It is not uncommon for dogs and babies to grow up to be best friends. This article will show you how to introduce them and prepare your dog for your newborn’s arrival. These are useful methods to prepare your dog for the changes that are about to happen in the household. Changes that are going to give you and your dog anxiety if not addressed ahead of time.
Your pet must be accustomed to sounds, smells, and new routines so when your newborn arrives, it won’t come as a total surprise.
- You must prepare your dog long before your newborn’s arrival. Begin by assessing your dog’s temperament. Does he have predatory tendencies towards small animals? How does your pet react towards children or strangers? To be on the safe side, consult a professional dog behaviourist.
- Desensitize your pet to the sound of a newborn crying. There are gadgets that play crying baby sounds that you can purchase from Amazon or Walmart but if you already have Google Home or Alexa, you can “ask” it to play sounds of a baby crying or you can simply go to Youtube to find a few videos and play it on your computer or smartphone. Play it often and at different times of the day and even early morning.
- Walk your dog on your usual route with a doll in a baby stroller. You can even play a recording of a newborn crying on your phone and put it in the stroller. Alternatively, you can buy a baby replica that cries and even moves called Interactive Baby from Walmart and put it in the stroller.
- Apply some lotion, baby powder and shampoo on a baby doll and wrap it in a blanket then walk around the house like you normally would. Allow the dog to observe you. If the baby has been born, bring home the blanket and let your dog sniff it to get him accustomed to the smell of the new member of the family.
- If your dog hasn’t learned basic commands like sit and stay, now would be a good time to teach them. Even better if they take a basic obedience class.
- If you know anyone with toddlers, ask them if they could come over to your house to acclimatize your dog to small children. Remember to reward your pet generously for remaining well behaved. You can also go to parks to socialize your dog and make them familiar with activities involving children. Observe carefully how your pet reacts towards children.
If your dog shows aggression, do not take this lightly. You have to fix this issue before your newborn arrives. Speak to a qualified dog trainer or behaviorist.
- If you decide to keep your pet out of the nursery, do this several months before your newborn arrives so your dog does not associate this with the baby.
- A couple of weeks before your newborn arrives, gradually reduce the attention you give your dog. Tending to your newborn will definitely take time away from your dog and you don’t want your dog to associate this to your baby. They can feel jealous if the attention they normally get is diverted to the baby and we want to minimize this as much as possible. It is important to note that you should make a conscious effort to share your attention with your dog whenever the newborn is around to prevent sibling rivalry. Really.
Your Newborn Arrives Home
Make it uneventful as much as possible. If your dog is calm, have another adult strap a leash on your pet and allow him to gently approach your newborn while being held up high and sniff the feet. Do not allow to lick. Your dog will have to sniff your newborn to find out what it is that you brought home. If your dog misbehaves, correct this immediately. Continue to do this for a few days and observe his behavior. If your dog begins to show aggressive behavior towards the newborn or to family members, this requires immediate attention. Speak to a qualified dog behaviorist. Allow frequent, supervised visits by your dog. The more often the dog and baby are together, the less anxious and better behaved the dog will be. That being said, under no circumstance should your newborn be left unattended in a room with any dog.
As The Child Grows
- Children need to be taught that dogs are living creatures that needs to be respected and not teased, hurt or abused.
- Teach your dog the difference between his toys and your baby’s toys. If you catch your dog chewing on your baby’s toys in the act, interrupt the behavior and give your pet one of his toys and praise him lavishly as soon as your dog takes it
- Children should never be allowed to crawl in your dog’s crate. This is your dog’s personal space and should be respected.
- Children should be taught to never take food away from a dog. This might make a dog become protective of its food and might cause it to bite.
- Children should be taught foods to never feed a dog
- Children should know items that are poisonous to dogs
The following are symptoms of anxiety that you should keep in mind
- Read body language to see if your pet is stressed around your newborn.
- Low rumbling and mild trembling – indicates that the newborn’s crying is annoying your pet. This can be avoided or atleast minimized by desensitizing your dog to crying sounds well before your newborn arrives.
- Starts having accidents inside the house. This is the most common symptom of anxiety
- Listen for vocalization. Every pet owner can recognize this. During the time when our own dog, Watson was extremely anxious, his vocalizations were almost human-like.
- Sits with paws in the air like he wants a shake
- It is not uncommon for a dog to become “clingy” to a pregnant owner and follow her around or stay close and show concern. It is because dogs can sense change.
- Displacement behavior – a change in typical behavior. For example, if your dog always follows you to the bathroom but instead stops and stares, yawns or licks himself
- Leaves the room when your dog would usually be belly-up