Your dog has been your baby’ for a while now, but you have an actual baby on the way. You want your loyal canine companion to welcome the baby as happily as you and your partner will into your life and your home. And for that to happen, you will need to resort to patient and positive preparation that lets your dog know that a little bit of change is in order, but he has nothing to worry about.
Taking just a few steps will ensure that the relationship between your baby and your dog thrives right from the beginning, and it’s only a matter of time before your four-legged companion takes up the role of a loyal protector even for your baby. So, how to prepare your dog for your new baby?
- First things first, take your pet for a complete veterinary examination to ensure that he/she is in good health. A sick dog can be more short tempered and unreasonably aggressive. Also, if you haven’t spayed or neutered your dog yet, now would be a good time to get it done so that your dog becomes calmer and mild-mannered.
- If your dog is used to sleeping with you, especially if he/she cuddles with you in your bed, now is the time to make changes. If you try and reinforce change once the baby is born, the dog might harbor animosity towards the little person who is responsible for it. So prepare in advance; buy a comfortable dog bed or try a dog crate so that your canine friend has a comfortable and safe environment where he/she can retire for the night. Remember, let the change be positive and reward generously as the dog shows improvement. This could take a few weeks, so be patient and stay consistent, rather than giving in to the whimpers every now and then and allow the dog back on your own bed.
- Encourage the dog to build a strong, balanced relationship with all members of the family. Some breeds are inherently a one man’s dog’, and will bond more with one member of the family. But even with such dogs, it’s possible to inculcate equal loyalty and love for all members. This comes especially handy when your new baby demands more time and attention, but the dog is equally comfortable eating, walking and sleeping with all human members of the family and doesn’t feel abandoned’ if his favorite person is otherwise occupied with the baby.
- Invite friends and family over, especially those who have babies. This helps your dog socialize with children of all ages, and get more used to them. It also makes the dog more accustomed to baby-related noises, odors and activities.
- If your dog has any behavioral issues – be it chewing, aggression, jumping, nipping or excessive barking, you might need to hire a professional dog trainer and work on these issues.
Once your baby is born and you bring it home, make sure that you gradually introduce the baby to the dog. Adult supervision is a must when the baby and the dog are in close proximity. Respect your dog’s boundaries, and do not force him/her to get closer to the baby than what he or she is comfortable with. Give it time, after several interactions with one another both of them will warm up to each other. It helps to keep the dog’s routine as normal and consistent as possible – feed, walk and play like you did before. Changes in routine are stressful for dogs, and should be avoided so that the dog associates the baby with only positive things.
About the author: Andrea is professional photographer and a great dog lover. She has two beautiful dogs called Rex and Spike. Besides being a dog lover, also takes care of her fish by supplying them the best possible premium fish feed pellets.