Preparation for the baby’s arrival
- Implementing Change – Ensure that you know what changes you want to make to your dog’s routine long before the baby is due to arrive. Changes should be implemented no later than the 8th month (if possible, well before this) and all family members should be aware of what these are as dogs need consistency from all adults in the house. Introduce the boundaries e.g. where you want your dog to sleep and where he/she can now go in the house.
- Back to Basics – Taking time out to work with your dog in regard to training is essential. Up to a month prior to the baby’s arrival, take at least 15 minutes a day to focus on what you want your dog to be aware of e.g. door manners (not rushing through the door in front of you), basic obedience (e.g. sit /stay making sure your dog gives you eye contact when you give an instruction), good lead work (essential if you are going to walk your dog alongside the pram) and no jumping up (essential if carrying a newborn but also when you are having lots of family and friends round to visit).
- Routine Changes – A new baby can cause major changes to the daily routine. Feeding and walking times will doubtlessly be affected as your focus is more on your new baby. Ensure you have plenty of toys to keep your dog entertained (digging pits in a secure garden or scattered toys would be ideal). A high quality diet that is low in carbohydrates is thought to have a calming influence on dogs. If you’re concerned about your dog not getting enough exercise then it might be an idea to arrange a dog walker if you feel you don’t have the time.
- Scents, Sights and Sounds – Adjusting your dog to the new scents and sounds of a baby is simple and effective in regard to implementing this big change! Often dogs can be unsettled by crying noises and may bark/jump up as they think something is wrong. Purchasing a doll that laughs/cries like a baby is a simple way to introduce your newborn before it arrives. Wrap it in a blanket and carry it around the house – correct your dog if he/she shows any of the attention seeking behaviours. Alternatively you could play a recording of a baby crying to allow your dog to adjust to the noise. With scent, a baby’s blanket that has been cut into pieces can be of use. Each clean piece is placed under where the baby sleeps and then placed in the dog’s crate or bed, getting your dog familiar with the scent.
- Introducing the two–Bringing a newborn home is a happy experience but it can also be a bit stressful so hopefully the preparation you’ve put into your dog’s routine will make it a little bit easier. Preparation, time to adjust and keeping your dog under effective control is the best and safest way to bring your newborn into the family home!