Dogs are animals that love routine, so they need to be gradually prepared for each change. The arrival of a baby is one of the most significant changes, both in your and in the life of your pet, especially if it is your first child. Every day on the internet, we see adorable shots and photos of children and dogs, and we know how intense and wonderful the connection dogs can make with the children who grow up with them. Let’s help our furry friends make this new experience, just like that!
Below we bring you some essential and practical tips on best preparing your dog for the baby’s arrival in the house and providing comfort and safety to all family members.
Start preparing on time
Dogs sense when a woman is pregnant and know very well that “something is in store”. However, dogs do not like sudden changes and need more time to adapt to new circumstances, so it is important to start preparations for up to 6 months before the baby arrives. While it may seem premature to you, it’s better than being late.
The dog must be healthy and vaccinated
You certainly want your first dog-child contact to be a positive and fun experience for the dog. If the dog is sick, he will probably be withdrawn, maybe even nervous and irritable, and that is neither fun nor safe. For the baby’s health and safety, it is also necessary for the dog to be vaccinated and cleaned of external and internal parasites.
It is not recommended to keep a dog trained with the punishment method in a house with small children, as a dog could be interpreted as a threat to a baby’s sudden movements, if it has already been hit and if it has been treated rudely. Methods of positive incentives and rewards must socialise the dog.
Prepare the dog for new smells and sounds
We already know how sensitive a dog’s sense of smell is, and indeed the smells of baby cosmetics to your dog will be weird and unusual. That is why it is vital to leave creams, shampoos, wet wipes and powders for babies open in the house sometimes long before the baby arrives so that the dog has enough time to get used to these scents. Before the baby leaves the maternity ward, bring home some of the clothes the baby was wearing and let the dog sniff them. Reward positive and calm reactions to your baby’s clothes. Find the sounds of a baby crying, laughing and cooing and play them to the dog. These sounds are pretty intense and could be unpleasant for the dog. Therefore, initially let them go quieter and reward the dog every time he reacts calmly and without barking.
Gradually reduce the time you spend with your dog
The new addition to the house will take up most of your time, and the dog is used to having your attention whenever he wants it. That’s why a dog needs to learn to have a little more fun on its own. Buy him new toys that will keep his attention longer. However, it is essential not to neglect the dog. Find time for walks and play together. The routine of feeding, walking and sleeping should not be changed. If necessary, the changes must not be drastic or sudden. Walking with a dog and a baby together will create positive associations with the baby.
Getting to know the dog and baby
When arriving from the maternity ward, greet your pet in the usual way. Let him know that you missed him and that you are glad to see him. When the first arousal passes, lower the baby and let the dog sniff it. Avoid putting your child’s head in front of the dog, and it would be best to sniff his feet first.
Do not punish the dog
Focus on rewarding the dog for positive behaviour and directing him to what you want to do, instead of punishing him for unwanted reactions. With your help and control, you can let the dieter sometimes reward the dog with a treat and make that interaction more enjoyable for the dog. However, it would be best if you didn’t leave your dog and child unattended.
In any case, you know your dog best, and you probably know in advance what reactions you can expect. If the dog is adequately socialised and his behaviour is not otherwise problematic, with work, patience and a lot of love, you will get an actual little four-legged nanny. If you have any doubts, it is best to seek a veterinarian or a professional dealing with dogs’ socialisation.