When you are expecting a new baby, there are a lot of things to concern yourself with. Besides preparing the house for his arrival, it’s important to consider the effects the arrival has on other members of the family, particularly pets. While you may think that your mellow dog will be no problem, you never really know. This is also the case with your lovable but hyperactive canine. Some families have been known to get rid of dogs thinking, it’s better safe than sorry. Take comfort in knowing that this is not necessary if you take certain precautions. Before you are ready to bring your baby home, consider these tips to ensure everyone is safe and happy.
For those who have them, dogs are not just a pet, they are part of the family. As such, you care about them deeply and want to make sure they are happy. When you first find out you’re pregnant, you have approximately nine months to help prepare man’s best friend for the babies arrival. One of the first things you should do is review obedience commands and make sure they are known well. Your dog should be able to follow commands no matter what you are doing. This includes when you are sitting or standing. Your dog should know the words and not be following a different sign. If you are taking care of the baby, you want to make sure your message is received. Make sure to continuously reinforce these commands.
Depending on how long you have had your dog, you are likely to have an idea of what he likes and what bothers him. It’s important to know what your dog is sensitive to. Doing a little extra research on the breed or the breeds within your mix can give you a good idea about possible problems. Do loud noises bother him? Is he easily startled? Knowing these things can help you to control the environment a little better, keeping him and your baby happy. It’s also good to know how your dog seeks attention. While it is easy to get caught up with baby things, you should not ignore your dog. This could instill possible resentment towards the baby. Socializing your dog with small children before your baby arrives can also be helpful.
My last tip for pre baby time, is to begin a baby schedule. Bringing a baby home can turn your world upside down. From minimal sleep and constant feeding, you will have a new schedule every day for a while. Varying feeding times and having specific crate times may help your dog to adjust a little better. You should also vary, but never forget, your dogs exercise routines. Excess energy will not make things easier on you, when you bring your baby home.
After your baby arrives, my previous tips will help make things easier, but you should still be careful. No matter how good your dog seems, you should never leave the baby alone with the dog. Not even for a second. If you have to do something like get a bottle or answer the phone take the dog or baby with you. Baby gates will be a vital tool. Having separate space for your dog, that is not a crate, will also be extremely helpful. The crate, however, will be a safe place for your dog. Having his own area is like an older sibling having their own room. Finally, you should also make sure to keep your baby off the floor when your dog is around. Avoiding face to face contact between dog and baby will keep both safe.
Make sure you designate what belongs to your baby and what belongs to your dog. Never the two shall meet. When they are young, and at times not so young, kids don’t always understand the concept of “that’s not yours.” It is easy enough to avoid problems if you separate your baby’s toys and your dog’s toys. Sometimes the two seem similar, especially when they are stuffed animals. Try to keep your dogs toys in his area. When he takes them out, make sure your baby has something of his own. A nice soft baby stuffed animal will not only serve as a distraction, but likely keep him from trying to grab what your dog is playing with. This should help avoid any nipping or growling as well.
Now I know that you will have your hands full with a new baby in the house, but having one on one training time with your dog is important. It does not matter whether it is you or your significant other. You should also only use positive reinforcement training methods, particularly when it comes to the baby. You don’t want any negative associations with the baby in your dog’s mind. Finally, and most importantly, do not punish your dog for growling. I know your first instinct is to yell, but growling is more desirable than the alternative. Growling is a clear warning that the dog is uncomfortable in the situation. If you punish a dog for growling, next time he may not send the warning at all and just bite. If you hear growling, it’s best to remove your child from the situation.
At the same time, it’s important to make sure your child knows how to treat the family pet. When they are young, babies don’t realize they may be hurting an animal. Reinforce gentle petting by showing your baby how it is done. Reiterate what is nice and what they should not be doing. Let them know that tugging on ears and tails upsets your dog. The more you tell them, the sooner they will understand what is acceptable. If they don’t seem to understand how to be nice, it’s best to keep them at a safe distance until your child is old enough to learn.
While it is easy to worry about everything, there are ways to make things easier on yourself. There is no reason that baby and dog cannot coexist peacefully if you take some precautions. Following these tips will help you to have a happy home. And think of all the adorable pictures you can take.