Preparing your Dog Family Member for the Arrival of your Baby
So you have a dog and you are expecting a baby. You may have started to think about how your dog is going to deal with this new addition to the family. Instead of just ‘waiting to see how it goes’, there is so much that you can do to help to prepare your dog to make this as smooth a transition as possible.
Here are a few things you can do to help to start to prepare your dog for the arrival of your newborn:
Carry A Doll Exercise
Carrying and caring for a baby doll for short periods of time here and there is a great way to help prepare you as well as your dog! This can help you to start to think about how you can direct your dog when your hands are occupied. It will also give you an insight as to how your dog is likely to react to you giving something else attention other than them. Does your dog still listen to you when you are holding the doll?
How does your dog handle the situation if you lift the doll up from the floor? Pass the doll to another person?
This is a great exercise for preparation so you can work with your dog to help them with the changes that are soon to take place.
Prepare With Baby Equipment
Baby equipment and toys can be noisy, take up space and are often at doggy eye level. Getting your dog used to some of the sights, sounds and smells of this equipment before baby arrives is a good idea. Baby equipment and toys can often be quite stressful for a dog. This can potentially lead them to create a negative association towards the baby. Knowing how your dog is likely to react to different types of equipment is important so you can prepare and consider what you will do.
Preparing With Baby Sounds
Whether a CD or digital download, playing baby sounds is another way to help prepare your dog. It is expected and normal for dogs to be inquisitive. Practising desired behaviours with your dog ahead of time can help. Something like baby cries = go get your toy would be preferred over baby cries = go to the baby, as this is not a good long term response for your dog to have.
Consistent exposure to a variety of newborn baby vocalisations will help your dog adjust to this new sound.
Flexible Baby Friendly Schedule
There is one thing that you can guarantee with the arrival of a newborn and that is that you will not have the same routines/schedules as you did before. Getting your dog used to and familiar with flexibility in their routine is something to practise as soon as possible. There is likely to have to be some changes. Getting your dog used to these changes before baby arrives will make things so much easier for you and your dog.
In conjunction with the above exercises, try to take the time to become familiar with canine communication. Understanding and being able to recognise subtle signs that your dog is uncomfortable with certain situations is important in helping them to adapt to and enjoy family life.
Thank you to Gemma Abbott BSc (Hons) Expert and Educator in Dog & Baby and Dog & Toddler Dynamics from Dogs Bump Babies & Beyond for writing this guest blog. If you would like to find out more about preparing your dog for life with your baby, please visit Dogs Bumps Babies & Beyond.