Your family is growing: you are about to become a parent. You are wondering if this new stage in your life could upset your dog, especially if this is your first child. If up to now, your dog was treated like a king at home, the big change could be a major upheaval in its life. Your dog’s daily routine being drastically affected, it is not unlikely that it could start misbehaving. Gublog is here to explain to you what steps to follow for everything to go as smoothly as possible and for your dog and baby to start becoming best friends in no time.
During the pregnancy: home preparations
It is important that your dog should not feel too sudden a change in its daily life and especially in the attention it is used to receiving. What with the arrival of a newborn, your pace of life and priorities will change; of course that is the most natural thing in the world! It is very important that you should embark on this new adventure well prepared and ready to anticipate all upcoming events. Pregnancy means waiting, and waiting means more time to start planning. Some people get into the wrong habit of treating their dog like a child, and let them do whatever they please in the house. Whether you are about to become a parent or not, this type of behaviour is never recommended. Despite all the love we can have for our furry ones, they need to have boundaries and an owner who knows when to be strict. Rules and orders to follow are good for dogs because it means having a structure, which is very reassuring for them. If you were used to giving in to everything, it is now time to start changing this bad habit. If this turns out to be too hard, don’t hesitate to ask for the help of a specialist (you can for instance ask your veterian to give you a referral to a dog trainer), especially if you are expecting a baby!
The birth of a baby will turn your organisation upside down and also bring (many) new objects into your home. You want to get a feeling of calm and normality across to your dog. Try enhancing its positive behaviour by rewarding it afterwards, rather than forbidding things in the first place. If you don’t want your dog to enter your child’s bedroom then you have to say no each time it tries to cross the threshold and then reward it when you have been obeyed. If you think that just shutting the door will do, bear in mind that sooner or later you will probably forget to close it. Let your dog smell the new objects in your house like the crib, the pushchair or baby’s toys, but always under your supervision. Smelling is your dog’s way of exploring the unknown, but if it becomes too insistent, don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t let it hog the baby’s objects, especially the toys. Do make sure you separate them from the dog’s toys to avoid potential hazards. But equally do not shroud your child’s arrival in mystery and rules. This must feel like a natural process, try not to convey your own stress to your dog.
It also of prime importance that your dog should feel like it is part of the process and not like it’s being left aside. If it was used to special treatment up to now, the change will be harsh. Whilst making sure you still observe the basic rules of dog training, preserve your dog’s personal space, all the while letting it be a part of the household’s activities. Give attention to your furry companion, make sure it always has access to water and that its meal, play and walking routines remain unchanged.
After the birth: at the maternity ward
During the days which follow the birth of a child, we spend more time at the maternity ward than at home. But don’t leave your dog home alone, it could feel left out and then react negatively to your baby’s arrival. You could ask a close relation to go to your house and take over from you as far as dog minding duties are concerned. If no one is available, you can get the help of a Gudog sitter in your area with the dog walking or doggy day care services. Make the most of the moments when the dad comes back home in the evenings to introduce the baby’s smell inside your home, with clothes, a cuddly toy or blanket belonging to the baby.
Going back home with your baby: making the introductions
The moment when you make the introductions is key as far as your dog’s adjustment to your baby is concerned, so do it well! Once you have arrived, do not rush over to your dog. Go inside casually and initially don’t pay attention to your dog. Once you feel it is calm, go over to your dog normally, whilst carrying your baby in your arms. You will need the help of another adult who will be in charge of attaching to your dog its collar and lead. The lead will come in handy should you have to quickly pull the dog away in case of a bad reaction. Make your dog sit and gently lower yourself to its level so that it can smell the baby. Never let the baby’s face close to the dog, start with the feet. Let your dog smell the baby for a few seconds and then pick yourself up slowly. Don’t make this moment too long, and if your dog starts to fidget, bark or growl, make it stop right away. Be firm and authoritative but don’t yell and especially don’t hit your dog. If this first introduction has gone well, you may reward your dog with a treat. Let a few minutes go by and once your dog’s attention has been diverted, you can start the operation again to make sure it’s all good.
The first months with your dog and your baby
During the first months of its life, your child will stay in its cradle, in your arms or in a baby bouncer. It isn’t (yet) time for exploring the outside world. Good for you! During this stage you will be able to control all contacts between your baby and your dog. Once the introductions have been made, you can start making sure that your dog links your child’s presence to positive elements. You can for instance take your child out with you during dog walks, but be careful never to tie the lead to the pushchair. Remember always to have treats within reach so that you can feed them to your dog every time the baby expresses itself. For example if it starts crying, try and convey instead to both of them a feeling of serenity. If you remain calm, your dog will be too.
Your child starts exploring the outside world
Unfortunately, accidents involving dogs and children often end up in the news. However it is important to remember one thing: there is no such thing as bad chilren or bad dogs. When accidents like those occur, it is because responsible adults have not been able to anticipate, teach good manners and protect. Even if your dog is a sweetie, never leave it alone in the presence of a young child. Your supervision mode must always be switched on. Children and dogs speak two different languages and a simple misunderstanding could lead to a tragedy. As soon as your child is old enough, teach them something essential: the respect for animals. A child should understand from a very young age that living beings need calm and space and that a dog is neither a toy nor a horse to be ridden. Let alone a cuddly toy that you can bother at any occasion. Tell your child to give the dog some peace, especially if the latter is eating or sleeping. Tell them also that even if the family dog is a darling with them, all dogs are different and your permission should always been granted before they can get close to a dog which isn’t your own.
A friend for life
Your child is no longer a baby, they have learnt to respect your dog, and certain habits have set in in your home. Say hello to a family life filled with shared moments and tenderness! Your dog will play a major part in your child’s cognitive and physical development; a new friendship is born. Did you know that children who have grown around pets have better immune systems? What’s more, being a part of a dog’s education from a young age enables children to get a sense of responsibility, sympathy and respect towards other species. If you have grown up with a dog you already know this: the adventures you’ve been through together have given a particular relish to your childhood, and although the family dog may no longer be by your side, you often recall these days of yore fondly. You are now the one passing on the torch to your child; make the most of this wonderful stage in your lives.