Preparing Your Dog for Your New Baby
Preparing your dog for baby's arrival is a great way to make the transition smoother for everyone. Below are some simple guidelines to help you take the proper precautions when you have a new addition to your family!
- Know your dog's temperament. If your dog has ever snapped at anyone, or if they have jealousy issues, you should probably consult a professional animal behaviorist for advice.
- Make sure your dog knows the basics- sit, stay, no, lay down. These commands will allow you to be in control of your dog when your child is in the room. If they do not know these commands, you may consider a behavior class before it is time to bring baby home.
- If your dog has never been around children, you may want to expose them to children before your baby comes. Invite some friends with children over. Most families with children and dogs at home will understand the importance of this step and will be happy to come over. Make sure it is a controlled environment and watch carefully for any aggressive reactions in your dog.
- Adjust your dogs schedule before the baby comes home. Establish a routine that you can stick to. Dogs, like people, like to know what's coming next. Also, if there are any rooms that are going to be off limits, establish these boundaries at least a month before your due date.
- Role-play. Carry a doll around in a blanket to get your dog used to this and to curb any jumping problems that may exist. This is also an opportunity to practice sit/stay commands with your dog while you role play various parent/baby activities (i.e. on the changing table)
- Introduce your dog to your baby's scent as soon as possible. If possible, have someone bring home an unwashed piece of your child's clothing before you come home from the hospital for your dog to smell.
- Have a neutral person — grandpa or a neighbor — actually carry the new baby into the house to leave Mom and Dad free to greet the family dog. Remember Mom has been away for a few days and the dog will be happy and excited to see her. Once the excitement dies down, let your dog get acquainted with the baby. Sit in a comfortable chair and let your dog sniff the baby. Most people don't want their dog to lick the baby, but this is a dog's way of getting to know someone. The baby will come in contact with more germs from well-wishers than from your dog, so let your dog have a little taste. Of course, have another person nearby to redirect the dog's behavior, should the licking get a little out of hand. Have a toy handy to distract the dog if the greeting is over-enthusiastic.
- Keep one area of the house baby free. Your dog will really appreciate having a private area to retreat from all the ear and tail pulling.
- Never leave your dog and your child unattended! This is important, no matter how much you trust you dog! If there is an accident, you will not be there to see what happened and you won't be able to prevent it from happening in the future.
Congratulations, you are on your way to having one big happy family!