PREPARING YOUR DOG FOR A NEW BABY
There’s so much to think about when you’re getting ready for a baby, but if you have a dog it’s worthwhile preparing early to ensure a safe and happy start to the relationship between your fur child and your human one.
Here are my tips for helping your dog prepare for the new arrival!
Solve existing behavioural issues
Finding the time to do behavioural training might be difficult after baby comes, and you don’t want to be dealing with tough behaviours while also trying to look after a new baby. Plus, behaviour that seems harmless now – like your dog jumping up on you – may become dangerous if you are heavily pregnant or holding a brand new baby in your arms. If your dog has seriously problematic behaviours such as aggression, you may wish to consult a professional behaviourist. Our Behaviour Clinic can support you if this is the case, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you need professional help.
Ensure your dog walks well on a lead, without pulling, tugging you or lunging unexpectedly. This will make it easier for you to keep taking your dog out on walks, even if you have a pram to manage as well. You may like to do some practise walks with the pram before baby arrives, to help your dog get used to it!
When you find out you’re having a baby, begin socialising your dog with lots of babies and kids, rewarding it for any positive interactions with them. If you don’t have friends with little ones, perhaps head to a local park or walk past a school at lunchtime to help your dog adjust to kids being around. If your dog hasn’t been socialised with kids much, be very cautious when you get started and keep your dog on a lead and in a muzzle if necessary.
You can desensitise your dog to baby noises beforehand so they are unfazed by the real thing when it comes along. Find recordings of babies crying, laughing and screaming then play these sounds to your dog on a regular basis at all times of the day. Start at a low volume, then increase the volume slowly in small increments only when your dog is acting calmly and not stressed. Reward your dog for calm behaviour while these sounds play.
Baby’s sleeping space
I recommend you make the nursery off-limits to your dog by using training to condition it to understand this is a place in the house they are not allowed without you. Once your dog understands the rules, you can allow them to enter for a little exploration – but maintain enough control to send your dog out of the room when you decide to. If you find it difficult to maintain this flexibility then it’s best to keep it fully off limits.
Installing safety gates creates separate areas in your home so you can allow your baby to have some free floor time without being in the dog’s space or making the dog uncomfortable. Installing these ahead of time will help your dog get used to being restricted to certain areas of the house sometimes.
Introducing dog and baby
Want some help with ensuring the first meeting between your dog and your beautiful new baby goes well? Read my blog here on how to introduce a dog and a new baby!
Need help sorting behaviour issues before your baby arrives?
Our Dog Zen Virtual Dog School is designed to show you how to solve the most common behavioural issues and teach your dog any of the basic commands it may not have mastered yet.
If you’d like to work on any of your dog’s behaviours before your baby arrives, this is the place to start! Find out more here.