While bringing home a new baby is an overall joyous experience, your pets might be overwhelmed by the new addition to your household. However, with the proper planning and training, your dog will get along with your new baby. Don’t wait until the big day to start training. Get your dog ready to accept the new baby as soon as you discover you’re expecting; it’s never too early to begin training. The following nine tips cover areas of particular concern.
1. Evaluate your dog’s general behavior
Examine your dog’s behavior to determine if there are any issues of fear or aggression. How does he react when someone gets close to his toys, bed, and food bowl? Is he especially sensitive when he’s around children and toddlers? What does he do if someone pulls his tail or tugs at his ears? If you observe questionable behaviors, address them with remedial training from a certified trainer and ask your vet for professional advice.
2. Teach proper manners in advance
Jumping is a nuisance under normal circumstances, but it could be dangerous when you add an infant to the mix. To avoid accidents, teach the dog to sit and wait for a greeting and to get on the furniture only when invited. Walking your dog could get complicated when you’re carrying a stroller, so practice before the baby arrives. Teach your dog “leave it” and “drop it” commands so you’ll be able to command your dog to leave baby’s items or drop them if he has them in his mouth.
3. Pet proof
Gradually, get the dog out of the habit of sleeping on your bed especially if the baby will sleep in a bassinet close to the bed. Set up an area where you could keep your pet contained during those times when you’re unable to supervise his actions. Use child gates at the edge of your baby’s room to keep your dog out of that area; gates with vertical slats are especially beneficial in that the dog will not be tempted to climb over those. Keep the dog’s food and water bowls out of high-traffic areas and get a diaper pail with a secure lid to keep the dog out.
4. Balance is essential
Don’t let the guilt of your divided loyalties push you into lavishing extra attention on your dog. While it’s essential to reassure your dog that you still care, it’s crucial that you teach your dog to be independent. This will ensure that he keeps himself engaged when you’re busy tending to your baby’s needs. Stock up on chew toys and puzzles to keep your pet engaged and establish an exercise routine that’s easy to maintain once your baby arrives.
5. Introduce your dog to the sights and sounds of a new baby
Get a doll that will imitate the sounds of a baby. Feed, diaper, swing, bathe and spend time with the doll just as you would with a baby and let you dog share in the experience. Teach the dog how to respect boundaries and how to behave around the baby; teaching him to remain calm when the baby is crying or sleeping is especially pertinent. Give him a blanket or some piece of clothing to smell and give him a treat after he smells it. Repeat the activity a few times and he’ll learn to associate your baby with something pleasant.
6. Plan the introduction
Introduce your dog to your baby in a neutral setting. Take the dog outside and introduce him to the baby before you enter the home. This is a good time to use the “sit” and “down” commands especially if the dog gets too excited. Give him a chance to sniff the baby and reward him with a special treat if he does well.
7. Don’t leave your baby unsupervised
It’s easy for your dog to bite the baby if you’re not around to supervise. Carefully monitor all interactions between the dog and baby and use gates to keep the dog contained when you’re unable to supervise.
8. Change his diet
Diet plays a crucial role in your dog’s behavior. He will have behavioral problems if there are many eggs, soy, wheat, corn, and sugar in his diet. Sugar is generally inappropriate for dogs; keep it out of your dog’s diet and you’ll fix a lot of behavioral concerns.
9. Teach your baby
Finally, teach your baby how to behave around the dog. This is generally taught by your own actions. For instance, do not check your dog’s ear or pat the dog on his head when the baby is around.
Preparing your dog for a new baby can be tricky. Follow these 9 tips to make the process a bit easier. If you have your own tips, feel free to share them with us in the comments section.