It goes without saying that a new arrival in the family is a very exciting time although it can be a stressful time for dogs. So much changes when a baby arrives and all too often it gets very confusing for a canine companion to have to cope with. The fact they don’t get as much attention can make them feel a little forgotten which is why preparing your pooch for all these changes is so important.
All dogs need to understand the rules and if any need to be reinforced, it's best to start doing this before you get too busy doing “baby” things. By taking the time to “hone” a few of your pet's basic commands, you'll make life a lot easier for yourself and your four-legged friend when baby comes home.
Polishing up basic commands like “sit” and “down” goes a long way when things get a bit exciting. If your dog has nice manners, it really is just a question of reminding them about things so that you know they understand who is “boss” and that they recognise boundaries. When a dog knows their place they are more under your control and not as likely to react impulsively to an unfamiliar situation. You have to remind them that you are the Alpha dog in the household and that they have to listen to everyone else in the home too.
It's easy to forget about getting things ready around the home so that when mum and baby arrive things are already in place for your canine companion. This includes setting up “baby gates” which are more for your dog than anything else. Having gates in place helps establish boundaries which when baby first comes home is important as it helps dogs get through the transition period by allowing them the time to get used to the changes.
You may also need to invest in a traditional lead if you don’t already have one which you can tie to a heavy piece of furniture. This is a useful tool that prevents your dog from getting too close to baby when they are in a room together, remembering never to leave the two of them alone even when your pet is tied to something, just in case.
Apart from making sure your dog recognises set boundaries using baby gates, you might also like to buy them a really comfortable bed because the chances are they are going to be spending a lot more time in it than they used to, at least for a while that is. You should also invest in some really good quality toys which they can play with when you cannot interact with them yourself, although you should spend as much time playing with your dog as you can so they don't start feeling left out which could lead to a little resentment.
It's also a very good idea to get your dog used to the pram and stroller, this includes when it is being pushed along. Some dogs and more especially breeds like the Terrier or Border Collie often fixate on wheels which can be a real issue if you are attempting to push baby along in their pram when your pet is around. By introducing your dog to the “strange” items before baby gets home, everything will be more familiar instead of new and sometimes frightening. However, it's also a good idea to get your pet used to walking alongside the pram when you go for a walk before baby is actually in it.
Although it would be virtually impossible to know just how well a newborn baby will sleep through the night or whether they will cry a lot, there are certain things you can do to prepare your canine companion for all the changes that are bound to happen in the household. If your dog is used to getting up at 7 am every morning, the chances are that baby will need feeding and changing a lot earlier than that, so it's important to start waking your dog up earlier than usual before baby actually comes home. Like this your pet would be more prepared for the changes in their routine.
It would be fair to say that dogs can feel a bit left out so as previously mentioned, it's really important to spend some quality time with your pet as often as you can. This could involve playing interactive games with them and taking them out for long one-to-one walks to a favourite park. It would be very unfair on your pet if you just forgot to spend as much time as you did with them before baby arrived on the scene.
When your dog is well behaved around or near baby, you have to give lots of praise to them, but to do so calmly to avoid getting them too excited about things. If they listen to you when you tell them to sit or wait, you need to reward them straight away for obeying the commands even though their interest in the new “smell” could get the better of them. The other thing you need to bear in mind is that flea collars need to be kept well away from baby so if your pet is wearing one, you need to watch they don't get too close the newborn.
It can be a confusing time for dogs when a new baby arrives in the home, so the more you do to prepare them for this event, the easier it will be on them. Setting up baby gates to help establish boundaries during the transition period is a very good idea and so is polishing up on basic commands. Well behaved dogs are so much nicer to be around, but no matter how good your dog is when they around baby, they should never be left on their own with them.