Many couples consider their dog to be their first “baby.” Your dog probably already knows this. When your son or daughter moves in, your habits will change, which may confuse your dog. But, your dog will still be a beloved member of the family.
A newborn profoundly transforms not only your life but also that of your dog, according to dog trainer and It’s Me or the Dog host Victoria Stilwell. Dogs, like newborns, thrive on predictability. He won’t understand why the long walks he loves are getting shorter because he will soon have to share your loving attention with a demanding infant.
Don’t wait till Baby gets home to assist your dog in adjusting to the larger family. Make adjustments to get him accustomed to a new routine while you are still pregnant, advises Stilwell.
When You Find Out You’re Expecting
It’s time to enroll your dog in a basic obedience class if he hasn’t already. When you’re eight months pregnant or holding a baby in your arms, behavior that currently seems innocent—like jumping up to welcome you at the door—might become problematic. A teacher can assist in resolving that.
Many dogs have never previously been around kids. Small people behave in ways that adults do not, including as making rapid movements, shrieking, and approaching dogs. Take your pet to the park to get him used to kids and see how he responds to them up close, advises Stilwell. If your mom friends have children in strollers, ask them if you can walk close to them or, if everything goes well, beside them. Your dog will become gradually accustomed to the sight and sound of kids using these techniques.
Three Months Before Your Due Date
Prepare your dog actively for his upcoming “sibling.” Despite the absurdity of it, treat a doll like your child. Coo to it, carry it about the house, and put it in the baby carrier. Have the doll “use” the swing, crib, and bassinet after they have been set up.
Co-founder of the online pet-search website PetFinder.com Betsy Saul adds, “You want the dog to become used to these things now, not when your infant is in them. Allow your dog to explore everything by sniffing as that is how he does it best. And get him used to the scents of baby powder and lotion, Saul adds.
As you’re moving the wheels of your upcoming child, practice walking your dog. This will help your dog become accustomed to the stroller, adds Saul, adding that your neighbors might be perplexed. Make sure the leash is not tethered to the stroller handle. If your dog occurs to spot a squirrel or another canine companion, he might jerk the leash, which is risky if there is a child in the pram!
The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” should be forgotten. Try using the “back” cue to teach your dog about personal space, which is a crucial lesson, according to Stilwell. Say “back” and extend your hand as you shuffle toward your dog while standing in front of him. He will inevitably retract, at which point you can please him with a reward like compliments, a pat on the head, or a tiny cracker. Over the coming months, work on this cue and eventually stop moving forward so that you only need to lift your hand and say “back.”
One Month Before Your Due Date
You will be gone for a few days once you leave for the hospital to give birth. Do you know who will be walking and feeding your dog?
Create a list of reliable pet caretakers or close friends, advises Saul. If you need to ask someone to take your dog out later at 3 a.m., enlist the help of someone you can trust. Moreover, keep a backup person on hand.
Concerned about managing a newborn and your pet at first? Consider enrolling your dog in “doggie day care” right away to test it out. According to Stilwell, a reputable center will have at least two staff members for every ten dogs and prevent violent behavior from the bully dogs.
How to Help Them Get Along
Your dog probably doesn’t fully understand why his familiar home life is changing. Due to the increased stimulus, he can encounter greater difficulties than usual. Stilwell recommends: “Teach him another option rather than reprimanding him and shouting “no, no, no” at him all the time. Change his course of action such that it makes him pleased.” Jumping on well-wishers is he? Tell him to use his new chew toy.
Involve your dog in activities involving the newborn, advises Becker. As you’re changing a diaper, allow him to sit close and converse with both of your “kids” at the same time. You’ll pay Bowzer attention and help Baby develop her verbal abilities as well. Over time, your child will transform from the stranger your dog is wary of to his favorite playmate and closest friend.
In conclusion, your children—furry or not—can really lead fulfilling lives.