that previous attention seeking behaviour from their dog may become a major issue with a new baby in the house. Behaviour like jumping up, pulling on the lead and excessive barking while in the past could be tolerated and even encouraged will now cause big problems with the arrival of a baby.
The time to sort this behaviour is ideally BEFORE the baby arrives. It may be that you simply need to change some routines and be a bit firmer or in more severe cases professional help may be needed.
The New Arrival
New arrivals can often cause your dog to feel confused or stressed. In context of the ‘pack’, your dog may feel as if he/she has lost its position in the hierarchy. Suddenly the dog which was the centre of everyone’s attention now is ignored much more. That is why it’s preferable and kinder to change your dog’s routine months before the baby arrives. Attention seeking behaviours include: –
- stealing baby items
- jumping up
- barking when the baby cries,
- entering the baby’s room unattended or
- nudging/jumping up when the baby is getting fed
This behaviour should be nipped in the bud as soon as it starts.
Where will your dog sleep?
Ensure that sleeping arrangements are sorted prior to the baby’s arrival in order to give your dog time to adjust if you are making changes. A young or excitable dog sleeping close to where your baby is sleeping could present a potential danger to a newborn.
Providing a sleeping crate for your dog is something that the vast majority of dogs learn to enjoy as they love the dark and warm safety of their crate. Make sure it’s introduced early on and give your dog time to adjust (especially if he/she is used to sleeping closer to you or on the bed etc). However, it’s important to note that your dog shouldn’t be left in crate for hours at a time unless it is overnight and you are in the house. If you have a more nervous dog or one that is overly boisterous the use of a crate during the early weeks and months when the house is noisy and busy can provide a safe haven for the dog and respite for a new mum.