Have you ever wondered how to prepare your dog for your newborn's arrival? According to Dr. Melissa, "You want to make sure that there’s a positive association between them and the baby. When the baby is getting lots and lots of attention, it's important to praise the dogs. The more they’re rewarded, the more positive they’ll feel about the new situation." In this short clip, Melissa provides her top tips on how to provide a loving home to the humans and fur-kids in your family equally.
For many people our dogs are our fur babies, and we just love giving them a lot of TLC. Often they’re also seen as good practice for when a human baby arrives. So how do you make a smooth transition from four legged children to having a human sibling joining the pack. It's important to think of them as siblings so that your dog is not being displaced or demoted. You want them to be best friends down the track.
When you first bring your baby home things can be quite stressful, and it does take some getting used to. So if your dogs are happy staying at a friend or family members place, it can help you and the baby settle in. It's also a good time to put on a dog appeasing pheromone collar to help keep the dogs calm during the transition. Mia and Monty had a sleepover for a week at my parents house, so when they arrived back home it was a calmer environment and less of a change for them.
It's important to give them a piece of the baby’s clothing straight after the birth, which will give them plenty of time to get used to the smell. Playing a CD with sounds of a baby crying while your pregnant can also help desensitize your dogs. Monty and Mia can even interpret Lucca’s cries accurately. When he’s really upset both of them come running to make sure he’s ok, diligently licking his toes and bringing him toys to try and cheer him up.
When it comes to the first physical introduction, my recommendation would be for the baby to be in another room with the partner or a friend. So mum can greet the dogs properly as they’ll be really really eager when she comes home. Then once they’ve calmed down bring bubs into the room, all the while talking to the dogs reassuringly and in a happy tone. You can even give your dogs a treat at that time. You want to make sure that there’s a positive association between them and the baby. When the baby is getting lots and lots of attention, it's important to praise the dogs. The more they’re rewarded, the more positive they’ll feel about the new situation.
Upon introducing them gauge the dogs reaction first. Let them smell the foot, and then gradually on their own terms they can work their way up to smelling the rest of the baby. However, if you’re unsure about how your dog will react, it’s worth having a qualified behaviourist work with you before the introduction. Remember babies and dogs should never ever be left unattended. Dogs can accidently walk on, knock or even scratch a baby without any intention of hurting them. Also babies can’t read dog body language and can be quite rough and annoying. Even the most placid fur kid may have warned your baby many times with a snarl or a turn back, and if they can’t escape if the proding continues, your dog may have no other choice but to nip the baby.
Involving your dog in their routine, especially night feeds can be a saviour, as it makes you and them feel less isolated. Most dogs love to help and take part in these duties and it gives them a purpose. It’s also very important that your dog has a safe place that they can go to. This may be your bed, their crate or anywhere that isn't accessible to the baby. From my experience, I have found Monty and Mia’s guarding behaviour increased when I was pregnant, and got more intense when Lucca arrived. So it’s important to keep up with some training. Importantly make sure their vaccination and help checks are up to date before bubs arrives, and that worming and flea treatments are maintained.
This is both an exciting and challenging time for the whole family, but if handled correctly and with love, then everyone should embrace the situation just fine.
For more useful tips on general health, wellbeing and pet care visit our HIF Pet Insurance webpage