Many dogs have been raised as the focus of attention around the family home. The introduction of a new baby to the family can upset this dynamic and should be planned and prepared for well before the baby’s arrival.
What should I do to prepare for the arrival of a new baby?
The arrival home of a new baby should be as pleasurable experience for your dog as it is for the rest of the family. For this reason it is important that your dog is accustomed to as many of the likely changes before the actual arrival. Adapting to these changes and new routine can take sometime, so don’t leave it to the last few weeks before starting.
- First and foremost you must ensure you tackle any behaviour problems that may have a bearing on the health and safety of your new baby. Take a closer look at our behaviour guides for some practical advice on common problems.
- The attention focused on new babies can cause jealousy within your dog. Although you may find this difficult, start to reduce the amount of attention you give your dog so that they get used to this before the baby arrives. Get your dog used to being left alone for short periods.
- Brush up on basic training and obedience. Your dog must be able to sit and lie down on command. Your dog must also understand good social etiquette and be able to settle when requested. This is particularly important for larger dogs where boisterous behaviour may be a danger to some babies.
- With a new baby comes a raft of new items, smells and sounds, many of which your dog will not be familiar with. Introduce items such as prams, playpens and highchairs into the household well before the baby arrives and place them in the expected locations. Start to train your dog to walk to heel alongside the pram. Try to teach your dog the difference between baby toys and his toys.
- If you have a good friend with a baby, ask if you and your dog can spend a little time with them. Keep your dog under strict control and keep the sessions brief. If possible, get a tape recording of baby noises and play it in the areas the baby is likely to be.
- It is likely that you will need to start to restrict your dog from certain areas and rooms. Your dog should certainly not be allowed in the baby’s bedroom at anytime. Start this discipline as soon as possible so that it is engrained well before the baby arrives and does not associate the exclusion with the baby. Consider crate training if you have not already done so
What should I do when the baby arrives at home?
- Try and minimise the amount of fuss and excitement when your new baby arrives home. Allow your dog to investigate and have a brief sniff.
- Ensure there are lots of treats around to reward your dog for behaving correctly around the baby. They will soon come to realise that nice things happen when the baby is around.
- Always employ positive training techniques and never reprimand you dog around the baby or for approaching it in the wrong way. Always reward when they are doing it right.
- Avoid placing your baby on the floor with your dog and certainly NEVER leave your baby alone with your dog in a room.