Preparing a big “sister” or “brother”- who happens to be a dog- for the arrival of a new baby take time and consideration. Like all older siblings, dogs are used to being the center of their parent’s attention. Like all older siblings, dogs can get jealous when the focus shifts away from them.
A little planning and prepping your dog prior to baby’s arrival is a good investment. You can’t read them books or videos, but there are ways to ease the transition. We’ve spoken with hundreds of dog owners over the years, have done a little of our own research, and have collected some easy and effective tips to help your dog welcome the newest family member into their home with open paws.
Older Sibling Classes
Depending upon your dog, and who knows them better than you, some parents recommend signing your dog up for basic obedience classes. Depending on the size of your pooch this will help in making sure that your dog understands proper behaviors. This is especially important when mommy or daddy is holding the new baby.
Change in Routines
Consider your dog’s routine and any possible changes that may occur, and make gradual changes to prepare for baby. Things to consider: feeding time and place(remember, once baby starts crawling, they will have access to bowls on the floor), walking time, who does the walking and where the dog sleeps are a few routines which might change with a new baby. Again, just like any older sibling it’s best to make the changes before the baby arrives so the dog does not associate the new changes with the new baby as that can spark jealousy and unwanted behaviors.
Here’s a hard one-cutting back on the amount of attention and play time is also recommended. Once your newborn comes home the lack of attention your dog receives won’t be such a shell shock .
New Scents and Sounds
Getting your dog used to the baby’s scent is important . Once the baby is born, if time allows, bring an item of the baby’s to your dog to smell-hats, blankets, essentially anything that the baby’s scent is attached to. This will help your dog get used to the smell of the new member joining their family. Dogs are all about scent.
Even playing tape recordings of baby sounds is not a bad idea. These can help your dog adjust to the new noises and sounds of your newborn once they have arrived home.
Prior to the baby’s arrival teach your dog a “to go place” . This is a designated place for your dog to go when you are occupied with your newborn, be it changing diapers, nursing or trying to put the baby to sleep. Having toys in the designated area for your dog to keep busy is strongly suggested. Or you can always reward with treats.
When you arrive home from the hospital first greet your dog without the baby. Again, as with any sibling, your dog may be excited, and sometimes excited dogs jump. You’ll be tired, and that’s just not what you need. Some people have suggested that the first time your dog meets their new sibling it’s a good idea to have the dog on a leash. Some wait a few days before they let their dog meet the new addition to the family. Once the dog is used to the baby's smell allow the dog to sniff the baby while off leash, but with an adult nearby.
Do the best that you can to show your dog plenty of attention when the baby is around. And lastly, remember, baby toys look a lot like dog toys-and vice versa, so, try not to scold your dog if they pick up the baby’s toys, and, once baby starts crawling, you’ll get to practice the reverse!
A well prepared dog can be a baby's best friend, and protector too!