When dog-owning families bring a new baby home, they’re usually a little anxious about how the first meeting will go. How the dog will respond to a little human in the house who smells different, acts different and steals most of the attention that was once reserved solely for him.
But preparing your dog to adjust to a new baby should not wait to happen after the baby has arrived home from the hospital. There is a lot of groundwork that ought to be done much earlier — perhaps when you find out you are pregnant — so the animal’s behavior is already modified to acclimate to the sudden arrival of the baby in 9 month’s time.
Hear are some suggestions that would-be parents with dogs at home will find really useful.
START OBEDIENCE TRAINING – IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY
• If your pet hasn’t received basic obedience training, then now is a great time to start. This training would include common commands, such as `sit’, `down’, `leave it’, `go to your place’ etc. All of them will come in very useful when the baby arrives and you need to direct the dog to follow your wishes instantly.
If you don’t have the time to teach these basic commands yourself, definitely hire a professional dog trainer who can get this squared away for you.
PUT A STOP TO DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR
• A lot of pet-owners are resigned to the fact that their dog has some behavioral quirks. Like barking incessantly, chewing on things, jumping on family members etc. Even if these behaviors were okay by you when he was the only kid in the house, they have to change when the baby comes. Barking, for example, can wake up a sleeping baby you have finally managed to put to bed. Jumping on top of the newborn, pawing, or being boisterous in any way is a definite no-no.
While you do want your pet and his new brother or sister to become good friends, the early days of the baby’s life is not a time when you want to introduce the risks of a high-energy dog.
To nip these negative behaviors in the bud, it is strongly advisable to seek help from professional trainers. (Please contact us if you have questions or need help from our highly-experienced protection dog trainers by clicking here. If you suspect your dog may have jealousy issues, discuss that with our trainers as well because they will have an actionable plan to deal with emotion-led behaviors.)
WHAT ABOUT CRATE-TRAINING?
• There is no age barrier when it comes to crate-training. An adult dog can be successfully introduced to crates as much as a puppy, and if his relationship with the crate is positive and reward-oriented right from the start, there is a good chance that he will enjoy having a place of his own that is secure, safe and fun!
IS HE FAMILIAR WITH BABIES?
• If your pet has never interacted with a human baby, start socializing him as early on as possible. If family members and friends with babies are agreeable, let your dog sniff them and size them up, while you keep him on leash. Make these interactions gradual, taking one small step at a time, and always finish an encounter with a treat. The dog will not only become familiar with the uniqueness of a baby, he will also associate that interaction with a reward. And when his own brother or sister arrives from the hospital, he will be less stressed or agitated because he does not know what that strange creature is.
NEUTRALIZE THE EFFECT OF BABY SOUNDS AND SMELLS
• Find videos of babies crying, laughing or gurgling on Youtube, and play them often, so your pet can get desensitized to the sounds. Apply baby products, like baby lotions, baby powders, baby shampoos etc on yourself, so they don’t seem foreign. Let him sniff clean diapers. Anything the baby will use that the dog can experience and accept beforehand in a good idea.