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Preparing the dogs for a baby coming home to join the family

Published: Friday, March 14, 2014

When I found out I was pregnant I knew immediately that it would be a huge change for our much loved companions, Bearded collie, Indie and Old English sheepdog cross, Hugo. Having previously not had much to do with children let alone babies it was always going to be a bit of a change for them to have to share their attention.

It is amazing how you automatically start viewing everything in a new light when a baby is due. Previously accepted dog behaviours have to be slightly adjusted so that the dogs and the baby are not put in any precarious situations when the baby is around.

We started preparing them for the changes ahead early into the pregnancy. Life had very much revolved around them until that point and we didn’t want them to feel left out when the baby arrived, not just to avoid jealousy but because to us they are just as important members of the family as the baby would be.  We started by restricting their access to various places in the house. We installed a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs and made sure they knew they couldn’t follow us around as they had been doing. After a few weeks they stopped waiting at the gate for our return (unless it was walk time!). After that we opened up a baby play pen and gated off half of the living room. We only let them through to ‘our side’ when we had settled for the evening. They could see us the whole time and were happy with this arrangement. It all served well to get them used to being apart from us in the house occasionally. Next we introduced them to the new baby related furniture in the house. We set the pushchair up and let them get used to walking around it and seeing it all the time. Then it came to walking along side it; we took them out and let them walk next to the wheels. Indie, who can be a little flighty wasn’t too happy with this arrangement. She seemed to think that they were going to run her over and kept jumping away from it. She gradually realised that it was safe and by the time we returned home again she was fine. Hugo, just happy to be out on a walk, took it all in his stride.

As my belly grew larger, they would no longer fit on my lap (both think they are lap dogs!). However, they would lie along side me and use my bump as a pillow. This was fine, although occasionally they would get a kick that woke them up with a surprise which was very amusing. Having always been allowed onto the sofa, they now had to get used to only being invited up when we chose. This upset Hugo more than Indie as he had commandeered a specific spot that he didn’t really want to give up. A few weeks later though he had become used to the idea and would wait and then let you know his intentions by starting to put his paws on to your lap and gradually work his way up! This too had to stop though as he would no longer be able to behave like this with a baby around.

There is only so much preparation that you can give them but being well adjusted dogs we knew that as long as we continued to give them as much attention as they needed they would cope well.

Please Note: This should not be used instead of the advice of a correctly trained dog behaviourist

Nutrition Advisor 

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