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Preparing Your Dog For A New Baby Or Child Joining The Family
Preparing your Dog for a New Baby or Child joining the family

There can be mixed reactions from our pets when a baby joins the family: from excitement and wanting to be involved at every stage to worry, fear or ‘jealousy’! I’ve included the ‘jealousy’ as although dogs don’t have an understanding of being jealous in the way we do they can show signs of feeling left out absolutely!

With over 12 million pet dogs in the UK this equates to around 31% of households having at least one dog. There has been a 26% increase in dog bites to adults and children in UK since the pandemic and bites very rarely come out of nowhere but can be how a dog communicates that they do not like the situation they are in or are stressed or overwhelmed by sounds, scent etc.

There are many ways we can prepare our current pets for a baby – especially our dogs as they tend to be more part of the family morning, noon and night so the new addition is likely to affect them more than if you have chickens outside or hamsters inside. Consider your dog’s senses; they have better hearing, sight and hugely better scenting abilities. Something that changes suddenly with a new baby are things that affect the senses such as new scent with baby lotions, talc, creams etc. By ensuring you have several of these way in advance you can be using them on yourself so your dog is used to the fragrances as even ‘fragrance free’ has a scent!

Reducing the amount of changes that our dogs experience close together can help dogs feel worries which in turn helps lower the risk of a bite – although there are many more factors that can contribute.

Set up things like a cot, baby stroller, baby gates etc with your dog there too so they can see them appearing and be part of the construction so they are doing something with you! You can also occasionally wear things like a baby carrier or clothes you’ll be wearing as a new parent incl towels over the shoulder so your dog can see these and accept them as normal.

Baby sounds can be played while your dog is doing something they enjoy such as playing with toys, having a fuss from you, interacting with their favourite visitor etc so hearing a baby becomes something familiar and positive. This also applies to sounds from baby toys and equipment like baby monitors, lullaby toys etc. Don’t forget children’s programmes on tv or YouTube on your phone are likely to have lots of unusual and higher pitch sounds so although they might not be used for a little while it could be useful to play while you do things with your dog before your baby is old enough.

It may sound daft, but it can actually help dogs that are particularly attached to you to see you carrying a doll here and there while you check to see what you might want to teach your dog to do while you are carrying, feeding or changing your baby in the future. This could be teaching them to not jump up, to settle while you have your baby on a changing table or to leave a dirty nappy you are dealing with! It also gives you a chance to work on helping your dog to learn to do things you ask while your hands are full so you can still include your dog by asking them to do their favourite things like fetching a toy, settle on the bed or even some tricks!!

Dogs can feel left out suddenly with attention going to the baby from the family and visitors so ensuring they get a little time with you still is important. Even a short walk with them, playtime in the garden or some grooming or massage with just you can really boost their self confidence that the baby isn’t taking you for themselves! When they feel left out this can be where jumping up to see the baby starts, or barking for attention, or stealing baby items as we chase them for it! Ensuring our dogs still have time with us and acknowledging when they are ‘helping’ with the baby really helps them feel part of things still.

If your dog is really uncomfortable with the new baby being there, possibly not settling, or never wanting to be in the same room etc then seeking help from an experienced positive trainer will help your dog and your baby be able to live together harmoniously and even become friends growing up! Help will be nearby if you search for reward based dog trainers and many of us are accredited and have many years experience helping in these areas plus can see you in person or online so even if you live somewhere rather remote there’s help available for you!!

Enjoy your dog while you are awaiting your babies arrival and continue to enjoy your dog once your family has grown! This advice can also be used if you will be having family to stay who have children l or you are perhaps going on a holiday in a cottage with people who have children your dog isn’t used to.

Article Author

Canine Fitness and Tricks Training 


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