How to Prepare Your Dog for a New Human Arrival
Published on Thursday, 28 October 2010
You have a dog and you plan to have a baby soon. What should you do to prepare your dog for the arrival of a new family member?
Here are some tips:
1. Enrol your dog for a basic obedience course as early on as possible. Dogs that have been through obedience courses are much easier to handle and this will be essential when your baby arrives. Obedience courses also help owners form close bonds with their dogs.
2. Consider spaying or neutering your dog if you have not already done so. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered are less likely to be territorial or display aggressive behaviour. Spaying and neutering also gives your pet a longer life span and reduces the risk of cancer.
Before your baby’s arrival:
1. If you want to keep your baby’s room out of bounds to your dog, start restricting him from entering the room months in advance. You can begin by closing the room door whenever you are not around to supervise your dog. Next, start closing the door throughout the day and do not allow your dog to enter the room even when you have entered it. The key is to make your dog realise that the room is not part of his territory, so he will not feel insecure or threatened when your baby moves in. Another option would be to install a screen door or a removable gate for the room, so that your dog can still see what is happening in the room and will not feel isolated.
2. Start trimming your dog’s nails regularly so that he can get used to nail cutting. You need to keep his nails short and well filed so that they don’t cause any injury, should he scratches the baby accidentally.
3. Sprinkle baby powder around the house, or apply baby oil on your skin so that your dog will not be startled or overwhelmed by new smells when the baby arrives.
4. Purchase a CD of baby noises, like crying and cooing, and play it in the house regularly. You can begin by playing the CD at a low volume first. If your dog does not display any major reaction to the noises, you can gradually increase the volume to a normal level. Whenever you play the CD or introduce new baby smells to your dog, reward him with a treat so that he will link baby sounds and smells to something that is enjoyable.
5. After introducing you dog to baby smells and sounds for a few weeks, ask a friend to bring their baby or toddler over to your house so that your dog can get used to the presence of a baby in your home. Do not rush him into interacting with the baby; you should let your dog do it at his own pace. All interaction between your dog and the baby should be supervised and successful interaction should be rewarded with a treat.
6. Talk to your dog about the baby and if you have already chosen your baby’ name, mention it frequently in the conversation.
After the baby is born:
1. Before you return from the hospital, get your husband to bring back one of the baby’s blankets so that your dog can get used to the baby’s scent.
2. When you return home from the hospital, amidst all the hustle and bustle, remember to greet your dog calmly and affectionately.
3. Once again, do not force any interaction between your baby and your dog. This should happen naturally. Always supervise any kind of interaction between your dog and your baby. Reward appropriate behaviour and interaction with treats.
4. With a baby at home, it may be difficult for you to find time to do the regular things you could do with your dog before. There will be many adjustments around the house but it is essential that you spend personal time with your dog everyday. Make sure that your dog is fed and brought for walks at his usual timings, so that he does not feel neglected and attribute it to the baby’s presence.