There are many changes that a family have to adapt to when a new baby arrives, whether this is the first baby in the home or not. It is important to remember that your dog will also need to adapt to these changes and will need help and support from you to do so. In this article we discuss preparing your dog for the new arrival.
Having a new baby doesn’t not mean that your much loved family pet has to leave, far from it. These tips will help you prepare your pet so that the transition is as smooth as possible for all concerned.
- Discuss the fact that you have a dog with your midwife. He or she may be able to offer you advice and local recommendations if further training / a local animal behaviour expert might be needed.
- Ensure that your dog or dogs are up to date with any treatments and vaccinations.
- Work with your pet on any concerns they have regarding being separated from yourself (some dogs are happy to be left to their own devices while others need constant attention), barking and being easily excited. Your vet might be able to offer advice on behaviour issues or refer you to a local animal behaviourist.
- Get the dog used to spending short periods of time alone with their bed and a toy. Working on this during the run up to the birth is best as they will be used to these quite times apart before the baby arrives.
- Work out (as best you can!) the routine you will be following with the new baby and adjust the dog’s to work to the same times. Quiet times for the dog and your baby in tandem work much better than a dog being excited and noisy when you want baby to sleep.
- To reduce the risk of sudden changes once baby has arrived if the mum-to-be does the majority of the dog walks (etc) it might be wise to start someone else taking these jobs over in advance so that your dog doesn’t feel displaced by the new arrival.
- Audio recordings of babies crying / making noises played in advance will help your dog get used to these. Additionally seeing the baby’s cot / assorted furniture items and more around the house gradually will make these easier to deal with than if everything arrives and noises change all at once.
- Once the baby has arrived it will take the dog/s time to get used to him or her and the rules regarding approaching the baby. Be calm and consistent when teaching the dog how to approach the baby.
- It is important to praise progress and be firm but fair otherwise.Provided enough preparation regarding changes and training has taken place in advance the transition shouldn’t be too hard. Again, if you have any concerns before or after the new arrival comes home speak to your vet or a training specialist for advice. Getting everyone into routine and prepared will help you and your baby as well as reduce or hopefully eliminate any stress / distress your dog may feel about there being someone new in their home.