New parents, especially those with their first baby, often struggle with introducing their dog to their new bundle of joy. People and dogs can be nervous and anxious, leading to tense interactions. Follow these steps if you’re expecting a non-furry family addition to help your dog accept the new situation.
1. Stick with a routine. Dogs thrive on consistency, but a new baby upsets the household routine. Sticking to the standard pattern for walks, playtimes, and mealtimes is important.
2. Play a “baby noises” soundtrack. Babies squeal and shriek, and these odd noises can unsettle an anxious pet. Dogs with a high prey drive, such as herding or hunting breeds, may react negatively to a baby’s high-pitched squeals, so give your pet a squeaky toy to teach her the difference between a rubber object and a squalling baby. Play soundtracks of baby coos, squeals, and shrieks to accustom your dog to the noises, and be sure to reward her for staying calm when hearing these noises.
3. Set up the baby’s room slowly. Does your dog become frenzied with excitement if you pack for a weekend trip or rearrange furniture? Out-of-the-ordinary situations can trigger stressed behavior from even the most relaxed pets. Change the room that will be the nursery by moving in new items slowly and allowing your dog plenty of time to sniff and explore. As always, be sure to reward her relaxed behavior.
4. Brush up on obedience skills. Do you say “sit” many times before your dog actually sits? Clear communication is crucial to prevent mishaps between pets and children. Useful skills include sitting, staying, lying down, and coming when called, as well as “leave it” and “drop it” commands. If you think your dog could use a refresher training course, sign up for group classes or one-on-one sessions with one of the awesome trainers at Wag It Better dog training.
5. Nip problem behaviors in the bud. Is your dog an overly excited jumper? Teach unacceptable behaviors by praising your dog and giving her attention only when she sits or stands. She will quickly learn she gets no attention when she’s jumping around. If your dog is possessive of toys, learn what triggers her less-than-desirable behaviors. Put your dog’s toys and chews away when your child is playing, since a child can accidentally trigger a dog into snapping over a toy or treat.
5. Stock up on doggy necessities. As new parents, you will be run ragged caring for someone who depends totally on you. Be sure you have your pet’s supplies on hand, including food, treats, toys, heartworm and flea prevention, and medications, before your baby is born. Consider automatic shipments to avoid having to go to a pet store.
7. Plan for the big day. Who will care for your dog while you are at the hospital? Find a reliable dog-sitter who can take over at a moment’s notice, and have available your pet’s information, such as feeding instructions, walking routines, and medication requirements, and our hospital phone number in case of emergency.
8. Supervise two- and four-legged children at all times. Although we consider pets beloved family members, always remember they are animals and do not think like humans. Children make unpredictable sounds and movements and can startle a dog, who may react negatively. Babies and toddlers may hurt your dog by grabbing her ears or tail, or by falling on her when she is sleeping. Learn to read your dog’s body language as well. Signs of anxiety include panting, wide eyes, a furrowed brow, or freezing. If you notice any signs of nervous behavior, immediately remove your dog or child to avoid conflict. Pets and children must always be supervised when together.
Need help preparing your dog for your new baby? Give us a call—we’d love to help set your pet up for success in welcoming your new bundle of joy.