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June 08, 2021
Being a pet parent is awesome, but when you're expecting a baby, it takes parenthood to a whole new level. A common and understandable concern for many parents-to-be is how their dog will feel about the new family addition. While some dogs are better-suited for kid life than others, you can help your dog adjust to a new baby with the proper preparation.
You can start doing several things a few months out to help acclimate your pup to a new baby in the house. Plus, keep in mind that you need to help your dog adjust to the baby and everything that goes along with it. Your pal's about to be bombarded with all sorts of weird and curious items, like baby swings, strollers, and smelly diapers.
Of course, whether you’re having a baby or not, proper training and socialization are paramount when you’re a pet parent. If you haven’t already, take some time to work with your pup and train them in at least basic commands. Use positive reinforcement, stay consistent and patient, and practice the commands in a variety of settings.
When socializing your dog, work in several scenarios that include children and assess how your pup reacts. For example, you can take your dog to a park and walk by a playground (make sure to always keep them on a leash).
If your dog seems comfortable around kids, take it to the next level and try to visit friends or family with children. This can help your pup get used to the idea of being around kids. Plus, as your baby gets older, playdates will be a part of your life, and you’ll have multiple kids around the house.
There are a few supplies that can help you transition into dog and baby life. But you undoubtedly don’t want to be scrambling to get it all together after your baby’s made their grand entrance. After all, you’ll be functioning on zero hours of sleep and trying to learn your baby’s cries and coos.
Therefore, prepare your supplies ahead of time. The sooner, the better, because the closer your due date gets, the busier life will become. Make sure to have plenty of your pup’s favorite treats for rewarding desired behavior and some calming sprays or diffusers like Adaptil.
You should also have some interactive toys that can help keep your pooch distracted and calm, like the Rolly Cannoli. Lick mats are another great way to help your dog cope with a stressful situation, as licking helps release endorphins which can calm down your pet.
Sure, you might schedule your baby’s delivery day, but quite often, baby comes when baby wants to come. In other words, there’s a level of unpredictability that you need to prepare for when it comes to your dog.
As part of your “here comes baby” plan, ensure you arrange for someone to take care of Fido. Ask a trusted friend or family member ahead of time if they are willing to be on stand-by and swoop in and dog-sit at a moment’s notice. Then, make sure you have a schedule laid out along with enough of your pup’s food, medications, etc., so the sitter has everything they need.
If possible, you might also want to consider someone taking your dog for the first few days your baby’s home. This step can help you all get settled in together before adding your fur-baby into the mix.
If your dog doesn’t already have one, you need to set up a special sanctuary for your pup where they feel safe and secure. A crate really is an incredible way to do this, which is why allowing your dog time to adjust to their crate is so critical. Never use the crate for punishment, and leave the door open, so your pup doesn’t feel trapped.
Place a comfy blanket in the crate and give your pup some tasty treats when they go in it. Make sure to associate your dog’s area with positive things so that they know they have a haven to retreat to when things get a little intense.
As silly as it may sound, it’s time to play pretend with your pup. Did you ever have one of those classes in high school where you had to carry around a baby doll for a week as a homework assignment? Well, it’s time to do it again, but let your pooch tag along.
Rock in your chair while holding a swaddled doll. Play recordings of a baby crying. Take your dog for a walk as you push a stroller. Start doing these things a couple of months before the baby’s arrival so your dog can start getting familiar with all of these new contraptions, sights, and sounds.
As you set up the nursery, let your pup check it out, but then you can train them to recognize boundaries. For example, you might train your pup not to enter the room alone or not go past a certain point. For some dogs, when your baby makes their debut, your pup might prefer to stay away, adjusting in their own time.
You may also want to create some no-dog zones in other areas, like around the baby swing and play area. Start training your dog about these off-limit spots a couple of months before your baby arrives.
Finally, have an extra baby blanket with you at the hospital and keep it with your baby after the birth. After the baby has been with the blanket for a while, send the blanket home with someone to put it with your dog. This way, while you and your baby are in the hospital, your dog can get used to the baby’s scent.
When the big day finally arrives, and it’s time to introduce your dog to your new baby, well, take baby steps. For example, let your pup peek in at the baby through the bars of the crib and take a few sniffs. Have treats ready to reward good behavior and offer lots of positive praise.
If you have multiple dogs, make sure to introduce one pup at a time. Most importantly, never force an introduction. If your dog doesn’t seem ready, stop, wait some time, and try again later.
Ensure you know your dog’s signals, and what your dog is trying to tell you, so you know when they’ve had enough. If your pet shows aggressive tendencies, get professional help ASAP.
Most of the time, it all works out beautifully (after a few bumps). However, if your dog can’t seem to handle the new addition and you’re nervous, you might need to prepare yourself for the unlikely possibility of rehoming your pup.
If you don’t have a dog yet, but you plan to add one to your family with young children, then consider breeds that are a good match for kids. Some of these breeds are Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Bulldogs, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise, Poodles, and Pugs (just to name a few).
When you’re expecting, putting together a well-prepared plan is essential, but you also have to allow some room for flexibility, especially when it comes to dogs and babies. Do your best to be consistent, but know that you may need to make some tweaks along the way. For more helpful tips, check out the rest of our blog. You’ll find great tips and info geared toward helping you up your game as a fantastic pet parent.
January 25, 2023