Preparing Your Dog For A New Baby

Everyone knows that having a baby changes everything about your lives. Your schedules, responsibilities and your household all change to accommodate a baby. Unfortunately, one thing that can get lost in the mix is your dog. Typically, dogs go from the center of attention or shared attention with other pets to being second to this new baby that they don’t understand.

This doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing to have pets in homes with babies. Your pet can have a wonderful relationship with your baby after getting used to the new setup of the family. However, parents have to make sure to put in the work to help your dog learn about the baby by adjusting their behaviors, expectations and habits at home.

Mom, The Loud Noise Won’t Stop!

Think about this from your dog’s perspective. All of a sudden, there is a new presence in the house that looks and smells like a small human. However, it behaves completely differently and doesn’t respond to the dog at all. Babies can be a jarring, unnerving presence to a dog that hasn’t been adequately prepared. These are the circumstances under which bad things can happen.

If you take the time to prepare in advance and create new habits, expectations and rules for your dog, the baby’s arrival will just seem like the next step in a process instead of a world turned upside down in one day.

Start Early and Stay Consistent

If the parents just bring home a baby with a bunch of equipment and the dog has to smell a hundred new things and be pulled out of it’s routine, it probably won’t be as receptive as it could be. The best time to start training your dog for what’s to come is when you get pregnant. You can do this yourself and use outside dog training help as well.

You have nine months to help your dog learn how the house is going to change. You can start by doing certain things like:

  • Give your dog a new eating space that is safe and private
  • Introduce them to the baby equipment like the nursery and other items
  • Enforce rules like furniture being off limits and no jumping on people
  • Learn or reinforce commands (sit, stay, no jumping, leave it)
  • Play baby sounds or crying sounds to desensitize your dog

If these rules are consistently being followed, adding a baby won’t be as big a shock. The dog will know that this is just the next step in the process. If your dog is already great with tricks and commands, you’re ahead of the game. But when you’re in the thick of things and the chaos gets overwhelming, it’s important to know you have a dog that will listen if you need it to sit, stay or stop barking.

Attention and Association

Even the smartest dogs in the world can’t understand certain things. We all know that just because you’re paying attention to a baby, that doesn’t mean you love your dog any less. However, if you don’t divide your attention the right way or make sure to involve your dog in the activities with the baby, you will create a negative association between you, the dog and them. This negative association can lead to trouble.

It is important to pay attention to your dog and have them be part of the proceedings safely. If you only pay attention to your dog while the baby is asleep, they will see the baby as negatively impacting their lives. Similarly, make sure to associate the smell and presence of the baby with positive love, attention and reward for your dog.

Everything Will Be Ok in the End

Dogs are pretty adaptable, hearty creatures and they will eventually adjust to the new reality of the household if you do your part to help them and make things easier. If you have questions about helping your dog adjust to a new baby or want to talk with an animal behaviorist or veterinarian to learn more, contact us today at Riverside Animal Center. Our experts have helped families from all walks of life with the changes that are a natural part of life.