How to Prepare Your Dog for a New Baby
Get tips on preparing your dog for the changes that come with a new baby.
It’s also practical to have your dog wait for permission before getting up on furniture--you won’t find yourself with a lapful of canine every time you sit down to nurse. Dogalini can come up and sit or lie down next to you when you invite her, if you like. Practice with a life-size infant doll, or even have a dog-savvy friend come over with her actual baby--the more realistic your training, the better prepared your dog will be.
Bring Home Baby’s Smell
Last but not least, bring home Baby’s smell before you bring home Baby--take an item of the baby’s clothing and let Zippy get acquainted a day or even an hour before the newborn or new adoptee comes in the door. The less novelty value Baby has, the less rambunctious Zippy is likely to be. If you know Zippy will get totally beside himself when the baby-toting parent comes in the door, having them meet outside may make things calmer. Or perhaps a friend could hold Baby for a few minutes while Zippy greets the people he’s been missing. Leave the baby-greeting for last, after Zippy’s had a chance to settle down.
I’ve just scratched the surface here. You know your own situation best. Think through your daily routine with your dog. What will change? What manners behaviors will you find most useful in your home? What needs does your dog have that absolutely must be met no matter how tired and preoccupied you are? Can you find workarounds for those things you won’t reliably be able to provide? The more thoroughly you prepare, the lower the stress, and the lower the stress, the happier the family. The Dog Trainer wishes you all the best!
I welcome your comments and questions – email firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can talk to me on Facebook, where, amazingly enough, I’m The Dog Trainer. Dogalini is me on Twitter. That’s it for this week – thanks for reading.
The ASPCA has a nice short guide to baby prep, here.
Hetts, Suzanne, and Daniel Estep. Helping Fido Welcome Your Baby. DVD (Animal Behavior Associates, 2007).
Pelar, Colleen. Living with Kids and Dogs … Without Losing Your Mind (Dogwise, 2007).
Ryan, Terry. Sounds Good Audio CD: Babies (Legacy Canine Behavior and Training, 2005).
Scott-Fox, Penny. And Baby Makes Four: A Trimester-by-Trimester Guide to a Baby-Friendly Dog (TFH, 2007).
Shryock, Jennifer. Dogs and Storks: Preparing Families with Dogs for Life with Baby! DVD (Dogs & Storks; n.d.).
The Sense-ation and Sense-ible front-clip harnesses are sold online, here. The EasyWalk Harness, by Premier, is sold in many brick-and-mortar pet supply shops. Which harness is right for you depends partly on your dog’s size and build, so experiment if you need to. Also, for many dogs, the harness is more secure if paired with a martingale (“Greyhound”) collar (one is illustrated here). Choose a wide martingale made of comfortable fabric, not chain, and fit it so that it’s just tight enough not to slip over your dog’s head. Its purpose is to provide security, not to give so-called “corrections.” Attach the clip on your dog’s leash to both the harness and the loop on the martingale.
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