How to Prepare a Dog for a Baby
There’s no denying that our pets are our furbabies—we love them like our own, and many people consider them a part of their own family. So how can you prepare your dog for the arrival of a new human baby? A baby can bring with it a lot of new sights, smells, sounds, and disruptions to your routine that your dog isn’t used to, and this can be stressful. Let the experts at Germantown Vet help you make this transition as smooth as possible with some helpful things you can do to help prepare your pup before the baby comes.
Tips for Preparing Your Dog for a Baby
Start training now
If you don’t already have good verbal control over your dog, start working on that skill in advance. Some skills that will be helpful (if not vital) when the baby arrives include:
- Greeting people politely when they arrive (a jumping dog can be very dangerous if you’re holding a baby)
- Leave it or drop it
- Sit, stay, or wait in place
- Come when called
Prepare your dog for the baby’s touch
Babies and small children don’t know how to be gentle. A smart thing to do is prepare your dog for the way a baby or child touches: we call this baby-proofing your dog. Mimic what a baby may do by gently grabbing your dog’s fur, ears, or tail, pinching the skin. Each time you do this give your dog a treat and provide a verbal cue such as “what was that?”
Practice a new routine
A baby is going to drastically change your routine, and there’s really no way to prepare for that 100%, but there are a few things you can do to help your dog start to assimilate with a new schedule. For example:
- If your dog is used to being fed at 8 a.m. on the dot and then walked promptly at 8:30 a.m., start changing up his or her routine. Feed and walk your dog a little more sporadically—any time between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. to get your dog used to eating and walking on a varied schedule.
- If you are going to be minimizing any of your dog’s privileges, such as being allowed on furniture or beds, implement these changes well before the baby arrives so that your dog doesn’t associate them with the baby’s arrival.
- Minimize the changes in attention that your dog gets so you don’t drastically drop off attention once the baby arrives.
When the baby comes home
Once the magical day finally comes and you’re able to bring the baby home, have everyone enter the house except whoever is holding the baby. Let your dog get excited to greet every and be loved on. After he or she has had a minute or two to greet everyone, have someone put a leash on the dog. This is really important, even if you don’t think the dog will have a negative reaction to the baby. Whoever is holding the dog should also have a lot of treats on hand to give the dog has he or she inspects the baby for the first time.
It is crucial to stay calm and relaxed when you enter the house. If you seem nervous or worried, your dog may assume that you’re scared of the small bundle you’re holding. Enter the house and greet your dog in a calm and cheerful voice.
We recommend the first meeting of baby and dog occur when you are holding the baby while seated. It’s easier to control your dog’s approach when a helper brings the dog to you on the couch, where he or she can investigate the baby. Highly praise your dog for gentle interactions and provide a lot of treats. If you begin to feel like it’s too much, simply ask your dog to sit or lie down, and follow up with numerous treats.
Continue to associate your baby with good things for your dog by doing the following:
- Rewarding your dog when he or she interacts with the baby in a gentle way.
- Playing with, rubbing, and giving attention to your dog when the baby is present.
- Take your baby with you when you walk the dog.
- Feed the dog and the baby at the same time, when it’s convenient and/or possible.
- Try to pay less attention to your dog when the baby isn’t around. This will make your dog eagerly anticipate the next time the baby is awake and active.
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Do You Need Help Acclimating Your Dog to Your Baby?
If you want help preparing your dog for your baby or if you’re worried about your dog’s response after the baby has arrived, give the experts at Germantown Vet a call. We’re happy to help you with any questions you have about the happiness and wellbeing of your dog.
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