Planning for the arrival of a new baby is an exciting time when new parents are in a whirlwind of preparations – from painting the nursery to reading up about what to expect. In this frenzy, our family dog sometimes gets shuffled to the last on the list, which can result in negative behaviors down the road.
To avoid possible problems with pet-baby intros, it is important to include ways to help your dog adjust to your new baby in your list of to-dos.
Before the Baby Arrives
If your canine has been the center of your world, or the only – well, child, up until now – he or she may need some extra time to adjust. Of course, this also depends on your dog’s temperament. If your dog typically struggles with any new changes and responds by barking, chewing, or other destructive behaviors, you may want to invest in training and socialization classes. As a rule, when it comes to any major change to schedule, home, or new family members, it is a good idea to make a plan.
So what should be considered on your new baby-pet plan?
If your pet isn’t trained to respond to basic commands, now is the time to sign your dog up for obedience training.Use the quiet time before baby’s arrival to get your pet in for his or her annual examination – making sure those vaccinations and parasite preventives are current!If you anticipate significant changes in your dog’s daily routine, such as another family member taking over dog walking duties or a change in sleeping arrangements, start to introduce these changes now to give your dog time to get used to those changes.If your pet is mostly attached to the soon-to-be mama, try and increase the affection, attention, and interaction of other family members to decrease dependence and subsequent anxiety or resource-guarding issues.Keep in mind: spayed/neutered pets are generally calmer.If there are going to be pet-free zones in the home, consider installing pet gates or other barriers so your dog has time to adjust and not associate the arrival of the newborn with being “kept out”.
After the Baby Arrives: Tips to Help Your Dog Adjust
Now that you have a perfectly prepared pup, it’s time to make those first important meetings go smoothly. Here are a few suggestions to make the transition easier for all.
Start slowly by introducing baby smells – such as an article of clothing or a blanket.Let your pet investigate the nursery when another family member is elsewhere with the baby.
Rotate feeding, walking, and playtime shifts with your dog – it’s important to include yourself in your dog’s activities, even though it may be more challenging to find the time. It is especially important if you were your dog’s primary companion.
When your dog has acclimated to some of the new scents, sights, and sounds, have him or her sit calmly on the floor beside you as you introduce the baby.If your dog becomes excitable or begins to jump, simply get up with the baby and ask a family member to redirect your dog to another activity. Avoid yelling or scolding your dog, as this could encourage guarding and stress, resulting in negative behaviors.
Reward your dog with lots of new toys and interesting games – after all, he will likely be fearful of being “left out”. Of course, it is also advised to not go overboard with attention, as this could also be perceived as a cue to display those negative behaviors you want to avoid.
Keep in mind, it may take a bit of time for your dog to adjust to the new baby. And, realistically, the new baby can take up a lot of your time! To help create a safe, positive environment for all members of the family – including the fur babies – anticipate this period of adjustment and practice these suggestions.
Most dogs warm up to young members of the family and view them as a part of the “pack”. You’ll be amazed at the incredible bond your dog will form with the new little one. And, your little one will come to cherish the love and affection of the family dog.
If you have any questions about how to safely introduce your pet to the newborn, please feel free to call us.