Pregnancy brings with it many changes, not only for the expectant mom but for the entire family. Your dog is no exception. He will need to learn to accept your new baby and the changes in your routine. But with a little effort and preparation prior to the birth, your dog and baby can learn to get along well with each other.
Dogs and Babies: Before the Birth
Before the birth of your baby, take some time to familiarize yourself with your dog’s body language and look for habits you may need to change before the baby arrives. Behaviors such as jumping, pawing or nibbling may have been acceptable before, but with a new baby in the house, that will no longer be the case.
Work with your dog to replace undesirable behaviors with more appropriate behaviors. Training basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it” is one of the best things you can do to prepare. Use rewards in the form of tasty treats, favorite toys or extra attention to teach these commands and make sure to keep training sessions fun. Once your dog responds to these commands, they can be used to replace the behaviors you want to discontinue. For instance, when your dog jumps on you, command him to sit and then reward for doing so. He will soon learn what you expect.
Preparing Your Dog for the New Baby
Practice as many of the routine daily activities that will be necessary when your baby arrives as possible by substituting a doll or teddy bear for your baby prior to your delivery. Include your dog in these exercises. For instance, practice taking your dog on a walk with a baby stroller. Take your dog for a ride in the car with a baby seat in place. Carry the doll or teddy bear through your home and practice putting it down for a nap with your dog in tow. Practice feeding your substitute baby with your dog in the room.
Allow your dog to get used to the baby’s equipment. Set up the crib, changing table, play pen and other baby equipment well in advance and give your dog time to adjust to its presence.
Prepare a dog-free zone and a baby-free zone within your household. Just as your baby will need time away from your dog, your dog will need time to himself away from the baby as well. If your dog is not used to being confined, allow him to get used to the idea before the baby comes.
When the Baby Arrives
When your baby is born, bring a blanket or clothing item that your baby has worn home to your dog before you bring the baby home, if possible. Give your dog the opportunity to familiarize himself with the scent of the new baby before the real introduction.
Photo Courtesy of Jacobim Mugatu/Flickr.com