Having a baby can be a real challenge for anyone, and it’s no less for the dog. While it’s natural to want to give your dog as much attention as you can while you’re pregnant, things sometimes become more complicated once you have a baby. In fact, there are a number of ways to prepare your dog for baby and family. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your dog for your new addition.
First, if you’ve never had a baby before it’s a good idea to take a week or two off. While you probably are not a same-sex couple, the idea of having a baby is so new that your dog might need some time to adjust to it. A little extra preparation will make your dog’s transition to parenthood easier and happier.
If you find that your dog is overly anxious while you’re pregnant (actually, if your dog is anxious in general you might want to stop reading now — it’s making some pretty bad Precious snobbery, unnecessary.) you can start with this simple activity: You will want to put your dog on a leash or secure him in some way where he can’t get away from you. This will prevent him from making an elimination mistake when you’re not around. When you return to your daily routine, continue to put the leash on and let your dog drag it around, making sure it doesn’t become a toy. This will help the dog become accustomed to dragging the leash around as they expect ownership of the leash to follow the arrival of a new baby. This is similar to what you would do if you were expecting the child of a new baby as there would be changes in your routine.
If you decide to allow your dog to have some freedom when you’re going to introduce the baby, you’ll want to start out with short trips. If your dog is prone to anxiety, and you feel the need to ease him or her gently through these types of setbacks, allow your dog to do the majority of the early training with him or her in a calm setting. This allows you to train in a manner that is much easier for both of you.
Carrying the new baby can change your dog’s feelings toward you and toward the baby, as it’s very common for your dog to feel like he has to be protective when there’s a baby in the house, but there won’t be any need to start pawing at you once the baby arrives — and you should never count on this happening. It’s entirely possible that your dog will simply get over his over-consolation. But if you are allowing him to maintain his over-attachment to you regardless, be sure to help him do so in a way that shows him that there is nothing to worry or be upset about.
Young children can sometimes be a real challenge for dogs. Sometimes a dog simply doesn’t realize that they are being unbalanced and may hurt a child when they want to engage in rough play. So to prevent injuries, you may want to train your dog to avoid engaging in these types of behaviors at all. Tug of war, for example, is a game that some dogs absolutely adore, but that can actually give your child the upper paw in a tug of war situation. Another game that is often favored for children and dogs is hidden and seek. If you hide a treat or toy behind a couch or on a shelf, your dog will be able to hunt it out and get it without ever taking his eyes off the treat. This is a game that teaches trust and that while your dog has all these wonderful things to keep him busy, you need to trust him to do it on his own.
If there is one game that is by far my favorite for kids and dogs, it fetches. While I’m not a huge amateur who doesn’t mind throwing a stick or two for my dog, I teach my dog extremely well when it comes to avoiding my hands, and retrieving things for me. This is not so easy, but my dog can learn to give me that special look — the one with the ears back, teeth bared, and tongue out, ready to meet me wherever it takes me.
My son has made it clear that he expects me to buy all the toys he has, and thus far, he’s met that goal with two rabbits and a guinea pig. If he meets my requirements, he gets a Kong filled with peanut butter — he thinks this is a wonderful treat because, like the Kong, it’s hard to get. However, if I tell him to go get it, and it’s not within his expectation, then I give him a simple “outside” command as I point to the doorway, and point to his fluffy, wiggling self as I say “drop it”.