How do I prepare my dog for a new baby?
Do you have a fur baby at home, but are now expecting a real baby? If the answer is yes, then now is a good time to start getting your furry friend prepared. Ensuring a smooth transition will mean less stress for everyone and a much happier dog when the baby arrives.
Why do I need to prepare?
When it’s without warning, the arrival of a baby can make pets feel unsettled. It’s likely to disrupt their routine and bring a lot of confusion with new noises and smells. Alongside this, the increase in visitors andbusier environment may not be what they are used to. By preparing them for a new family member it will feel like less of a disruption and give everyone confidence in the new chapter approaching.
When shall I prepare?
Dogs are intuitive animals and they are likely to notice the bump growing or a change in behaviour at home quicker than you think. The earlier you can prepare your dog, the better. It’s better to introduce new behaviours slowly and at their own pace so it doesn’t feel like too much at once.
How to prepare
Buy some baby bits before the baby arrives
Introducing your dog to baby products like changing mats, nappies, playmats and baby nests can really help when leading up to the arrival of your baby. It gives the dog time to sniff around and investigate the new items. Most importantly, it allows the parents to set boundaries and create a safe environment for everyone to thrive!
Reenact as much as possible
Try practising as many situations that you think will occur when the baby arrives. For example, pretend to change a nappy or play music from a mobile. Your pet will get used to the actions, sounds and smells from these new activities. Some people even play the sound of a baby into the house- starting at a low level and slowly increasing it.
Change in the routine
How do you think your dog's routine will change when the baby arrives? Will you not be able to give them as much attention? Will there be more visitors? Will they be going on shorter walks, or maybe a different route? Will there be restricted areas of the house e.g. baby’s bedroom?
There are lots of things to consider, and again, it’s very important to gradually get your dog used to these changes so they feel confident with their new routine and what to expect.
Try walking around and talking to your practice baby (this can just be a blanket rolled up or a doll). If the dog tries to jump up or bark, then ignore them. If your dog stays on the ground, then reward with a treat.
Encouraging ‘invitation only’ to areas like the sofa, babynest and nursery are great things to get them used to. Placing your practice baby in a babynest will get the dog used to that being the baby’s space.
Setting these boundaries, establishing rules and being consistent will help create a safe family environment.
Getting out and about with your dog
Heading out with your new baby and your dog may feel a little overwhelming at first. To ease any apprehension, you can take the dog out for some practice walks. Try taking the pram out before the baby arrives and train your dog to walk alongside the pram. Remember to reward them when they walk alongside you.
With practice, this will hopefully make the whole family feel relaxed and confident when heading out together.
Overall, this does not need to be a stressful time. This is a new chapter for the family and your furry friend can adapt to the new dynamics by learning new behaviours. Going through the process can also help you think a bit more about the things you need to put in place before the baby arrives. Plus this training can actually be a lot of fun! Not only do you get to spend quality time with your dog but it's good practice for you!