For expecting parents, nine months seems to go by in a flash. Preparing for a baby takes a lot of time and organization, and no matter how many baby books you've read, toys you've assembled or boxes of diapers you've bought, you never feel quite ready. One thing a lot of parents forget while they're busy prepping themselves and their homes is that they need to prepare their four-legged family members for the new arrival too. In fact, a new addition to the family can be just as stressful to your dog as it is to you. However, if you start preparing your pup before the baby arrives, it'll be a much easier experience when it's time to bring your newborn home.
One of the biggest changes to come with having a newborn in the house is everyone's schedule. Typical sleeping, eating and workout schedules tend to go out the window for the first few weeks after bringing baby home. If your dog is used to having an exact schedule for its meals, walks, and playtimes, start varying it up in the months leading up to your due date. It'll be less stressful on your dog (and you) when your pup isn't waiting at the door for a morning walk after you've been up all night with a crying newborn.
Also, consider finding and taking your pup to a doggie daycare a few times before your baby arrives. That way if you're feeling overwhelmed at all while caring for your baby and dog, you can feel confident in dropping off your pup to play. Since your dog has already been to daycare, it won't be a new and stressful experience for him or you.
- Wash your hair with baby shampoo and rub a bit of baby lotion on yourself before your due date so your dog can become familiar with the scent.
- Play a recording of realistic baby noises for a few minutes a day to get your dog used to the sounds your real baby will be making in advance.
- Hold a baby doll when teaching your dog new commands. Your dog can learn not to jump when the baby is in your arms or to only lick the baby's feet.
Start Training Now
You're likely going to have new rules in the house after the baby arrives. If you're planning on keeping your dog off the furniture or completely out of the nursery, start with your training as soon as possible. Remember, an old dog can learn new tricks if you have enough patience and persistence. If your dog's a notorious puppy school drop-out, don't worry we have tips on how to deal.
Introduce The Baby In The Right Way
When it's finally time to bring home baby, there's a right and a wrong way to introduce your newborn to your dog. Most dogs are going to be extremely excited to welcome you home, so let your pup expel some energy by greeting and running around everyone before you show them the new addition. It's typically best to have your dog on a leash just in case, even if you're not worried your pet will react poorly.
It's also extremely important that you maintain a calm and relaxed attitude during the introduction. If the dog picks up that you're feeling nervous, they may become nervous as well. Have a ton of treats on hand to praise your dog when it shows good behavior around the baby. Avoid yelling or scolding the dog near the baby, because you don't want the dog to associate your newborn with the fear of being reprimanded.
Growing Up With A Pup
As your baby grows, you can teach your dog to love them by associating positive things with them. If you give treats, pet and play with the dog when the baby is around, and then make one-on-one time with the dog more relaxed and boring, your dog will learn to be excited and happy when the baby is near.
The relationship between a dog and a child can be a thing of beauty when it starts off on the right foot. When all goes well, together they can make a lifetime's worth of happy memories.