It is always essential to get your dog ready for a new family member, especially a newborn baby. The earlier you put your dog in paces for the coming of a newborn baby, the better.
This means that one has to put in a lot of time in training the dog and making him get used to the situation that awaits him in the house. This includes the dog getting used to baby sounds in the home and less attention to him.
The more you put in much time in preparing it and conditioning him, the quicker the dog will adjust to all the changes that await it.
This process of transition also calls for you to be more supportive of the dog as it will mainly depend on you to guide him through the entire change.
The arrival of the newborn should not appear very stressful for both your family and your pet dog. There should be a lot of ease in the transition period.
Thus, there are things that you need to do to ensure that your dog is ready before the newborn baby comes into the family as an additional member.
How to Prepare a Dog for Baby
1) Notify Visitors about your Dog during the Period
Let every one that will come into your house as a helper; whether as a midwife or a housemaid during the period that the newborn is expected to know that you have a dog. They should also get to see that you are preparing the dog for the arrival of the newborn.
This will ensure that they create a conducive environment for the dog to adjust to the new changes that are to take place in the house.
All those people should also have a good understanding of the preparation tips for the dog for a newborn baby. This helps them know how to handle the situation with or without you around.
2) Time Management
Time is a great factor in the entire activity of preparing your dog for the changes. When preparing, you need to have perfect timing of events. You should not just wake up on the day that the newborn is brought to the house and start putting the changes in place immediately.
Also, you need not wait until the last weeks awaiting the arrival of the newborn too. You have to be proactive. It is thus vital that the transition period is with minimal radical changes as possible. The dog’s routine should not be affected in a significant way.
3) Report the Dog Behavioral Issues of Concern in Advance
Any behavioral issues that the dog possesses, such as; unwanted hostility towards new people, uneasiness in separating it or any other behavior that portrays fear. For this reason, you should inquire from your vet so that he refers you to a great animal behaviorist located near your place of residence.
The animal behaviorist will help you sort the behavioral issues that the dog has in a good time. That will make it be able to live cohesively with others in the same house.
It won’t be barking awkwardly at every new face in the house, and it will be able also to accommodate the new family member; the baby. It won’t be uncomfortable at sight or the sense of the scent of the baby.
4) Facilitate the Dog’s Training
The dog, all the same, should have a basic understanding of what good behavior entails in the months preceding the birth of the child. This will make it very easy when making it ready to accommodate the newborn in the house.
An unruly dog can be tough to tolerate thus very hard to allow it near not only a baby but also new visitors to your home. For this reason, you should ensure you put it on top-notch training to brush up on its areas of weakness.
The training should ensure that you hone the dog’s skills in responding to commands, for example; can come when called, won’t jump and can walk on the lead without pulling.
The training should also enable the dog to be used to some good habits such as he can sit, can remain calm and quiet on short periods and can lie down. This will enable it to create a conducive atmosphere for the newborn.
5) Get the Dog used to you being Busy
When you have a dog as your only pet, it is most likely that you have always been giving it your full attention. There is nothing else competing for your attention in such situations.
The dog is still getting your attention whenever he needs you, but with the coming of a newborn baby, it is most likely that you will have divided attention.
For this reason, in the period before the arrival of the infant, you have to get him used to be alone in a safe area with his bed and tasty chew item for short periods every day.
You will be very busy with the baby that you won’t get time to be with the dog every minute; thus, it has to get used to this. When the baby finally arrives, the dog will be fully used to the situation if you prepare it on this in advance.
The most important point to be aware of when keeping your dog alone is separation anxiety which I have covered in How to Break a Dog’s Separation Anxiety When You Leave
6) Limit Access to some Rooms
When the baby arrives, it is quite understandable that some of the rooms in the house must be made inaccessible for the dog. Limits will have to be placed on places the dog should go and where it should not go to. For this reason, you should make the dog used to the situation before the newborn’s arrival.
You should start doing it instantly when the baby is months away from coming. By the time the baby arrives, it will not be a new thing to the dog. He will take it as a normal thing. Ideally, the dog should never be allowed anywhere near the baby’s room.
7) Health Maintenance of Dog
The dog’s health condition is also a very crucial matter. As the owner, you should always ensure that the dog is free from any infection. You are guaranteeing this way before the newborn’s arrival is very important.
