How to Prepare Your Dog for Your New Baby
From the minute the pregnancy test comes back positive, your world can suddenly turn into a long and crazy checklist of things to do as you ready yourselves for baby to arrive. Some of the prep work is fun, like decorating the nursery. Other things may seem more energy draining, like studying up on baby tech and installing car seats. But did you know that your dog may need some baby prep too?
But, it will pay off in the end to include Fido in your baby prep frenzy. After all, your dog’s entire world will change the instant you bring your baby home. Just like that, daily walks will be harder to squeeze in, games of catch in the backyard may be forgotten and — oh yeah — a tiny bundle of new smells and sounds suddenly appears. Scroll on for some helpful tips on how to help your fur baby prepare for life with their new human brother or sister.
1. Start as soon as you can. Nine months is a pretty good chunk of time to get your dog to learn a new command or routine. Don’t have that long? Even four weeks is enough time, if that’s all you have. The most important thing is that you give yourself time to introduce and reinforce the behaviors and routines you want your dog to know once the baby arrives.
2. Change up the routine. Newborns sleep a lot, but not for very long stretches of time. Pretty soon you’ll be feeding, changing and rocking that sweet baby to sleep around the clock. And even the most laid-back newborn will wipe you out. Plan on not having the energy to give your pooch the attention he’s used to, and prep them for longer stretches of downtime before the baby comes. If you have a crazy active breed that requires a lot of exercise, consider signing up for a doggy daycare program, hiring a dog walker or asking a dog-loving friend or neighbor to help out.
3. Brush up on obedience training. Pretty soon you’ll be walking through the door juggling a baby in a car seat, a diaper bag, groceries and who-knows-what-else. And your super enthusiastic furry greeter will be there waiting for you! What used to be cute may soon become annoying — only your dog won’t understand why. Think about the not-so-great habits your dog is used to getting away with and put them in check now. Just make sure that you keep training right up to the baby’s arrival. The Humane Society has some great training tips, if you’re just starting out.
4. Establish your boundaries. Do you want the baby’s nursery to be a dog-free zone? Set up the boundaries you want your dog to keep before the baby’s move-in date. It will be incredibly stressful on you and your pet to establish new house rules and new introductions all at once. You can start by putting your dog in a “stay” command while going into the nursery. Start off small with a 10-20 second activity and slowly work your way up to keeping the dog in “stay” while you rock in the rocker, fold and put away clothes or sing a song next to the crib. When you come out of the nursery, give your dog praise and a treat. And if you plan on allowing your dog in the nursery, practice being gentle and calm while in there. Let her know that this is not a place for playing or getting excited.
5. Break out the baby gear. Does your pooch often ride in the car with you? Get him used to sharing the backseat with the baby’s car seat before there’s a real baby in it. Think you’ll be taking the dog and baby out for walks together? Take that new stroller for a spin. Yeah, you’ll look funny walking an empty stroller and walking a dog, but it’s worth it. Some dogs are fearful of the stroller’s wheels, others are indifferent. Better to find out now and help your pup adjust, while you still have time to focus on just one thing.
6. Learn from expert resources. Scroll around expert websites, such as the ASPCA, for detailed advice on training tips and prepping your dog for a new baby. It may also be worth the time and investment to hire a dog trainer in your area to make a house call. This will give you the chance to learn how to manage your dog in his home environment, and with the real situations that you have to deal with, on a daily basis.
Do you have any dog-training suggestions for new moms? Tweet us your best tips @BritandCo!