BY: Laurie Brzostowski
A new addition to the family is an exciting event, but sometimes dogs don’t exactly understand what is going on which can cause stress and anxiety. Here are 3 tips for preparing your dog for baby’s arrival:
1. Enforce new rules and boundaries
Decide on the new rules and boundaries that your dog will need to adhere to with the baby around. It is a good idea to get started on a new schedule several weeks before the baby is due. The new schedule for your dog will likely involve varied feeding times, quiet time in their crate, an unpredictable exercise routine, and a higher enforcement of obedience.
Obedience training should be revisited with an extra focus on commands such as “drop”, “corner” or “bed”, “stay”, and “quiet”. Your dog should be comfortable responding to verbal cues as your ability to give visual cues or hand signals may be diminished when you are holding your baby.
2. Introduce them to baby’s household objects
Set up the baby’s room early to give your dog sufficient time to adjust to the new objects. Introduce your dog to baby equipment gradually with lots of praise and treats as positive reinforcement. Baby gates should also be installed if you plan to use them and the car seat placed in the car. Aim to have everything set up so prominent furniture is not a sudden addition once the baby arrives.
Introduce your dog to baby products such as lotion, powder, and diapers. Let them sniff these products in their own time so they can become familiarised with the new smells.
3. Allow them to interact with other babies
If your dog has never been around other babies or small children, it is a good idea to introduce them. Friends with babies should be encouraged to visit so that your dog can see you holding their baby. Another useful tactic is playing a CD with baby noises for your dog. It should be played at a quiet level to begin with, which can be gradually increased once your dog becomes comfortable with the noises.
Your dog should also be introduced to the idea that they will receive less attention when there are babies around. Discourage your dog from attention seeking behaviour so that your dog doesn’t associate less attention with your new baby. Do not let your dog directly interact with a baby, and never leave them unattended.