A dog is a lifelong companion. They're always by our side to watch over us, comfort us, and make us laugh whenever we're feeling down. Growing up alongside a beloved furry family member is one of the fondest childhood memories many of us have. For new parents, the excitement of introducing their furbaby to their new human baby is a joyous occasion. That's why it is important that you prepare your dog for your new baby beforehand.
The road to becoming best friends forever isn't always as perfect as a story book. Many new parents struggle with the anxiety of introducing dogs to a new baby. After all, a baby is a big lifestyle change for the whole family. We've put together a few practical suggestions for making the adjustment a little easier on you and your pet.
Learn more about what your dog can expect when you're expecting with Loyal Canine Co. These steps will help you prepare your dog for a new baby.
First Day of School Jitters
Even the best natured breeds can be a lot to handle at times! Playful, hyperactive pups can easily knock over or accidentally injure small children. A new baby in the household may be exciting, but kids can also be overwhelming and a bit scary for your dog. Little fingers like to grab, pinch, and pull while adjusting to strange, alarming noises is often frightening for dogs. Every parents worst fear is a startled dog turning to snap or growl at their tiny human companion!
Leave your Cujo nightmares at the horror movies and rest assured with the power of obedience training. Puppy school isn't simply for learning commands; it's a safe place for your dog to learn calm behaviors. House manners are the most important skill you can proactively teach your dog prior to a new baby entering the scene. These skills will help prepare your dog for a new baby.
Basic commands such as sit, stay, and down will be especially helpful when introducing your dog to the new member of the family. Leash manners are also a bonus for busy parents who don't want to play a game of tug-of-war between stroller and dog! Most importantly, proper behavioral training teaches dogs appropriate socialization skills and establishes a reliable, consistent pattern that pet parents and soon to be human parents can count on.
With a little practice, any dog can have an even temperament and become a regular canine super nanny.
Plan a Puppyshower for Your Dog and Baby
This can be a fun way to prepare your dog for a new baby. Involve your dog in the new baby preparations. Let them sniff around the nursery, show them the baby's blankets, toys, and clothes, and allow them to explore any new areas prior to the baby's arrival. Teach them which areas are off limits such as cribs and play mats and use positive reinforcement with treats and plenty of praise to reward calm behaviors. This will help your dog to associate the new arrival with good vibes!
Have some friends or family members with young children? Plan a playdate with your dog so that he or she can get used to being around toddlers. Most dogs are quick to warm up to tiny humans after they get over the initial confusion and skepticism associated with strange, new sounds, quick movements, and new (sometimes stinky) smells.
For added fun, include your furbaby in your pregnancy announcement photos and let the world know they're eagerly awaiting their new "sibling."
Stick to a Routine
Routines are the the best way to prepare your dog for a new baby. Parenthood can be hectic, not only for you, but for your pets as well. Sticking to a firm routine is one of the best ways to help your dog adjust. It can be tempting to give in to the chaos and chuck the daily schedule into the bin along with the diapers, but a clear order to each day keeps everyone in the household on track.
Sudden changes are scary for animals, often causing bad behaviors as a result of anxiety such as furniture chewing or pottying indoors. Be sure to stick to your normally scheduled times for walks, feeding, grooming, and cuddle time as much as possible. Involve the new arrival in these activities so your dog begins to see that their tiny human is a part of their world.
Before long, your growing family will love going for jogs and enjoying Saturday morning pancakes together. Your dog will soon discover twice the hugs, twice the playtime, and twice the dropped food with a tiny human around!
Security Blankets Aren't Just for Babies
Like all siblings, dogs and their tiny humans sometimes need time apart. Creating safe spaces for your dog to get away from the noise and chaos is essential when it comes to reducing their anxiety and maintaining peace. When baby proofing, consider areas where your toddler won't have access and place your dog's bed and food bowls in these spaces. Crates can be useful in establishing a "den" for your dog that is large enough to comfortably move around, but snug enough to feel secure.
Outdoor areas are also a good option if a fenced yard or patio allows for some sunbathing time sans children. This allows for exercise and mental stimulation away from the new little one. Your dog will appreciate having a moment to themselves and feel secure while surrounded by familiar scents like a favorite blanket, bed, or toy.
If your dog is having a difficult time adjusting to the change, a little extra TLC is never a bad idea. Spend additional one-on-one time with your dog in a calming environment, brushing, praising, and cuddling. This is also a great way for parents to steal a quick break while their baby is napping or while their partner in crime is on child care duty.
If you notice your dog's coat is looking a bit neglected, treat them to an extra spa day. Freshening sprays are a great way to promote canine health and wellness without the stress of a full bath. Essential oils like organic lavender and refreshing peppermint create an aromatherapeutic experience for anxious pups. Try a spritz on their coat or around their bedding to set the tone for a relaxed atmosphere.
With this information you can easily and successfully prepare your dog for a new baby. With a little time and patience, your growing furever family can look forward to this new and exciting adventure! Share your sweetest "sibling" moments with us on social media and enjoy the journey.