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Preparing Your Dog for a New Baby


Labrador puppy playing with a toddler


When preparing for a new baby, people don't always take their pets into account. Preparing dogs for having a new baby in the home is an important part of the preparation process. When a new baby is brought home, dogs face an overwhelming number of changes and experience new smells, sounds, and sights. In addition to new sights, sounds, and smells, it is likely that your pet's daily routine will be drastically altered and this can make for a difficult adjustment period for them. There are some things that owners can do to make the transition go smoothly. You should begin preparing your pet several months before the arrival of the baby and should focus on teaching your dog the skills necessary to interact safely with the new addition as well as how to adjust to new changes and experiences.


Teach Obedience Skills and Manage Behavior

You should try to get in as much training before the baby arrives as possible. Dogs that don't know them already should be taught basic obedience skills so their behavior can be more easily managed when the baby comes. Pets should know the basic sit and down commands and should also be able to stay and wait, leave and drop objects, politely greet people, and relax in a crate during hectic times. Owners may also want to consider teaching dogs hand targeting and to go away when asked. An obedience class can be helpful for dogs that are completely untrained.


Dealing With Lifestyle Changes

Your routine will be drastically altered once the baby arrives which means your pet's routine will also be altered. This can cause some dogs to experience anxiety but there are things that can be done to minimize anxiety ahead of the arrival of the baby. Gradually getting your dog used to changes can help to decrease their stress. Babies don't always stick to a schedule so it may be a good idea to prepare your pet for a less consistent schedule than they may be used to. Some schedule changes can be anticipated ahead, such as walk times, meaning you can gradually get your dog used to their new routine over a period of time. Owners who have highly active dogs that like to play with others may want to consider enrolling pets in doggy daycare once or twice a week. If you decide to look into doggy daycare, it is a good idea to schedule a vet visit to ensure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations. Pet insurance can help keep healthcare costs down and may cover some of the basics of your dog's care.

Dogs can be introduced to some of the new smells, sights, and sounds they will experience when the baby arrives. Allow pets to investigate baby supplies when they are being unpackaged. You can even place smaller items on the floor to allow investigation. It can also be a good idea to start using a bit of baby shampoo, lotion, and powder on yourself to get the dog used to these new smells. There are some animal behaviorists that even recommend practicing with a lifelike doll to prepare your dog. It can help owners determine which obedience skills need work before the arrival of the baby.


Bringing Home Baby

You should attempt to make your dog's experience with the new baby pleasant from the very beginning. When coming home from the hospital it is important to stay relaxed and calm. Allow others to enter the house first and greet the dog before entering with the baby. After a few minutes of greeting time, have someone put a leash on the dog and have some treats on standby. Divide the dog's attention between the treats, the baby, and any other people who are present. Continue to use the treats to reward good behavior. When you allow the dog to investigate the baby, make sure it is on a leash. This meeting should be done in a quiet room with a helper on hand.

While having a new baby in the house is a big adjustment for the entire family, the special needs of family pets should always be considered. With some planning and preparation, you can cut down on the stress of introducing your new baby to the family dog.


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by: Nick Braun

 

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