Is the stork dropping a baby bundle on your doorstep? Read how to prepare your family dog for the arrival. By making a plan and summoning your patience, your baby and family pooch will be best buddies in no time. The secret comes down to making the adjustments for your dog in stages.
When you learn you are expecting:
- Enroll your dog in an obedience class right away. Fido can then learn how to adjust to unexpected behaviors (like a baby throwing toys at him) or strange noises like a baby crying.
- If your dog has any problem behaviors or aggression, tackle those problems now. Enlist the help of dog training services if needed.
- Take advantage of parks where there are young families. Take your dog there to expose him to children.
- Get your furry pal used to gates or a crate. This is especially good for dogs with separation issues. You won’t always be able to keep a watchful eye on both dog and baby at the same time.
- Teach your dog to lay down on a bed or comfy blanket on command. When you go to feed your infant this will come in handy.
A couple of months before your baby arrives:
- Prepare your dog for the equipment his new human friend will have. Walk around the house and introduce him to the bassinet, baby swing, baby bath seat, and stroller.
- Get him used to the new smells of baby formula and food, baby shampoo etc.
- Limit lap time for Fido. Chances are his lap time will decrease once the baby arrives.
- Walk your dog with a stroller so he can get used to walking with a baby.
Several weeks before the baby is due:
- Make sure your dog is well groomed with short nails. This will keep from having the baby scratched.
- If your dog is due for a vet appointment soon, go ahead and schedule the appointment. You won’t have as much time once the baby comes home.
When Baby comes home:
- Your dog will be excited to see you and confused about the new human when you come home from the hospital. Think about having a trusted adult there to entertain and hold the dog while the baby settles in.
- Exercise your pooch before you arrive home. He will be less rambunctious.
- Both parents should greet and give the dog attention.
- Carry the baby in with an infant car seat. Then place it on a secure surface within arm’s reach. This will help protect it from the excited pooch.
- Introduce your dog to the baby while it is in a car seat. Walk by several times with Fido on a leash, letting him sniff the infant’s toes, then move away. Reward your dog for moving away.
For the first several weeks:
- Keep healthy treats handy for your dog while you feed the baby. This will reward his good behavior. Sliced carrots and apples are a good choice.
- Give your furry friend lots of exercise. This will make him more relaxed and less apt to cause mischief.
- Spend one-on-one time every day with your pet. This will reinforce the idea that he is still a loved member of the family.
If you follow the plan and ramp up your patience, you’ll have a smooth transition for both baby and pooch.