Experts recommend that you prepare the family dog before the baby arrives. Allow your dog to get involved since rejection could evolve into unpredictable behaviour with undesirable consquences. It is a very hectic time and a time of many changes when a baby arrives. In order to minimize stress for the dog and reduce the chance of an accident you can make changes and preparations ahead of time so that the transition is easier for you and the dog. Accepting the dog as a family member, provides an activity of consideration and respect gives our companion animal a purpose plus responsibility.
Below we give some tips for preparing the dog before the baby arrives and for after the baby arrives as a newborn
Review and firm up obedience
Parents should practice giving cues comfortably in any position. Ex: sitting back on a couch, lying in bed, sitting on the floor. Use cues, that are specific and not used in regular dialogue. Also by teaching your dog their own cues they are unlikely to obey outsiders. Be consistent with cues. Socialize your dog around children in a positive and controlled environment.
Observe how A dog seeks your attention
Know your dog’s sensitivities. Respect your dog’s needs. Understand your dog’s psychological state of mind. Research the breed or mixes. Does he startle with fast motion, noises etc. Begin a baby schedule that includes: Varied feeding times. Crating or “dog zone” times. Vary exercise routines,prepare for change and flexible attitudes. Acknowledge attention seeking, correct behaviour with the right tool. Allow your dog to become familiar with the baby equipment. Teach your dog the behaviour you want around the equipment vs. what you do not want. Doing this ahead makes a world of difference!
Parents can use the baby carrier they plan to use with their baby and put a teddy bear in it to get the feeling of what it will be like moving with this. Work with your dog while you wear this. Walk your dog with an empty stroller or one with some weight to it to get a feel for this and what needs to be worked on NOW. Use a CD of baby noises to introduce and create a positive experience prior to the baby’s arrival.Get the baby lotion and put it on the baby carrier, car seat etc. and the teddy you carry in the sling. Bring the same lotion with you to put the same familiar scent on the baby’s clothing for the dog to be familiar with. Schedule your vet visit well ahead of time to be sure to have all meds available where necessary.
Have Dad bring home a blanket with the baby’s scent on it. Although Dad will have the scent all over him. The blanket can go in the car seat, swing etc. Familiarize your dog with the keeper. Plan a good and safe spot for your diapers! Dogs love the flavour of dirty nappies, especially when bored.
Safety Tips After the Baby Arrives
Never leave the baby alone with the dog even for a second. Dogs can become agitated by the sounds and movements of a baby. Dogs have been known to try to move a baby by carrying the baby in their mouths the way a mother dog might do with her puppies. Other dogs have hurt babies because the baby moves and sounds like prey. If you have to go to answer the phone or the door or just get the baby bottle from the other room, take the baby with you or take the dog with you or close a door or a gate to keep them apart. Even 1 second is too long to leave a dog alone with a baby. Allow supervised close contact between baby and dog to encourage dog to smell baby. Keep the dog well exercised. Hire someone to watch the baby or exercise the dog if you can’t manage. Be sure the dog has quality alone time with ‘guardian’ of at least 10-15 minutes and one-on-one training time with the keeper each day. Be sure that the dog has a crate or other safe place where he can be content to be away from the baby.Make sure the dog never feels rejected during time. Use only positive reinforcement-based training methods with the dog. Never punish or scold the dog in the presence of the baby. You want all associations with the baby to be positive in the dog’s mind. Be very careful with moving baby items such as swings. Some dogs can be very excited by these. Never leave the baby in the swing alone with the dog in the room even if the baby is asleep, even if they are both asleep! If you have any concerns at all about your dog’s behavior or attitude towards the baby, you need our professional help right away.