For parents-to-be with pets at home, getting your four-legged BFF ready for a new baby can be a stressful process – for both you and the pooch. Here are some tips to help create a safe environment for your little unit.
Before the arrival:
#1 Make gradual changes
Much like young children, dogs depend on predictability – and when the baby comes, they wouldn’t be able to understand why their long walks are getting cut short, why they can’t sleep in your room anymore, or even why they’re no longer the centre of your attention. To avoid having your pet associate these ‘negative’ changes with your newborn, prepare your dog for the transition by introducing gradual changes to their routine months before the baby’s due, to get them used to the new shifts in schedule.
#2 Train them with positive commands
Whether it’s rushing to greet you at the door, or happily bounding over to express their affections, dogs tend to get overexcited easily – which isn’t great when there’s a baby around. To prevent sticky situations, train your pet to recognise ‘going away’ commands such as ‘go there!’ or ‘leave it!’ This will allow you to gain control of unpredictable situations.
#3. Familiarise them with baby smells.
Dogs are creatures of habit; they thrive on routine. Understandably, it’s not everyday that one comes across an unidentified, bald, pink mass. Hence the unease and fear. In order to prevent any mishaps, introduce them to items that your baby is going to use, such as toys, clothes, blankets, lotion, stroller, crib, etc, in advance.
#4 Get them used to loud baby noises
Babies cry. A lot. So your dog will have to be very accustomed to it. Introduce them to the sound of a crying infant regularly – the Internet should have a wide supply of those. Alternatively, you can purchase a white noise machine to soothe both the baby and the dog and minimise the occurrence of nightly cries.
When the baby comes:
While you are caught up in the excitement (and yes, panic) of delivering your precious cargo, don’t forget to make sure that your pup back home is safe and taken care for. Double check that you have left more than sufficient food for your dog. If you are worried about leaving your dog alone indefinitely, hire a dog-sitter or put your dog in a doggie care centre.
#5 Introduce the baby slowly
Hold back on immediately showing your baby to your dog. Instead, let your dog get all the excitement of greeting you out of the way. Once your dog has settled down, carry the baby in. If they start to growl, separate them from your infant and distract them with something else like a toy.
#6 Keep them well exercised
A walk a day keeps the destruction at bay. By expending their energy during a romp in the park or a game of frisbee will make your dog more calm at home when the baby comes. If it gets too taxing, you can always let them exercise at home by simply throwing a ball for them to play fetch. This will keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated, so they will be less likely to turn that pent-up energy onto the baby.
#7 Set clear boundaries
As easy as it is to succumb to those puppy-dog-eyes and let your furkid tear through the house like its their own, now is the time to tighten the rules, Be firm on what is accepted and what is not. that “drop” means drop and “no” means no. Ensure that your dog knows what can or cannot be chewed on, and that the unidentified object’s play mat is not a pee tray.
#8 Set aside quality time with your doggo
It is only natural for parents to end up spending 100% of their energy and focus on caring for the newcomer. However, remember that your dog was had you first, and they too can suffer from first-child-syndrome. So don’t forget to set some time aside to hang out with your pup alone.
Dogs can respond to negligence in different and unpredictable ways. A normally peaceful dog may lash out at the baby in jealousy, or become depressed due to loneliness. Hence, it is important to let them know that they still have a place in your heart. After all, no family is really complete with the presence of a four-legged best friend.