Bringing a new child into your life is a huge change. Whether it is from birth or adoption. Not only is this a large change for you, but for your dog as well! Making sure they are prepared as possible helps set them up for success. Here is a list of steps you can take for preparing your dog for a baby.
Set Everything Up
There are going to be a lot of changes happening within your home now that you have a new family member on the way. One of the best ways to get your dog used to these changes is to have all your new furniture and gadgets set up around the house. Waiting until too close to the baby’s arrival to set up new furniture and baby items can be too much change at once for a dog.
As Amazon starts delivering your new goodies, set them up immediately. Make sure you place the item where it will be when you come home with your new baby. Allow your dog to investigate the item on their terms. If your dog does something that isn’t ideal, like jump on the item, make sure to redirect them not to do that. If they approach and handle the new item appropriately, praise them!
There are a lot of baby gadgets that have movements and sounds. It is important that your dog gets familiar with these items before a baby is using them. Turn on the baby swing, play the noise maker, turn on each noisey toy. Reward your dog if they react appropriately! If they don’t get used to these noises and movements, they may react when the baby is using them which can create stress for your dog and the baby.
List of Items To Set Up:
- Changing Table
- Baby Swing
- High Chair
- Play Yard
- Baby Gates
Preparing Your Dog For a Baby with Boundaries
Setting boundaries is a huge step when preparing your dog for a baby. Especially if your dog has been the only pet in the home, making sure they can respect your space is necessary.
Some dogs are extremely cuddly and always want to be in your lap. Once the baby comes, your dog may not want to share the space. Or even try to remove the baby from the area to gain more attention.
When on a couch or chair, teach your dog to ask to join you on the furniture. This is very easy. Sit on the couch, ask your dog to sit in front of you on the floor, have them wait a few seconds, give them a “yes” and pat the couch, inviting them up onto the furniture. Practice this several times a day and the dog will start to learn to ask, with a “sit”, to join you. This way if you are on the couch with the baby, the dog will ask to join you both on the furniture.
As you are teaching your dog to ask to come up on the furniture, make sure that they are respectful of your space on the furniture. Have them lay down in their own spot, next to you. If the dog tries to get into your lap, say “uh oh” and remove them from the furniture. After a minute or two, start over with them asking to join you on the furniture.
It is also good practice to have some couch time without the dog. Give them their own place on the floor. Either on a dog bed or blanket. Reward them as they stay in their own place while you relax on the furniture.
In The Home
With the arrival of a new baby, there may be areas of the house that you may not want the dog to have access to. For example, the nursery. Ahead of time, set up a baby gate at the doorways of anywhere you don’t want the dog to go. To make the gate extra secure, utilize Baby Gate Wall Protectors. Make sure your dog respects the doorway but not trying to knock down or jump the gates. Reward anytime the dog allows you through and stays behind. Make sure you have gates that are high enough so jumping isn’t encouraged.
If you are okay with the dog being in the nursery, make sure to set boundaries for behavior. The nursery should be a calm space for the dog. Anytime the dog tries to play or get rowdy, say “uh oh” and remove them from the room. This way they will start to learn that playtime is not happening in the nursery.
Schedule Crate Time
Once the baby arrives there may be times that mom and dad have to give their undivided attention to the new kiddo. Sometimes a dog can be a little shocked by this because they may be ignored for a short time. Especially if they have been the only baby before!
Before the baby comes, start scheduling some alone time for your dog. Give them time in their crate by themselves while you do some house chores. This does not need to be hours on end, even 15 minutes here and there helps create independence. While they are in their crate, make it a positive situation by giving them an enjoyable crate treat. Practicing this routine will help the dog transition into some alone time when the baby comes and the family just needs some space.
Play Baby Noises
This is probably the most thought of training tool when it comes to preparing your dog for a baby! Everyone has seen the videos of dogs listening to baby noises and their silly reactions. But this definitely works!
Youtube has a lot of different video clips of all baby noises. Coos, cries, screams, giggles. You name it they got it. Each day pick a new noise and play the video while the dog can listen in. Start with the volume low and increase the volume as the dog is non-reactive. If the dog becomes curious, you can allow them to investigate and reward them as they redirect themselves.
If your dog is reacting overly fearful or reactive with any level of noise with any baby sound. Seek a trainer immediately to get the dog prepared for the new baby.
Use A Fake Baby
As long as your dog is doing fine with the baby noises, then you can start pairing that exercise with using a fake baby. You can either get a baby doll toy online or ask other mom’s on social media if they have a doll you could borrow.
The best practice would be to simulate as if you were coming home from the hospital. Leave the home and place the doll in the infant car seat. When you enter the home, make sure your dog respects your space and stays away from the car seat. They should only approach when told to do so. When the dog is calm and you are ready, release them to sniff the baby doll. Make sure they do not get overly sniffy. If they are overly interested, redirect them to focus on you and leave the baby doll alone.
After that step, leave the baby in the car seat and out of reach from the dog, but leave the line of sight open. Then start playing those baby noises. The best way to simulate the baby noises would be to play them from your phone and place the phone in the car seat with the baby doll. As the dog does well with this exercise, move the baby to other places they will make noises. The crib, Pack-N-Play, baby swing, bassinet.
Invite Babies Over
As all dogs and humans are doing well preparing your dog for a baby, inviting friends over with children can be the real test to how your dog will do. Not only will an actual baby have noises but they will also include movement. Make sure your dog respects the baby’s space like practiced with the fake baby. Allow them to approach and sniff only when told to. Ideally, you would want the baby to be able to move about with your dog in a calm state in the same room.
At any time, if you see your dog become reactive or overly fearful, separate everyone immediately and get a trainer involved as soon as possible.
Continuing with Training
Like any other new occurrence in your dog’s life, continuing with training is always beneficial. Either get a trainer involved or continue reading more posts on all things dogs and babies. Your next training step would be Introducing Your Dog To A Baby. Also make sure you are prepared for the hospital day by Creating A Pregnancy Plan For Your Dog.