Before children (and even after) many people consider their pets their babies. Pets are important members of our family whom we love and interact with on a daily basis. Particularly for dogs, the arrival of a new baby can be a game changer. Having once had the full attention of their doting parents, the attention will be shifted to the demanding newborn and your pup or pups may begin to feel a little left out. Here are some tips for preparing your pooch for bringing home baby!
- Set up baby equipment like the crib, swing and other essentials in advance so that your dog can get used to his new surroundings. If you plan to have a gated off area where baby can safely play on the floor or have tummy time, go ahead and set that up early too so that your dog will begin to learn his new boundaries ahead of time.
- Nip any behavioral issues in the bud before baby arrives. If your dog is a habitual jumper when you walk in the door, take him to training school to kick the bad habit. The last thing you want is to be walking in the door with baby and have Rover jump on you both.
- If your dog has never been around children, consider taking him to a place with kids like the park to see how he reacts. Of course you will want to have him at a safe distance and on a leash for this experiment but it will helpful to see how he responds to little ones playing in the vicinity.
- Use your phone or a prerecorded CD to play sounds that a baby might make for your dog. He may have never heard the cries of a baby before and exposing him to these stimuli before the actual baby arrives may help circumvent any anxiety caused by new and often loud noises.
- Your dog’s schedule will likely have some changes once baby arrives. There may be fewer long walks or other “Rover and Mom” excursions and he probably won’t get as much attention once you have a newborn on your hands. Rather than having him experience an abrupt change on the day baby arrives, consider easing him into the new schedule over a series of weeks before your due date. Dogs do much better with gradual modification than hasty changes to their routine.
- If you plan to take your baby for walks and bring your dog too, practice pushing the stroller while walking your dog. It may seem like a silly thing to do with an empty stroller but this may be more complicated than you think and require some fine tuning before you’re toting both of your babies.
- Be sure your dog has his own set of toys. Your baby will have lots of new toys that likely interest your dog. He will need his own exciting things to provide a distraction from chewing baby’s Sophie the Giraffe teether.
- Make arrangements for who will care for your pup in your absence when you and your partner are off to have the baby. Be sure to leave instructions for feeding, walking and who to contact in an emergency and leave your dog some special toys and treats to keep him entertained while you’re away.
- Be sure to give Rover some extra love and snuggles in those final weeks before baby arrives. You soon will be busy with all the demands of a newborn and you both will be grateful to have had the extra cuddles when you could.
- If you are able, have your partner or a trusted friend return to your home after the baby is born with a blanket or onesie that smells like baby. This will help Rover become acquainted with the smell of his new sibling before he arrives at home.
- Ask for help! Taking Rover for long walks or for ‘Yappy Hour’ at the local park may be the last thing you are feeling up for in your sleep deprived state of new parenthood. Ask a friend or family member who is comfortable with dogs to help out with walks and getting your dog’s energy out. You will both be grateful you did!
- When you return home, have someone else hold baby while you greet your dog. Once he has calmed down, you or your partner can hold baby and allow Rover to sniff his feet and meet his new family member.
- In those first weeks at home, try to include your dog when possible. Have him lay by your feet as you nurse baby or sit by your side as you change your little one’s diaper. The more time he spends around you and baby, the more comfortable and accepting he will be.
- * Safety Tip * Never allow your dog to get in between you and the baby. Even the most well-behaved, gentle dog should not be put into a situation that could become potentially dangerous if they are startled, scared or uncomfortable.
Bringing a new baby home is a big adjustment for your dog too and taking the time to help him prepare for the change will serve you both well. With the right preparation and care to ensure that your dog’s physical and emotional needs are still being met, the introduction of a new baby can be a harmonious experience for all. In just a few years, your dog and your child will likely be the best of friends. For questions about bringing baby home or natural birth planning, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you, beginning to end!