As an expectant mum, for the second time, I am all too familiar with the worries of how your furry four-legged best friend will react to a new addition. First time around my boy took to our bundle of joy extremely well and accepted him into the fold with little fuss. Although we were prepared, of sorts, and had an idea on how to introduce them, there are things that we will be doing differently this time around.
Pre arrival prep and planning…
- Avoid sibling rivalry and implement training as early as possible as this will be an invaluable tool including helping your dog to identify what is theirs and what is not.
- Ask friends and family members to strengthen and build on their bonds with your dog to help reduce the impact of changes in the home.
- Ask for advice from professionals such as behaviourist, vets and trainers.
- Provide positive experiences that include children and familiarise them with baby noises and objects such as car seats, prams etc.
- Plan for the care of your dog when you go into labour.
- If you are intending to keep rooms dog free when the baby is born, you will need to set these boundaries before the baby arrives (use gates or seek advice off professionals).
- Routine care such as worming needs to be up to date.
- Provide a safe space for your dog where they can retreat/escape if they are feeling overwhelmed.
- Start to gradually reduce your dog’s exercise in preparation for when your baby arrives. If your new busy schedule means you miss a walk there will be less of an issue.
The big day has arrived…
- Prior to baby coming home take one of their blankets home for your dog to familiarise themselves with the smell.
- Let mum greet the dog first and then dad can follow with the baby.
- Avoid sudden changes in behaviour such as a decrease in attention, isolation or shouting, despite how tired you may be feeling.
- Acknowledge and understand how your dog is feeling. If they display signs of being stressed, confused or anxious this could mean that they are struggling with the changes.
- Never leave your dog and baby alone.
- Allow your dog to approach you and your baby in their own time.
- Spend time with them, especially after baby has arrived. Routine will help to ease the transition.
- Include them and reward them when they show calm and gentle behaviour.
- Use interactive toys and exercise to keep them occupied especially when you are needing to do things such as feeding.
An exciting future…
Your dog will be an invaluable learning resource and a lifelong friend for your baby. Remember this and you will have two very happy and content family members. Take this opportunity to teach your new baby how to behave around dogs and other animals.
- Teach key skills such as love and respect for animals, these skills will then be transferred to people as well.
- Enforce boundaries. When a dog has food, is sleeping or has taken themselves off to their safe space they are to be left alone.
- Make sure that baby knows how to be gentle with dogs and other animals.
I hope that this may help provide some guidance and direction to introducing your furry family members to the newest arrival, but most importantly enjoy every second as your family grows.