Your dog has always been the center of your universe, but now you are expecting a new baby and wondering how your dog will feel about sharing your time and attention. Since dogs are so sensitive and intuitive, perhaps you’ve already noticed some changes in your pup’s behavior.
Either way, there are some things you can do to help make the transition easier on you and your dog.
Reinforce obedience training.
Before your new baby arrives is the perfect time to identify any bad doggy manners. Perhaps your pooch is not as obedient as he once was or his sit/stay has turned into a ‘sit till I feel like it and resume play’ routine. Whatever the case, by reinforcing your dog’s basic obedience skills now, you will help make introductions go safer and smoother. At minimum, your dog should keep four paws on the floor, sit, stay, down and be able to control his excitement around the baby and all the company that will be visiting.
Tolerating new touches.
It will not be long before your new baby is reaching out to touch your pooch so start conditioning your dog to this type of touching beforehand. Touch your dog similar to the way your baby will by handling his ears, paws, nose, grabbing his fur, and giving friendly pokes so that he is accustomed to this style of touch. If you think any of this type of touching is uncomfortable for your dog, begin rewarding your dog for tolerating the increased touching with plenty of treats and praise.
Let your dog explore the nursery before the baby comes home.
When you’re setting up the nursery, let your dog explore all the interesting new scents, lotions, powders, furniture, blankets, clothing, toys, hamper, car seat, and all the other baby paraphernalia that will now be part of your everyday life. This will cure your dog of his curiosity over these new things and help ensure your dog does not become over excited, like a child on Christmas morning, when the baby comes home and all the baby gear is now in use. If possible, before the baby comes home, you may even let the dog sniff something that has your new baby’s scent on it.
Teach your dog to stay out of the nursery.
During these scent explorations into the nursery, also teach your dog to sit at the door and never enter without your permission. This will come in handy during those moments when your dog will not be welcome inside, such as when trying to change an extra dirty diaper or cleaning up a mess. Every time you enter the nursery, have your dog sit at the door until he is released to come inside.
Provide a safety zone.
Even before your baby is home and mobile, it is a good idea to give your dog a safe, comfortable place to rest, chew a bone, or just get away from the commotion that can accompany a baby. This should be a pleasant, permanent retreat for your dog, which your baby will not be able to crawl into.
When the time comes to bring your new baby home, ask a friend or relative to take your dog out for some exercise. More than likely, your dog will be excited because he’ll know something is up and sense the changes in the air. After all, when you get home from the hospital, not only will you have a new baby with you, he’ll be very excited to see you too. If your dog is tired out from exercising, he will have also burned off some of his nervous energy and will be much calmer. Go ahead and have a happy reunion with your dog so that he is calm when meeting your baby for the first time.