Are you a dog owner who is expecting a new baby in the near future? If so, you would be wise to start preparing your dog for your new arrival sooner rather than later. A dog’s best asset is his sense of smell so he is going to be curious about all the new smells associated with your baby.
You could start by introducing your dog to your baby’s new room. You will no doubt have it all ready in preparation of baby’s arrival so let him explore the room with you so he becomes comfortable with the new furnishings. If he shows interest in your baby’s toys, you can practise the ‘leave it’ command so that he learns that these toys are off limits to him. Pick up a new, special toy for your dog so he has something of his own.
At some point you will be using a stroller or carriage to take your baby for walks so now would be a good time to practise walking with your dog beside the empty stroller so that he learns not to pull out in front. This might also be a good time to look into a training collar to help you gain more control of your dog.
Once your baby arrives, the majority of your time is going to be spent caring for your bundle of joy. Try to keep as regular a routine as possible with your dog and when you need to focus on your baby, a crate would be a safe place for your dog to spend some quiet time. If you are already using a crate, feel free to use it any time you cannot supervise your dog and, if you have not used a crate before, purchase or borrow one so that your dog learns it is a place for safety and rest and not punishment.
A crate will also come in handy if you and your partner decide to have a weekend away and your dog will stay with friends or family. Having his own crate that he can take with him will help to make him feel secure since his scent will be on anything in the crate like toys or a bed. For more information about crate training check out our January 26th blog, “To Crate or Not to Crate”, which you can find on our website.
You may also find it helpful to hire a dog walker to walk your dog a few times a week so that he gets some exercise and can retain his social skills. Arrange play dates for your dog with family and friends who also have dogs.
When you can, take your dog for walks and pay special attention to him. It will be a good opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with your dog and practise his obedience commands as well. It may be difficult for him to understand why he is currently not your main focus so scheduling walks and play time with him will help him feel that he is still an important part of your family.
Remember, in most cases, a dog becomes part of a family before children come along and it’s important not to forget that they have needs too.
Are you or anyone you know expecting a baby soon? Share your thoughts with us