If you’re expecting a new baby, you’re preparing for some major changes in your life. These changes will inevitably affect your dog and you may be wondering how to prepare him for the new arrival. Getting your pup used to these changes early in your pregnancy will make the transition that much easier when you bring your baby home.
1. Resist Demands for Attention
When a new baby comes home, many of us assume it’s jealousy that causes changes in a dog’s behavior. That’s not always the case. You’re going to be kept busy with the babe and you aren’t going to have as much time to spend on your canine family member. That doesn’t mean he will be ignored, but you won’t be able to pat him when he wants it, or play with him as soon as he drops a ball in your laps.
To manage this, learn how to ignore your dog’s demands for attention. By all means give him a cuddle, and play with him, but do it at a time that works for you.
2. Get Him Used to Being Alone
This step is incredibly important for pet parents that have dogs that don’t like to be ignored. If your dog follows you everywhere and has a difficult time being away from you, you need to take the steps to change this behavior before the baby arrives. Give your dog a special area where he has a bed, a toy and a chew treat, so he doesn’t mind being there for a few minutes. Gradually increase the time he is away from you, while making it pleasant for him. This means when you need to do something with the baby in another room, you won’t have to worry about your pooch being under your feet.
3. Set Aside Time for Play
This is the logical follow up to the previous suggestion. Play is the best way to reinforce the bond you and your pup share. Dedicate at least 15 minutes each day to spending time with your furry friend. This can be playing outside or simply petting, massaging or brushing him. This time spent with your dog will reduce his stress and also show your pup that he is still an important member of the family.
4. Make Sure He’s Well Exercised
Ideally, dogs need on average an hour of exercise each day. Some dogs will require more or less, depending on their size, breed and any health conditions. A well-exercised dog is happy, content and less inclined to engage in destructive behavior.
5. Set Boundaries for Food
This is one of the most important things to do before your new baby arrives. If your dog begs for food or is a counter surfer, it may cause problems once you bring the baby home. It will be even worse when your child is a toddler and starts dropping food on the floor while eating dinner! Start out by putting him in his kennel or crate when the family sits down to eat. Be sure to give him plenty of praise each time he stays, and give him a chew treat or a stuffed Kong to keep him occupied while he is in there.
Never ever leave your dog alone with your child. Any dog is capable of causing injury and it’s just not worth the risk. If you have to leave your child anywhere, for example in a bassinette for a nap, take your dog out of the room with you.
Dogs and children can grow up into the best of friends, but it’s fair to say that it takes some time for adjustments to be made. Follow these suggestions and your dog will cope just fine with the arrival of your two legged puppy.