Sure, your dog will always be your baby. But when you have a human baby on the way, chances are you'll need to make some adjustments to your dog's daily routine. Knowing how to prepare dogs for a new baby can help your family make its addition smoothly.
Now is the time to make changes to your dog's behaviors, environment, and daily routines. For instance, a pup who is accustomed to being the center of your universe would be very distraught if a baby suddenly took away almost all of his attention. It's kinder on the dog (and you) to help him adjust to the many changes a baby brings more slowly.
Additionally, this is a great opportunity to address any potential behavior issues. Of course, dogs who may get aggressive with a baby need training lessons right away. But even a well-mannered dog may need a little extra training if he, say, barks his head off every time the doorbell rings. Although this behavior is only annoying now, you don't want to live with a dog who will wake the baby every time a visitor approaches your home. Fortunately, with a little forethought and guidance, your dog can be ready for your baby in no time.
1. Get Schooled
If you dog has never taken obedience classes, now might be an excellent time to sign up. As explained in Parents, a good obedience instructor can help correct behaviors that may be troublesome once a baby is in the house. Even if your dog is teeny-tiny, some obedience classes may help him become more manageable when your time and attention are in short supply.
2. Create A Safe Space
The first few weeks with a new baby will be hectic for everyone in the family, and this includes your dog. Making sure he has a safe space to retreat to, such as a laundry room or dog crate, can help your puppy adjust to the crying, fussing tiny person, as noted in Baby Center. It's a nice way to help your pup destress and gradually become accustomed to the sounds, sights, and smells of the infant.
3. Consider Specific 'Baby Readiness' Classes
Even if your dog is a well-trained beastie, it never hurts to learn more. According to Baby Center, some veterinarians and trainers have 'baby readiness' classes to get you and your pup prepared for junior's arrival. Typically these classes involve an assessment of your dog's temperament, as well as basic information on creating an environment that helps promote a happy home. (Keeping kids out of your dog's food bowl, for instance, is a good call.)
4. Invite Babies Over
If your dog has never been around babies before, now might be a good time to help him get used to the idea. According to the Humane Society, inviting friends with babies into your home can help your dog get used to all the smells and noises that go along with infants. Just be sure to supervise all of your visits.
5. Try The Smell Test
Long before your little one arrives, you can start helping your puppy get acclimated to the variety of scents that go along with baby care. Letting your dog sniff the many baby care lotions and cleansers that you will use can be helpful, as noted in WebMD. This means Fido will have one less new thing to process once that baby makes her debut.
6. Increase Alone Time
If your dog has been your 'baby' for a long time, chances are he's accustomed to being the center of attention. You can help him get used to being on his own more by decreasing the amount of time you spend together in the weeks leading up to the birth, as explained by Dogs Trust. Although this may seem sad, it's actually kinder to help him make the adjustment ahead of time.
7. Consider No-Dogs-On-Furniture Rule
Chances are, your dog cuddles with you on the bed or couch on occasion, even if he isn't officially allowed on the furniture. But it may be time to ban him from the sofa now. According to the American Humane Society, dogs may see babies on the furniture as competitors and get territorial, and even a very gentle dog could accidentally hurt a baby by leaping on the bed or couch. With that in mind, you may want to train your dog to keep all four paws on the floor.
8. Adjust Walking Needs
Taking your dog for his accustomed long walks may be difficult once the baby arrives. Therefore it's a good idea to help your dog get accustomed to a mix of shorter and longer walks in the time leading up to your baby's arrival, as noted in Today's Parent. In addition, you could sign up for a dog walking service to keep your pup thoroughly exercised for the last days of your pregnancy and the first weeks with your baby.
9. Read Up
If you want even more in-depth advice about helping you dog and newborn become friends, then there are plenty of books you can check out. Lisa Edwards' Please Don't Bite the Baby (and Please Don't Chase the Dogs), as well as Michael Wombacher's Good Dog, Happy Baby, are both excellent starting points. You and your dog can be baby-ready in no time.