The arrival of a new baby into your family can be an exciting but uncertain time – especially for your dog. By making some preparations in advance you can help your dog get used to the much-anticipated new arrival.
It’s important to make time for your dog so they don’t feel pushed out when the baby arrives. You’ll still need to walk and play with them. Babies can be all-consuming, so if you’re struggling for time get a friend, family member or dog walker to help you out.
If there are going to be rooms that your dog will be excluded from when the baby arrives, prepare them for that early on by introducing baby gates as soon as you can.
Make sure your dog is well trained. Work on their lead training so you’re able to walk your dog and a pushchair. Practice useful commands such as sit, stay and leave. Train your dog not to jump up at people.
Your dog may find everyday baby situations hard – screaming, crying or arm waving can trigger an unexpected reaction in your dog. If you feel your dog may be worried by the noise of the baby crying, try getting them used to the noise before you have the baby. ‘Sounds Soothing’ is a CD that can be a helpful tool for preparing your dog for the characteristic sounds and noises a baby will make, including crying and children playing.
Let your dog meet and sniff the new arrival. Try and quell your nerves as he might sense this. Remember, you’re in control. Be calm but set boundaries – the baby is not for nibbling, licking or jumping on. Be careful but not overly so – you know your dog and how much you can trust him.
Try to include your dog in the process of adjustment. If they seem restless or worried when you’re feeding the baby, ask them to sit or stay beside you and offer them toys or treats. This way, they come to associate the experience as a good one.
Try not to keep the dog and baby separate at all times – they need to be aware of one another. But never leave a young child unsupervised with a dog, no one has eyes in the back of their head.
Be aware of potential hazards. For example, don’t leave your baby in a high chair or cot where your dog could knock it over.
For more information on keeping children safe around dogs, see our advice article here.