Always ensure that he is up to date with vaccinations and worming tablets. Through this, it will stay infection-free and will cause no harm to the surroundings which would soon host the newborn baby.
8) Change Roles of Dog’s Caregiver
If it is the expectant mother who has been the one doing most of the interactions with the dog in the past, it should start changing early. The man should now begin taking up that role. It will help ease the pressure on the woman who should now solely focus on the baby.
The husband should take up the roles formerly performed by his wife, roles such as; dog walking and feeding. The earlier you get it done, the better. This will help the dog adjust way before the expectant mother gives birth to the baby.
By the partner taking up these duties, the dog will get used to him completely by the time the baby arrives so the woman will have no big issue in balancing her time between the two.
9) Get the Dog used to Baby Sounds
When the baby arrives, it is normal that it comes with lots of crying at its earlier stages, the crying sound to a dog which has never heard it will be extraordinary.
Therefore the dog should be tuned to get used to the ‘strange crying sounds’ before the baby comes home.
This can be achieved by an audio recording of baby sounds and playing these sounds at places where the baby is going to be most often when it arrives. It won’t take it very long before it gets used to the sounds. When the baby eventually comes, it will find the dog used to those sounds that it usually makes.
Here are some baby sounds from YouTube
10) Train Dog on Gentle Movement
The dog should be taught in advance how to walk gently next to the pram; while teaching him this ensures that it walks without pulling the pram. By this, the dog’s movement will rarely cause any distraction to the baby’s peaceful existence.
The dog’s movement, when not trained, can be very messy and will cause a lot of nuisance in the background. This is usually very intolerable in a place where there is a newborn in the surrounding.
11) Get Dog Familiar with the Baby’s Playing Space
In case you are ready to create a playing space for the baby, bring in the furniture items such as high chairs, playpens, and carrycots into the house before the newborn baby’s arrival. The dog should start getting used to them in advance.
The familiarity of the new furniture to the dog will be of very great importance so he will have to get used to the changes step by step. When the baby comes in and starts being a constant occupant of the area, the dog would not get hostile towards it.
12) Help Distinguish between Baby and Dog Toys
You should also start teaching the dog in advance the difference between his toys and the baby’s toys. This will help ease the ‘tension’ that might come in place when the child starts playing with toys. He will know specifically which toys are designated to him with ease.
Dog Behavior When the Baby has finally Arrived
1) Ensure Normalcy
When the baby arrives, avoid making it a huge deal. Ensure everything remains the same as you have already prepared the dog in advance and he has got used to the changes.
Therefore you are advised to make changes no more. You are only recommended in this stage to teach your dog how to approach the newborn baby calmly and adequately. Give the dog the freedom to make safe initial approaches and investigations of the baby.
2) Familiarize the Dog Psychologically about the Newborn
You should create a psychological environment for the dog to see the baby as a beautiful thing to be around. This can be achieved by always giving the dog rewards and praises whenever he behaves well around the baby.
If possible, engage the dog as much as possible in family activities which the newborn baby will also be part of. This will at least make the dog more familiar to the new member of the family. This can be done by organizing short family walks that involve all of you.
When the baby is at home, you should always be on the watch out. Never leave the baby alone with the dog or alone in a surrounding where there is a dog. You never know what a dog might be up to when you are not on the watch out.
3) Ensure the Dog Exercises Regularly
Also, you are always advised to make sure the dog gets regular exercise; this will ensure that it at least engages in activities that make it busy and thus the activities take much of their energy.
A dog that is bored and has a lot of energy can get up to all sorts of mischief that you can never think of when you’re busy with your newborn baby. Ensure you have a way of making it much active.
4) Regular Behavioral Checkup
In case you notice any form of change in your dog’s behavior when the baby arrives, try to consult with a specialist as soon as possible to at least curb the change in behavior. The behaviorist will help you curb that change before it gets worse.
The coming of a newborn baby to the family should cause fewer disruptions to the typical day to day life of your dog. You should prepare it thoroughly for the new change and when the baby arrives, to make the environment still as friendly as possible for your dog. It has to always feel at home as you also ensure your baby grows up in a very conducive environment for it.