Getting your Dog Baby Ready.

Posted by Susie DeFord CPDT-KA December - 5 - 2011
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Dogs are part of the family and can be very emotional about the changes in the household. With a little extra thoughtfulness and work on an expectant family’s part the changes can happen a little more smoothly and make for a happier family overall

Here are10 Steps to take to prepare for keeping your pooch happy when baby comes home and in the months ahead.

1-    Make an investment with your Pooch. Brush up on your dog’s obedience training- Hire a trainer or attend class

Dogs are very sensitive to changes in our bodies and in our behaviors. Pregnant Mom’s routines usually change, they smell different, and their stress level can certainly go up. This can cause dogs to become clingy or protective. It’s a good time to brush up on your dog’s overall obedience training and practice commands from any position since you’ll likely be sitting down with baby a lot. If you’ve never done much obedience training, meet with a dog trainer or attend a class to go over the basics. You’ll want your dog under control when baby comes if they aren’t already. If a dog is excited or nervous, it helps them to have commands to perform instead of not knowing what to do and barking or jumping and getting scolded.

2-    Crate or ex pen train your dog

If your dog isn’t already crate, ex pen, or baby gate trained, owners should get them used eating and spending time in their own area in the house.  Set up a nice Dog Area with your dog’s bed, toys, and food and water in a crate, ex pen, or in a room blocked by a baby gate to keep the soon to be toddler on the move out of the dog’s safe space. It’s a healthy practice to give your Dog a safe space to rest, eat, and have some time to themselves when stressed just like people do.

3-    Begin to give dog less attention. Allow him to enjoy food puzzles/ toys in his own space.

Interesting food toys—Kong’s with peanut butter, Busy Buddy Twist and Treat toys with kibble and treats inside, food puzzles, and rawhides can keep Fido happily chewing in their own area for a while. Dogs have to get used to not being the center of attention so they aren’t shocked when this inevitably happens after the baby comes.

4-    Research dog day cares.

your dog is highly social with other pups, its good to look into local doggy daycares where they can have some special playtime and give Mom a break with baby.

5-    Hire a dog walker.

Another alternative is to meet with and hire a dog walker to help out a few times a week and give your dog some special attention and exercise can also help alleviate Mom and dog’s stress.

I always recommend checking websites like Yelp or Google Maps to find daycares and walkers with good reviews or ask other pet owners you know who they like and use.

6-    Get dog used to walking alongside new equipment.

Get your dog used to walking with baby strollers by giving them treats every time they come close to or walk next to the stroller.

7-    Make a labor plan

Have a labor plan for the dog to either stay with a friend, family member or at a daycare, or have dog walker on call to come in to help out.

8-    Slowly introduce your dog to your new bundle.

When baby arrives have your partner bring a baby blanket or piece of clothing with the baby’s smell on it home for the dog to get used to the smell.  It can be tempting for parents to try to keep the dog away from the baby all the time however, when your dog is calm bring them next to you with baby and let them smell the baby while you give the dog treats to help them build a positive association.

9-    Gradually allow dog and baby to spend more time together

There usually aren’t too many issues with the dog and baby (except some dogs being upset that they aren’t the center of attention anymore) until the baby starts crawling, walking, and grabbing at things. Toddlers, and kids move and sound quite different from adults. If a dog hasn’t had much exposure to children and you have friends with kids, introduce them before your child is born and give dogs lots of treats around children. You can also have older children toss or give dogs treats to help build that positive association.

10- Teach your toddler appropriate dog interactions, give your dog space if stressed.

If your dog seems ok with baby or is only moderately uncomfortable and unsure of baby, practice having the toddler and baby close together while giving the dog treats for short periods of time and then let your dog have some space. Over time a dog will build a positive association with the baby when they learn that nothing bad happens when baby is near, in fact they get delicious treats.

A fun game for the dog and the baby when it starts being fed in a high chair is to let them drop a few cheerios etc. on the floor so the dog can eat them. It usually delights both the baby and the dog.

Follow these steps to help for a happy and healthy transition and try to imagine things from your dog’s perspective.  To learn more about helping your growing family along the way, here are  some helpful links for learning about dogs and babies/children:

http://www.dogsandstorks.com/

http://www.livingwithkidsanddogs.com/

More about Susie:

Susie DeFord CPDT is a writer and dog trainer who runs Susie’s Pet Care http://susiespetcare.com/ in Brooklyn, NY. She has published with various magazines and writes the blog Dog Poet Laureate http://dogpoetlaureate.wordpress.com/. She is author of the poetry collection Dogs of Brooklyn forthcoming Winter 2011. More about her writing can be found at http://susiedeford.com/

One Response so far.

  1. Melissa Hickey says:

    Gotcha….