So you’ve got a baby on the way, congratulations! This is such an exciting time period for moms, dads, and furry siblings. They can sense your joy and see that changes are being made to the home, but they’re not exactly sure of what’s to come next.
Instead of abruptly interrupting your pup’s established routine, keep the harmony by working to ease into the transition a few months prior to the arrival of your infant. This way, it’s not such a shock to the system when their schedule is altered and new boundaries are set in place.
What’s Yours Is Mine…Unless It’s the Baby’s
The funny thing about children’s toys is that they often resemble the ropes and balls your dog likes to play with. They squeak, rattle, they’re filled with stuffing, and have the perfect texture for chewing. However, the last thing you want is to walk into a room and find your pup gnawing on a bottle nipple like it’s a piece of Bubblicious gum.
While you’re hanging out at home, set out a couple of baby items in obvious locations. When your dog shows interest, begins to lick, or attempts to pick up the toy or object, give them a stern “shh!” or “no!”
When they turn away, use positive reinforcement by reminding them of their own toy through light play and praise.
Through repetition, your dog will be able to make out the difference between what belongs to them, and what belongs to the baby just as they did with your belongings. This subtle, crucial step will not only prevent infant and pup from swapping saliva, but it’ll also prevent confrontation.
What’s That Sound
The sound of a baby crying can be rather unnerving to a canine that has never really heard it before. Heck, it’s unnerving to most parents! All your dog knows is that this little creature you’ve brought home makes a sound that’s unfamiliar, and repetitive…almost like the meow of a cat. Only, it’s a distressed cat that hollers at all hours, and at random times of the day.
Help manage your pup’s confusion by getting them adjusted with a video or recording of a crying baby. Start by playing short segments a couple of times each day, and gradually increase the frequency and length of time. Be sure to place the device in the baby room and areas that you know your child will be sleeping, playing, and living in.
It’ll be a daily reality in just a few short weeks; the sooner your pup gets used to it, the better.
Making New Friends
Look for opportunities to socialize with young children, and consenting parents, of course. Babies are one thing, but soon enough they’ll be walking, talking, touching, and interacting with the world around them. Your dog will be eye-level with this growing toddler, so it’s important that they are gentle and tolerant.
We want our fur babies to understand that children sometimes shriek or make sudden movements, but they don’t always require a reaction or response. It’s just what kids do.
Obviously this last step is dependent upon your dog’s comfort level and your ability to gauge how much stimulation is too much. As your child gets a bit older don’t forget to teach them that Fido has boundaries, too. It hurts when you pull on his ears or tail, but it feels good when you rub his belly.
Safety should always be the number one priority!