With my due date around the corner, I’ve started doing some reading on how to transition a new baby into my busy dog household. Crowning the name “fur babies,” my pooches have always been just that. So, the idea that they will have to share centre stage with a new baby has me a bit concerned, and my dog mom mode has set in. With a rambunctious Doberman and attention thriving Chihuahua, the search is on to find the most efficient way to transition my already busy household to one that will be even busier!
With some of the reading I’ve done and general knowledge of dog behaviour, the number one pointer I have picked up is to make a gradual change in your dog’s routine. Dogs thrive on routine and predictability. The life of her owner will change drastically, its safe to assume that of the dogs will also change drastically. For example, things like when the dog is walked or fed. If you can get a head start on changing their routine slowly may aid in a more natural transition when the baby comes home. Another interesting point to note is getting your dog used to the baby sight and smells. The idea of walking an empty stroller while pregnant sort of threw me off, however, it’s better to train your dog to walk nicely along the side of a stroller, especially without a baby in it.
This tip I have adapted since finding out I was pregnant. Every piece of baby equipment I have brought into the house I have left assembled in a common area so that both my fur babies could become accustomed to the sight of a swinging chair or playpen. I also encouraged calm behaviour around the items by rewarding with a treat. We have also practiced rocking and changing a plastic baby doll, and limiting time on furniture, while trying to train our two to ask for permission before jumping up – this one is still a work in progress.
Another tip that I found helpful was providing your dog with a “safe” space. A lot of emphases seems to be focused on training our dogs to accept a baby, but when it comes times, it is our responsibility as both parents and dog owners to train our babies to be respectful of our dogs. When things get crazy and noisy (which they will) dogs should have a safe retreat from the hustle and bustle; a place that’s quiet and safe from children. It is also important to teach our infants not to pull, prod, kick or take from our dog’s mouths. Although some dogs may appear comfortable with acting like an infant sofa, 26% of dog bites occur in children 0-2 years of age and 33% of dog bites occur in the home. Learning dog body language ahead of time may help aid in noticing signs of stress in your 4-legged friend. In all, the most valuable piece of information I took from this learning experience was to not forget about your fur babies. Its all about balance, and providing love and attention to the best of our ability to everyone in the household. This makes for strong human-animal bonds among the existing relationships as well as new ones that form between our children and our animals. It’s easy to forget in the weeks following a new baby about our first babies, but try and remember “your dog might be part of your life, but to him, you are his whole life.” Check out our recent blog post for a list of helpful hints provided by the American kennel club that I felt best summed up the key points.
Written by Sam Bruno, RVT