Dogs are sensitive creatures and if you’re pregnant (congratulations by the way!) chances are they already suspect that something important is going on. Welcoming a new baby into the world will change your life (for the better, don’t worry!) and your dog’s life too. To make sure bringing your baby home is as stress free as possible, you need to spend time preparing your dog during your pregnancy…
Setting clear rules and boundaries
Now is the time to get rid of any little bad habits that you’ve let creep in due to lax discipline. Reinforce your household rules, as minor misbehaviors that are easy to forget now, won’t be as easy to cope with when you’re coping with a newborn. Start today and be consistent in the messages you send your dog about what behaviour is acceptable and what is not. For example, if your dog has started jumping up onto you this may only be a minor irritation now, but when you’re holding a newborn it’ll become a major one – in this case you’d impose a four paws on the floor rule.
Think about your home and how you’ll use your space once baby has arrived. It might be that your spare room will become a nursery, which you won’t want your dog to enter unless invited? The key here is to start acting as if the baby’s here – your dog will quickly learn that the nursery is off limits now. The same goes for sitting on the sofa and snoozing on your bed – if your dog isn’t permitted to do so when the baby arrives, put this into practice now. Dog’s love to please us and really benefit from clear rules and boundaries, so there’s no need for you to feel bad, just make sure your dog has comfortable warm spots to relax and play in around your home and that your praise them for adhering to the new rules.
Will your dog’s routine change?
How will your dog’s routine change when baby arrives? Think ahead and start making changes now. When you start to think about what will change for your dog – being fed at different times, having quiet time in the middle of the day while baby sleeps, walking alongside a pushchair and so on, you can understand it might be quite confusing. The key is to introduce these changes gradually now, so it’s not a shock when your new addition comes along. Some people start walking their dog with a pushchair before baby arrives and fill their homes with the sound of crying babies (lots of this on YouTube) so that their dog knows what’s coming.
Going back to basics
Bringing home a new baby is a magical experience and you should be looking forward to sharing this special time with your dog as a valued family member. This is much easier if your dog has good manners and knows their commands. If not – teach them now! The basics they should know, as well as coming when called, are: sit, down, stay, drop it and leave it. With just these five commands you’ll be able to tell your dog to lie down while you feed, wait outside the nursery and leave the baby’s things alone.
It should go without saying that if your dog has any serious behavioral problems, such as aggression, now is the time to seek professional help, so that everything is as it should be when you bring your baby home. You may also wish to get professional help for issues that you haven’t been able to overcome yourself, such as separation anxiety. It can often feel like there is so much to do and prepare for during your pregnancy, but bear in mind that you’ll be so much busier when you have a newborn to care for and by ironing out any problems now you won’t have to face the devastating outcome of having to rehome your dog as you can’t cope with them and the newborn.
Are you looking forward to welcoming a new addition, or do you have any photos of your dog and children together? We’d love to hear from you.