Preparing Your Dog for the Arrival of Your Baby
Guest Writer Bio: Brenda Leary
Welcoming a new baby to the family is exhilarating and overwhelming in one stride. Just as shopping for baby clothes is important throughout pregnancy, prioritize other tasks such as preparing your dog for the arrival of your baby. This article shares insights to simplify learning how to introduce and prepare the dog thus leaving your puppy content when the newborn arrives.
A) Give reassurance
Your dog deserves the attention that you bestow him even after the baby comes. Strive to maintain his routine as much as possible and avoid drastic changes that may put him off. For instance, if you can no longer walk him in the morning due to nursing commitment, find a trainer early enough to allow your dog to get acquainted with the family member.
Watch out for signs of stress such as loss of appetite, barking too much or circling repeatedly. Reassure your puppy that he is still important by carving out time in your busy schedule to do things that matter to him, such as playing catch or jumping hoops in the backyard.
If the animal feels secure that he is still a valued member of the family, he will not see the newborn as a threat but rather a potential new friend.
B) Desensitize your pet
As experienced dog owners will attest, young children will often mishandle the family pet, and this may trigger vengeful behavior particularly in high-strung puppies. Innocent gestures such as pinching, tugging at his ears or just poking, are likely to be misinterpreted, and the puppy may retaliate, thus harming the child.
Since you cannot predict what the younger ones will do, prepare your dog by handling him in the manner that a child would. For instance, touching the underside of his body or pulling his tail.
Observe his reaction as you do this and if he puts up a fight, offer him a treat like a dog biscuit. Rewarding him when performing these annoying gestures will change his perception, and he will start associating these acts with happiness. Do this repeatedly over a span of weeks ahead of the baby’s arrival. Once the puppy learns to accept the rough handling, there is less likelihood of fighting back when the baby does it to him.
C) Introduce baby scent
Knowing the baby smell is part of learning how to introduce and prepare the dog for your child’s arrival. Once the baby is born, take one of the blankets or shawls and bring them home to the dog so they can learn the scent of the baby. Ensure that your hands and clothing have the baby scent so that your dog can sniff around and become familiar with this smell. If the dog is calm, you can leave the piece of clothing in his kennel to allow extra time for sniffing. Do this a few times until the baby comes home. This way, the dog will have met the child even before he sees him physically.
D) Initial meeting
First impressions are vital to future interactions with the child. When preparing your dog for the arrival of your baby, make sure that the initial meeting is a positive experience so that your dog is impressed with the idea of having a new family member. Keep in mind that the dog’s behavior is unpredictable even with thorough training. Let everyone else get into the house first and greet the dog in the same manner they did in the past.
The dog will dispel most of the excitement on other family members and is, therefore, likely to be calm when he sees you. Ensure that the dog is on a leash before walking in with the newborn. Observe his mannerisms and determine whether he is ready to meet the baby or not. The two do not have to meet right away; you can postpone to a later time but ensure it happens soon so that your dog can establish a connection at the onset.
E) Supervise interactions
Research shows that some dogs do not recognize infants as humans and therefore may lack their usual inhibitions during interactions with babies. Even the most trustworthy puppies have an inherent ability to bite. Supervise every interaction even when you leave your child alone to sleep in his crib. Using a baby monitor is helpful, but you may be distracted with routine chores like folding laundry or cooking dinner.
Do not to let in that you are uncomfortable leaving your dog alone with the baby. Discreetly put measures to deter this when you are busy, e.g. locking the nursery door or put a trap door on the child’s play area. If the animal scratches the door or barks outside the nursery, distract him with routine activities like feeding in the crate or let him play with his favorite toys.
Planning ahead is crucial to preparing your dog for the arrival of your baby. If you opt to hire a trainer to help you, try to be present for most activities for learning purposes. Ask your spouse and kids to help so your pet does not feel alone.
Guest Writer : Brenda Leary
A QUESTION FOR YOU: Have you had to introduce your pup to a new baby? How did it go? Is there anything you’d like to add here?
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