When you’re about to have a baby, you will spend the entire duration of the pregnancy preparing your home and your family for the new arrival. What some people tend to overlook, but what should be a very important aspect to your planning, is preparing the family dog for the new family member.
Dogs can easily deal with change as long as it’s not abrupt, so it’s important that you make sure to prepare your dog for the upcoming addition to the family before you bring the baby home. This will help to ensure a smooth transition between your baby and your dog. The following are five tips to help you introduce dog and baby.
1. Start early.
The earlier you can start preparing your dog for your new baby, the more prepared your dog will be when it comes time to actually bring baby home. Try to make it a habit of getting into training exercises as soon as possible, and continue doing these exercises until baby comes home.
2. Give your dog a private place.
Your dog may not be happy with the loud noises that come with a new baby, so you want to make sure you give your dog a place to retreat from all the chaos. If you can, give your dog a special room in your home or buy them their own personal crate. Then, make sure you adorn the room or the crate with their favorite items, a comfortable bed, water and food to help them feel comfortable. Teach the dog to go to this room when they need a break, and soon your dog will love escaping to their retreat when baby wakes in the middle of the night.
3. Buy a doll.
Go out and buy a doll and start treating the doll as if it’s a real baby. Make sure to look at it and care for it as often as you would a real baby, and make sure that you are always bringing it with you when you leave the house. This will get your dog used to the upcoming changes.
You should also introduce the doll to the dog. Hold the doll in your arms and allow your dog to sniff the doll. You should also place the doll on the floor and allow the dog to sniff it. Make sure to teach your dog to “be nice” and to “be gentle” with the baby. This way, when the real baby is in the house, your dog will already know how to handle himself or herself around it.
4. Prepare your dog for the roughness.
The first few months of the new baby’s life will not impact the way your dog is touched, but as your baby gets older, the pawing and grabbing at the dog will begin. Start introducing your dog to this new roughness by touching them in places they’re not used to, such as between their paws, under their belly and especially on their tail. Use this time to train your dog how to ignore this roughness and to be gentle with the person doing the touches. This will help you avoid any accidents after baby arises.
5. Use a trainer.
If you’re having trouble training your dog or if your dog is not taking well to the training, you may want to enlist the help of a real trainer. The use of a professional trainer can be just the thing your dog needs to learn how to handle themselves around a new baby and to prepare themselves for the upcoming change.
Danielle Nottingham is a vet tech and blogger for DogTrainingCollars.com who often writes about dog training and behavior modification.