Dog and a Baby – Get Your Dog Ready for Life Changes
Dog and a Baby – Get Your Dog Ready for Life Changes
Congratulations! Welcoming a new baby into the family is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful for your dog, who was once your only “baby.” All of your attention was on your dog, but now with the new baby’s arrival ahead, there will be new furniture that will show up, rooms being rearranged, schedules needing to change suddenly, and all these new experiences can give your dog anxiety when their lifestyles are drastically altered. Prepare your dog for the baby’s arrival and minimize their stress by gradually getting them used to these new changes in advance. Don’t wait till your newborn is home to help your pup adjust to the expanded family.
Prepare Your Dog for New Experiences
Dogs that haven’t spent much time around babies and children don’t see babies as humans and associate babies as bizarre and frightening. They fear babies’ small size, unpredictable and strange movements, how they wiggle, their scent, and the loud noises they make, such as crying sounds. Therefore, it is a good idea to make a plan to introduce your dog to baby-like sights, sounds, and smells, and basic manners. Additionally, teach your pup how to be gentle so that by the time you bring home the baby, your dog will be familiar and comfortable around the newborn.
Sights, Sounds, and Smells
First, we recommend purchasing a lifelike baby doll and stimulating activities, such as feeding, carrying, rocking, changing diapers, and shaking baby rattles and toys around. Your dog will eventually know the doll is not real, but it will help see what obedience skills you will need to teach your dog before the baby’s arrival. If your dog gently interacts with the doll, praise and reward them with some of their favorite treats.
You can download an app or play a recording with realistic baby noises around your dog for 5 to 10 minutes several times a day. Give your dog plenty of praise, petting, and delicious treats every time they hear the baby sounds, so they associate it with sounds they shouldn’t fear.
After your baby is born, but before bringing your new family member home from the hospital, bring home the blanket the baby has been wrapped in. Allow your dog to sniff and explore the blanket at their own pace to get familiar with the baby’s scent. Next, start using some of the baby’s lotions, creams, shampoos, and powder, so your dog starts to associate the smell with a familiar person.
Your dog will need to get accustomed to seeing and being around new baby equipment. Start practicing walking your dog on a leash while pushing the baby’s stroller before the baby arrives. As deranged, it may make you feel, place the baby doll in the stroller and start training your dog to walk politely on a leash next to the stroller. After enough dedicated practice, by the time the baby arrives, you will be confident to go on pleasant walks with both the baby and your dog!
It is essential to teach your dog basic obedience and how to be well-behaved around the baby. Teach your dog some basic skills such as:
Sit and down: You can teach your dog to sit and stay or be in a down and stay position while feeding your baby or changing diapers. It will help your dog learn to settle and be calm with you while taking care of the baby.
Place: You can also teach your dog to go to their place bed and relax there while you take care of your baby. Having your dog sit or lay down on their place bed gives them their alone time, space, and comfort while being around you and the baby.
Sitting at door entrances and exits: Teaching your dog to sit politely at the door will prevent them from darting out and knocking you over, which is dangerous, especially if you are holding your baby in a carrier.
Come when called: Teaching your dog recall or come to you is one of the most important cues you can teach your pup. If your dog goes near your baby but prefers your dog to come to you, you want to teach them the come cue.
Give Back: If your dog goes to grab your baby’s belongings such as clothes, blankets, toys, then you can give the cue to drop it out of their mouth.
Greet people politely: Teach your dog to greet people with either a sit or all four paws on the ground. If your dog jumps up on you, it can be dangerous if you are holding your baby.
Walking on a leash: Teach your dog to heel and walk politely on a leash to keep you, your dog, and the baby safe when walking in the outside environment.
Dogs can read body language. Suppose you are anxious and worried about your dog and the baby being together in one room. In that case, they can sense, feel, and read the concerning energy, making their anxiety about the new baby even worse. Instead, try to relax and create a calming environment and start practicing breathing normally when your dog is around you and the baby. Praise your dog and toss their favorite high-value treats to them (the same way you did when you held the baby doll) for any time they interact with the baby gently and calmly. If your dog is showing aggressive signs, it is best to contact a qualified trainer or behaviorist to help you.
Dog and Baby Bond
Any significant life change requires an adjustment period, and dogs are no different. Your dog will learn that your love for them has never changed, but now they get to share your love with their new family member! So celebrate and enjoy watching every moment you get to see your sweet dog and new bundle of joy grow and bond together!