The first baby – I’m talking about the fur baby, not the human baby – will be in for many changes once a newborn is brought home. Here are some tips from experts on how to prepare so that the first few days, weeks, and months go smoothly.
Heidi Ganahl, CEO and Founder of Camp Bow Wow, suggests some training first.
“Take a training class. If your dog has not been to training in a while, it is important to take a refresher course. There are many commands that will be extremely helpful for you to use when the baby arrives. You want to ensure that your dog is able to understand your requests and respond in a timely manner, so a refresher course will help both you and your dog,” she says.
Todd Handler, the owner of Hot Dog Collars, has a great info graphic about introducing a newborn to a fur baby.
He also says, “When baby comes home, ensure that the first meeting happens in a stress-free, quiet and safe environment. Keep your dog on a leash initially and make sure that every interaction is positive, with lots of petting, cuddling, and rewards. Ensuring that your dog is well-practiced in commands such as sit, stay, and so on, will make this process easier for everyone involved.”
Karen Krieg, the owner of Beltway Dog Training, offers this tip so that the dogs (and mama) can become accustomed to strolling babies around.
“Having a baby can be extremely stressful on many dogs, particularly since the household schedule will be changing dramatically, and most dogs rely on a schedule to help keep them happy and secure. Start walking your dog with the stroller before the baby comes so that you have an idea of how to handle a stroller and a dog at the same time. Some dogs need time to adjust to the stroller being present on walks, but primarily it’s for the parents to learn how to navigate a stroller and a dog, keep the dog to one side during the walk so that they don’t get caught under the wheels, and more importantly, don’t pull the stroller over by accident!”
Krieg also reminds parents of spending quality time with pets. “Once the baby is home, don’t ignore your dog,” she says. “They are social animals and need our love and structure. If we ignore them in favor of the baby or forget to spend even a few quality minutes a day with our dogs, we run the risk of having them lash out with behavioral issues (like peeing on the baby’s bouncy chair). Take the time to work with your dog, and spend time loving them.”
Debra Holtzman, a child safety and health expert and the author of The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living, encourages parents to plan ahead to make pets comfortable with a new baby in the house.
“Get the dog used to baby sounds before the infant arrives,” she suggests. “Prepare a recording of a baby crying (your friends can help with this), and play it for the dog. Also, before the baby comes home from the hospital, allow the dog to sniff items the baby has used, such as an undershirt. That way the dog will become familiar with the baby’s smell and be less curious when the newcomer arrives.”
With these tips the new baby and family dog will be BFFs in no time!
By Dana Hardek, Macaroni Kid Stork