Getting your dog(s) used to an impending change before it happens is key. If you’re anything like me, your fur babies consume 99.9% of your time –and now that’s going to change. Getting Fluffy used to a new sleep or walking schedule before the baby comes will help with the transition. It may sound crazy but start acting like the baby is there! Sit in the rocking chair, roll around the stroller and pretending to feed are all activities your pup will not be used to. If your pet still has some behavioural issues that you think need to be addressed-start an obedience class before the baby arrives.
Me Me Me!
Fluffy has been your life for the past five years, and now a new little one is taking all Mom’s attention. A few weeks before your due – lessen the amount of attention you are paying. Otherwise, it will be a big shock come baby time. Maybe go for one less walk or one less round of fetch each day. You don’t want to give all your attention to them, only to have it taken away abruptly once the baby comes.
What’s that noise?
Unfortunately, newborns cannot talk, so crying is their way of communicating with us. It can be a frightening and stressful noise for our dogs-especially if they have never heard it before. Start by playing a recording of a baby crying for short periods, and slowly increase how long you play it. It can help prepare them for when the real deal happens.
Before even introducing your little one to your pet, gather some clothing items the baby has been wearing and let them sniff. Allow them to be curious about the smell and come to you. Never force your dog to come to the baby, let them come on their terms. Start by keeping the baby at a distance and slowly ease into allowing them to sniff him/her in a controlled environment on a leash. If your baby suddenly screams or makes a noise, it could scare your pup, so be prepared. Once you have mastered the sniff, you can start to allow your dog to be off leash. Give plenty of praise and attention when baby and Fluffy are around each other, so they know being around a baby is a good thing.
Fluffy may be super excited about all the new toys that seem to keep appearing in the house even though they aren’t hers! Never scold your dog for picking up the baby’s toys; you don’t want them to associate the smell of the baby as a bad thing. Take the toy away and replace with one of their own.
Remember, this is all new, exciting and stressful for everyone! Preparation and practice can aid in this new adventure and transition to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.
Written by: Melissa Penner, RVT