A pregnancy can change your whole life. All of a sudden you’re thinking about taking care of another person, the future seems a whole lot brighter and you’re probably a little (or very) stressed about the idea of giving birth.
However, a positive pregnancy test doesn’t just change your life, it changes your pet’s life as well. A four legged friend who has had the undivided attention of their parents will go from being the baby of the house to feeling displaced by a bundle of joy.
While dogs and children can have a wonderful relationship, the initial transition period might be a bit hard. As new parents will have a lot on their minds when the baby finally arrives, it’s important to train pets before the baby arrives.
As it takes a while for dogs to learn new concepts and develop different routines, the more prep time the better. This way, when the baby arrives, your dog knows all about the new boundaries. All of which helps them become a better protector and older sibling.
A 5 step guide to preparing your pet for the arrival of a baby
For most people, a furry animal is their first baby. They get treated to snuggles on the couch, copious amounts of playtime, snacks and hours spent walking the neighbourhood streets or running around the dog park.
As your first baby, it’s understandable that when a real life baby comes along, dogs feel a little left out and forgotten. These feelings can cause dogs to act out in a variety of different ways, whether it’s excessive barking or chewing up their beds.
To ease the transition, it’s always best to take a few steps towards preparing pets for a baby’s arrival. This way, they have the time to adjust. While this process can be time consuming, the bond that forms between your human and fur babies will last a lifetime.
1. Start with basic training
Basic training such as obedience lessons teach dogs how to appropriately interpret the different environments that they might find themselves in. It teaches dogs to be confident in all sorts of situations, rather than just acting out.
By having basic training, your dog knows what is expected of them and what they can and can’t get away with. A well behaved dog is more likely to listen to their owner’s instructions when it comes to not jumping up on the baby’s bassinet or not licking the baby’s face.
2. Include your dog in your pregnancy
Dogs are very intuitive, this means they will know you’re pregnant- sometimes before you even know! With this in mind, it’s important to include your dog in your pregnancy. Otherwise they will associate the baby with being left out.
Including your dog in your pregnancy is actually quite simple. Let them be around the baby bump and lay with you during periods of morning sickness or downtime. This way, your dog can bond with the baby before he or she is even born.
3. Introduce the dog to other children
Children make a lot of noise. Often, these noises and commotions are things that dogs have never experienced before. To prevent your dog from being fearful, take your pet to a park with kids or over to your friends house so their kids can play with your dog.
This kind of exposure gets your dog used to the idea of kids screaming, talking loudly and running around the house. They might be scared or apprehensive at first. However, by the time your baby comes they will be well adjusted.
4. Simulate life with a baby
Life with a baby can be hectic. You’re constantly carrying another person in your arms, transporting them from room to room, place to place. Your dog may never have seen you carrying something before and in response, may jump up and down.
To stamp out this behaviour, begin carrying a doll around the house. Don’t yell at your dog not to jump up- this will only make them associate the baby with getting in trouble. Instead, everytime your dog sits patiently, offer them a treat and verbal praise.
5. Create a new normal
When the baby arrives there will be less doggy play time. While not intentional, dogs do tend to get left behind when a new baby enters the house. There just simply isn’t the time for countless pats and multiple walks.
To prepare for this transition, cut back on time spent with your pet before the baby arrives. This doesn’t mean ignoring them. Rather, participate in quality activities together rather than just small activities. This way, your dog can get used to not having your undivided attention.
The benefits of growing up in a house with a pet
The idea of managing a pregnancy and preparing a dog for this new reality seems like a task too big to manage. However, by taking the time and putting in some effort before the baby arrives, you can eliminate a lot of worry.
It’s also worth noting that, as kids age, they benefit greatly from sharing a home with a dog. In fact, kids are less stressed when there’s a dog at home. Additionally, a dog’s unwavering companionship also helps shy kids thrive.
Importantly, having a dog at home can teach kids basic life skills from a young age. By being partly responsible for caring for a dog, kids learn responsibility. A pet’s need for exercise will also encourage kids to be active.
By having a pet, kids benefit both mentally and physically, in the short and long term. Highlighting how training a dog to prepare for a new baby, while stressful and time consuming, is ultimately the right decision in the long run.
Introducing your fur baby to your new baby
When having a baby there are so many different things to plan for and consider. While 9 months seems like a long time, it can go by in the blink of an eye. So, it can sometimes mean that preparing your dog for the baby’s arrival gets overlooked or forgotten altogether.
Unfortunately, this can often lead to a lot of added stress, something that a new mum and dad simply don’t need. So, to enjoy baby bliss without worrying about your dog acting out, take some steps to prepare for bub’s arrival early.
Firstly, make sure to include your dog in the pregnancy as much as possible. By helping your dog feel included, they can begin bonding with the baby quite early. From there, make sure to set appropriate boundaries.
By taking the time to train and prepare your dog before bub’s arrival, you can ensure that both your fur baby and human baby can co-exist. This in turn lays the foundation for them to build a bond that will last a lifetime.