It is perfectly normal for expecting parents to feel a variety of emotions, including excitement and perhaps even nervous anticipation. If you are also a dog owner, preparing for a new baby in your home means figuring out exactly how your life and schedule will change, and how this will affect your furry companion. However, introducing a new baby into your household does not mean that you have to say goodbye to your family pet. By following some simple tips, you can successfully “baby-proof” your dog and experience a smooth transition with your newest family member.
Baby-Proofing Your Dog
Getting your dog ready for a new baby is all about early and thorough preparation. Following are some key points to cover:
- Educate yourself. When children grow up with dogs they can form deep, meaningful bonds with their canine friend that help strengthen their emotional stability. However, the initial adjustment period when a baby is first brought into the home can be challenging and sometimes even stressful. It is helpful to understand the entire process and what steps you can take from the beginning to help smooth the process.
- Practice dog obedience training. Ideally, your canine friend has already participated in basic obedience training and you can simply take the time to help them polish their skills, but if they’ve never had any training, now is the time. Minimally, you want your dog to be able to sit, stay and move to a specific spot on cue. You want to make sure your dog will not be constantly underfoot, and can follow your directions easily and rapidly.
- Purchase the right supplies. A fixed length lead that is four to six feet long can be very useful if you ever need to tether your dog in the home. Baby gates can also be very useful in ensuring your dog remains out of certain areas in the home, and should be installed and used even before your baby arrives home. You will also want to find and purchase a variety of activity toys–like ones that can be stuffed with treats or food–that can keep your dog busy whenever necessary.
- Begin stroller training. Some dogs are frightened by the size and sound of strollers, and can become spooked if forced to walk next to one. Before your baby arrives, bring the stroller out into the house, let him smell it, and move it slowly near him. When he approaches the stroller, give him a treat reward, and when he seems accustomed to it, take him for a walk outside with the stroller.
- Institute a baby schedule. While there is no way to exactly predict what your baby’s schedule will be, you can try to imitate what it may be like so that your dog can adjust to the randomity that comes with having a new baby in the household. This may mean moving your dog’s feeding and walking times around a little bit, so that they become comfortable with a different schedule and not stressed out by any “delays”. Also, you may need adjust how you shower your dog with attention and affection so that they don’t feel like the center of the world one day, and completely forgotten the next.
- Praise good behavior around the baby. No matter how well you think you know your dog, the fact is that there is just no way to predict exactly how he will do around your new baby. Always supervise their interaction, and praise your dog’s good behavior when it occurs.
A new family member can always be a big transition in any household, especially one that is shared by a dog. By preparing for this transition, it can be a very enjoyable event for everyone involved.