Bringing a new baby home is an exhausting, confusing, but exciting time for the parents and it can impact just as much on our pets, especially dogs, particularly if they have been the ‘child’ in the family up until that point.
Putting some measures in place before the new arrival and maintaining some simple, but consistent rules, once they are with you, can make a huge difference to how your dog accepts and copes with the new family member and, hopefully, will set them up for a great relationship with their new sibling!
Firstly, prepare you dog for all the new stuff and equipment that will arrive along with the baby. Most parents get the nursery sorted well in time but also place out things like rocker chairs, play mats and moses baskets, especially if they are going to be in the communal areas of your home, so your dog can get used to them.
The other thing babies upset are routines and peace and tranquility! Dogs have very sensitive hearing and some can be upset by the sound of a crying baby. You can help desensitize them to it by playing baby noises in the house in the months leading up to the new arrival. CDs are available with these sounds on and come with instructions on how to introduce them properly.
Some dogs are very routine based but these usually go out of the window with little ones! If your dog does have a set routine, help them now by starting to vary things, so they are more able to cope with the changes to come.
You should also ensure that your dog is well trained and able to follow commands. Simple instructions like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ are vital. As are ‘drop it’, for when they pick up baby toys (!) and also ensure they are able to ‘go to bed’. This will help to get them out of your way, or stop them getting too close to the baby, without them feeling chastised. You need to make this a positive command and give praise (and maybe treats), when they take themselves away. If they are allowed on the furniture or your bed, think about whether you want this to continue once you child is home. It may no longer be appropriate and so rather than waiting for after the new arrival, start changing the rules now, so your dog doesn’t feel ‘pushed out’ and you aren’t tempted to shout at them when you are tired and short-tempered.
If your dog is used to being lavished with attention, now might be the time to pull back a little on this. I don’t mean you should ignore them but start giving them more space and maybe introduce a few new toys or some treat balls, so they can learn to entertain themselves and realize that not having you around all the time, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
There is no need to shut your dog out entirely with a new baby and indeed, encouraging some carefully controlled meetings between the two should help set them up for a good relationship in the long term. Also, don’t forget once the little one starts to move around, they also need to be taught some manners and how to be nice to their pets! This is a two way street! | 04.15.16 @ 12:29