Preparing your dog for a new baby in the house
Having a new baby in the house can be a real shock to our dogs, the best way to avoid problems is to prepare our dog as best we can followed by control and management in the early days whilst everyone gets used to the new addition.
Get your dog used to all things baby! Don’t wait for your baby to arrive before you start setting up their new things. Gradually set up equipment such as baby gyms, highchairs, playpens, mobiles that move and make unusual noises, prams and toys over the months before your baby’s birth. This allows your dog plenty of time to become used to them. Make sure your dog is always allowed to approach and smell these things as they wish. Let them investigate at their own pace and build a positive association by giving them treats, chews, a game or a fuss whenever you introduce something. Once your dog has seen and gotten used to them they won’t be a novelty when the time comes.
Babies cry, a lot! Get your dog (and yourself!) used to the noise by playing soundbites around the house.
Scent is a massive part of our dogs world and their understanding of ours. Ask any friends with babies if they can lend you some worn and unwashed baby clothes to start getting your dog used to the new scents that will come into the house.
Routine goes out the window with a newborn in the house so get your dog used to walking and eating at varied times of days. Also, get them used to rest days and reduced exercise levels so their expectations are lower. Get your dog used to friends and family members so when they offer to help when you have a newborn you can send them off to walk your dog. Your dog gets some mini adventures with new friends!
Think about how having a baby will affect your dogs sleep and travel locations and start prepping them by making those changes now.
Babies mean lots of visitors to the house too, so if your dog is worried or over excited by visitors start working on some desensitisation and also settle down spots away from all the action, maybe put up a baby gate, place a bed or a crate in a quitter part of the house.
Think about lifeskills your dog will need when baby arrives:
- Loose lead walking – you don’t want to be pulled when pushing a pram.
- Recall – you won’t be able to chase your dog across the park!
Introduce a settle mat and teach your dog that they get rewarded for laying down on the mat. You can then send your dog there when you need space. Stock up on kongs and long lasting natural treats.
Waiting whilst you walk through doors, you cannot have your dog charging through doors as you open them when you have your hands full of baby!
Control and Management
Set up baby gates and pens so you can have baby and dog in the same room but without access to each other. They get their own space and you can relax a little. It’s important to always be actively engaged when supervising and never leave dogs and babies alone. This means always being interactive with your baby when they’re in the same space as your dog, making sure you can give them your undivided attention without being distracted. For example, you could give your dog a long-lasting treat and leave them completely alone in their bed to enjoy it while you are spending time with your baby in the same room. This way your dog has something fun to do all by themselves, which means you can spend some time having fun with your baby without having to worry about them!