How to Prepare Your Dog for the Arrival of A New Baby
It’s always very awkward having to relegate one member of the family to the bench to make room for the new one. This often breeds a lot of resentment, jealousy and mild hair pulling. However, if the older siblings are taught how to care for the young one, they become more involved and you are able to find time for them in the new schedule.
Well, you are about to have a baby, and the elder sibling (your dog) has no idea what she is in for. It’s always great to see dogs and babies getting along, but this isn’t always automatic. Some dogs don’t like those tiny, smelly things you brought into their home and they let their displeasure be seen. But once you are able to properly prepare your dog for the new arrival, there won’t be any issues.
What is a Baby?
It is perfectly natural for your dog to be overwhelmed by the new baby. Heck, even parents get overwhelmed by their new babies. The constant crying, seeking attention, waking up at odd hours, the pooping, the throwing up; it is all so overwhelming. The problem for your dog is she didn’t see any of this coming. While she will eventually learn to understand who the baby is, the initial phase might be rough, and it’s essential to Prepare Your Dog for the Arrival of A New Baby.
Introducing your dog to babies early on is therefore crucial to get it right. It is important that your dog gets to see and hopefully meet babies before your bundle of joy is born. Children of all ages should be introduced to your dog as early as possible, so your puppy begins to know that they are cute and non-threatening at all.
If you don’t have a network of family or colleagues with children, give YouTube a whirl. You can watch videos online, depicting childbirth, babies making noise etc, to get your dog used to him. You can also get the dog used to the apparatus you need for your baby such as car seats and baby chairs. For that extra touch, get her used to baby smells – powder, baby lotion, etc.
The exposure to all things baby-related needs to have a positive association with it. As you watch videos or listen to babies, praise your dog and reward her with generous treats and praise.
Introducing New Training To Prepare Your Dog for the Arrival of A New Baby
As you can imagine, this is a high-pressure situation, which must be handled delicately. Having a baby can be very emotional and demanding, so you will not have enough time for your dog, or yourself really. Getting your dog well trained is therefore an absolute necessity.
A lot of training is needed for your dog before the baby comes. For example, your dog will need to be adept at sitting where she is supposed to. There will be times you don’t want anyone trailing you and you just need her to sit quietly in a corner.
If your dog is a jumper, she will need to be taught not to jump on people anymore. Needless to say, that it could be dangerous when you are carrying a baby and you have this very exciting canine jump on you in your sleep-deprived state.
No Go Areas
A common problem with babies is germ infestation. For this reason, you could decide to make the baby’s nursery entirely off-limits to the dog. Some of your friends might advise for or against it, but it all comes down to what you would be most comfortable with. Bear in mind that when the baby comes, you may not have the energy or the desire to train your dog to do something new. So, if your dog has access to a part of the house or certain objects before the baby comes, it might be difficult to break it afterward.
Teach your dog to sit at the door of the nursery when you or anyone else is inside. You may also want to put an end to the dog sleeping on your bed or jumping on the sofa. Both of these could be rather problematic to terminate, but all things are possible. Provide a comfortable alternative and reward your dog for staying there.
This would be a perfect time to begin to emphasize your dog’s crate or safe zone if it has one. Reward your dog more for staying in her confined space and lavish gifts on her.
Delegate Feeding and Walking
It is amazing how simple tasks like looking in the mirror could become afterthoughts when your hands are full of diapers and wipes. You could be so busy that you would forget not just to feed yourself, but your dog as well.
One way to get around this is to automate feeding. Timers are a great way to ensure your dog gets her food precisely when she is supposed to, while all you have to do is top up the feeder every few days.
When it comes to walking your dog and giving her regular exercise, well, this might also be tricky. You need to be indoors when you are not at work, leaving very little time to take the dog out. Luckily, there is a way you can ensure your dog does not get left behind. Get a dog walker to take the dog out at whenever you can’t do it. If you don’t have a dog walker, you should probably start interviewing one now. Doggie daycares are also a viable option. You should try this out long before the baby comes, to give you enough time to decide which one is best for you.
Establishing New Routines, Or Lack Thereof
There is no easy way to put this: things are going to be upside down, inside out, backward horizontal. That thing you used to call a ‘schedule’ will become obsolete in a few hours. Why? Because you now have to wait for the baby to determine what you are doing. Even as your routine will change, get your dog used to this change as well.
Instead of feeding your dog at a regular time, switch it up for a few weeks. Change the time you take your dog out for a walk, where, and how long. This will be uncomfortable, as dogs are creatures of habit, but the changes are needed to get them prepared for the new normal.
In other words, whatever was routine has to change, to give your dog time to adapt to the new state of flux.
Reducing Your Time Spent Together
This might be the most difficult part of the training. Having to reduce the amount of time you spend with your dog might be painful, but it is good for both of you. From about 4 months before the baby is due, start spending less time with your dog. What most people try to do is shower the dog with all the love they won’t be able to give later, but this sets the dog up to be disappointed,
Limit your contact, so that when you start to do so when the baby arrives, the dog is not thrown into shock. Reduce your playtimes and frequency. What you can do is provide mental stimulation through games and act ivies that don’t require your presence. These games will ensure your dog continues to be well exercised and engaged, so she doesn’t resort to attention-seeking tactics such as littering the place.
Learning Appropriate Contact
Teaching your dog how to touch a baby gently is one of the most important training there is. Hand targeting is one way to do this, in which the dog touches your palm with its nose, very gently.
On the other side, you would also need to teach your dog how to go away. There will be times when her presence will be problematic, so teach her to go to her spot or just walk away.
Practice With A Doll
A common technique is to pretend you have brought a baby home in the form of a lifelike doll, to see how your dog responds. Sure, your dog will know it is not real, but it is a good way to get her used to the presence of something else. Try and make the doll smells like a baby and put her in a crib. You might want your dog near your baby’s crib or far from it. If your dog jumps on you when you carry the doll, then you know you have a jumping issue to sort out. You can also use the doll to teach your dog a few things, like how to respond when you are feeding, rocking or bathing the doll.
When you get frustrated, do remember not to shout at your dog, as it would only make the situation worse. Keep reinforcing the trainings, so your dog gets a constant sense that as things get disrupted, it will get more rewards and who doesn’t like surprises?
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