You just found out that you are expecting and you are overjoyed about it. As you are starting to prepare for the baby’s arrival, don’t forget that you have another child – your dog. When you suddenly bring home a baby your dog might get overwhelmed with the new face, sounds, and smell. So it’s important to get him ready before you bring the baby home. I have enumerated some tips for you in order to prepare your dog for the day when he is going to meet the new family member.
Set boundaries on baby’s area
Decide where he could stay and couldn’t and set a boundary. Like the nursery room. Condition your dog to understand that the nursery room is off limits to him. He can only enter the room with your permission. Start to also switching your dog’s routine if needed. Like where he can sleep and walk but do this gradually. Make sure that he is already sticking to it before the baby comes home so he will not associate the changes with the baby.
Teach him to “go away”
Train your dog to control his movements. Before the baby arrives, teach him to “go away” when you said so. You can do this by tossing a treat a couple of feet away each time you say go away. Make sure that your dog is taking a step before you toss a treat. Gradually decrease tossing a treat when your dog started to go towards the direction where you want him to go until you can completely refrain from tossing treats. You can do this by moving your arms as if you are tossing a treat. Don’t forget to give him praises for a job well done.
Introduce a baby’s scent
Try to familiarize your dog to a baby’s scent by personally using some baby lotion, baby soap/shampoo, creams, and powder. Or while in the hospital when the baby is born, ask someone to bring home your baby’s used blanket so your dog can get used to the scent. While doing this, make sure that you are setting boundaries to your dog. Make him sniff at a distance when you are introducing these new scents to your dog in order to make it clear that he cannot go near it without your permission. This helps creating a process of respect for the baby.
Introduce a baby sight and sounds
Dogs can be sensitive to strange noises especially if he’s not used to hearing it. He can be frightened or agitated when he hears a baby cry. To start him in getting used to this sound, you can play a recording of a baby crying, laughing, or cooing and play it for about 5 to 10 minutes. Start with a very low volume and increase it gradually until your dog is comfortable to the sound. Give him treats and attention while doing this exercise so he’ll associate these sounds to getting treats whenever he hears this. While you’re at it, you can also practice with a doll and go through a baby’s routine by using a doll including feeding, rocking, carrying and even walking it with a stroller.
Meeting for the first time
The day that everyone anticipates finally comes. Your dog and your baby are meeting for the first time. A dog can sense emotions like fear and anxiety so make sure that you have the control over it by being in a calm and relax state. Allow your dog to sniff the baby and since you have already introduced the scent it may already be familiar for him. Maintain a respectful distance between the dog and the baby. Remember, this is their first meeting so don’t bring the baby too close. It will also help if you can put him in a leash for added control. Don’t forget to speak cheerfully and offer him treats if he is reacting positively around the baby.
You child’s safety should always come first so if you feel like your dog isn’t adjusting well, consider getting a professional help like a dog trainer or an animal behavior expert. They can visit your home and come up with a plan to help you on preparing him for the big day to come.