Getting your dog ready for your newborn...
I often ask new parents or parents with new bubbas if they have dogs and how they cope?
More often times that not first time parents share the same story, they would love to get a cat or dog but just don't like the idea of a dog and a newborn, and rightly so, as its a scary thought, your bubba is too precious...
New parents with pets usually share that that are very aware of said dog near baby.
So it got me thinking, (since we have a big "scary" - pppfffft) labrador, so google here we come:
‘How to Prepare Your Dog for a Baby’ - you’ll get an infinite number of responses.
Trouble is, a lot of these so-called ‘guides’ are written by baby and ‘mummy’ sites which have all the focus on the newborn and pretty much treat the dog like a troublesome piece of furniture, which makes me so sad.
We believe dogs/pets are an important and integral part of the family,valued and loved just as much as every other member.
The number one thing you can do to keep your dog happy, healthy and calm during the arrival of your new baby? A daily walk.
You can buy your dog every dog treat, toy and fancy collar under the sun, but without a daily outlet to release their energy and get outside even the best dogs become depressed and destructive.
While looking after a newborn AND taking your dog for a walk seems like mission impossible, with a little bit of planning it can be done.
DO start to vary the times of walks and outings. That way while your dog still gets their daily walk, they don’t get into a routine of expecting at a certain time of day.
Start to vary who goes on walks and outings. Don’t leave the dog walking up to one family member. Your pup needs to learn to be comfortable being taken out by a number of people.
That way when one of you is occupied, the other one can step in and go for the walk.
DON’T wing it. Make a plan of how you are going to keep up your dog’s regular activity and stick to it. This is a non negotiable. A well exercised dog is a happy dog.
If up until this point, your household has had a laissez-faire attitude to rules – it’s time to make a change.
Once you find out you’re pregnant there’s no better time to teach or reinforce your dog’s basic training and understanding of house rules.
By you clearly making it known that you’re the pack leader, your dog will feel secure in their place in the pack when the baby comes.
DO ensure your dog understands basic commands such as sit, drop and stay. These commands will be invaluable when you’re introducing fur-child number one to human child number two.
When training, always use positive reinforcement methods such as treats and praise. This will not only get the best results, but it will strengthen the bond between you and your pup.
DO clearly define any ‘off-limit’ zones in the house prior to the baby’s arrival.
If the nursery is to be a no-go zone, get your dog used to these months before your due date. That way your dog will not associate being excluded with the presence of the baby.
DON’T introduce new rules when you bring the baby home. Like the ‘off-limit’ zones, work on these new boundaries during your pregnancy.
If your dog will no longer be allowed on the furniture or discouraged from jumping up, teach them these new rules prior to the baby’s arrival.
PREPARE THEM FOR NEW THINGS
With a new baby, your dog is going to be bombarded with a whole bunch of new smells, sounds and experiences.
By introducing these to your dog in a gradual way, you can help prevent an all-out assault on their sense when the baby first comes home.
Get your dog used to the sounds a new baby will make. Youtube!
Let them sniff some of the baby’s things. Get your dog to sit calmly and then allow them to sniff the item.
This allows them to get used to the new smell, while also associating their calm behaviour with the scent.
Don't bombard them with baby gadgets in one go. In the lead up to birth, allow your dog to see the new baby gear up close and personal.
Wheel the stroller around, fill up the baby bath, turn the baby swing on…whatever you are planning on using when the baby comes home, get your dog used to it beforehand.
The last thing you want is your dog chasing the stroller wheels on baby’s first outing!
PROMOTE A SAFE AND CALM SPACE
During pregnancy and the lead up to birth, things can get very stressful very quickly. It’s a whole new adventure for all of you.
By promoting a safe and calm space within the home, you will ensure not only your dog remains happy and healthy, but the whole family does.
Provide a safe, warm space for your dog to curl up in away from the baby.
Knowing they have this space to themselves will offer them a retreat if needed.
Don't decide now is the time to move your indoors dog to be an outdoors dog.
Your dog is a pack animal and banishing them outdoors to make room for a new baby will make them feel alone and confused.
Its not a good idea to raise your voice at your dog when stressed. Your dog will pick up on your stress levels and internalise your stress.
If you’re frustrated or upset, leave the room and take a few deep breaths. Rely on your dog’s training and positive reinforcement in a calm manner and you’ll encourage calm behaviour in your dog.
AT THE BIRTH
You never know when a baby is going to decide to turn up! But the last thing you want is the whole family rushing off in the middle of the night and no-one returning for days leaving pooch all alone.
Have a plan. Before you pack your hospital bag, plan who is going to care for your dog while you are in hospital having the baby.
Make sure they know all the requirements for caring for your dog, including emergency contacts.
Ensure whoever is going to look after your dog comes over and gets to know your dog prior to caring for them.
Make sure they are comfortable on walks and with feeding.
That way your dog will welcome them with open arms when they come at the time of the birth.
Greet your dog as normal when you return home – don’t have your focus all on the new baby.
Your dog has missed you while you’ve been away and by returning home just like it’s a regular day will keep things as normal and calm as possible.
PLAN ALONE TIME
For a lot of dogs, they came first. Many were on the scene long before any partners or children came along.
While your time is now limited, it’s important to carve out alone time with your dog on a regular basis to keep the bond between the two of you strong.
DO spend quality one-on-one time with your dog every day.
This is not only for their benefit, but yours too. Some time out together – even just a short cup of tea in the sun or a game of fetch – will recharge you both, promoting a happy healthy family for everyone.
I hope this guide is helpful to you, as I sure these are questions or thoughts on your mind when it comes to bubs and pooch... Let me know if you have any other tips?