Bringing a baby human home can be an exciting and overwhelming time for everyone, including your pup.
That’s precisely why it’s important to consciously introduce your dog to the idea of a baby, before you introduce them to your baby.
Your dog’s entire world is about to change, and they need to be prepared for what’s to come.
Regardless of how well behaved your perfect mutt may be, failing to properly prep them for the arrival of a new baby, can lead to a potentially dangerous outcome.
In this part of a two-part article, we’re going to introduce you to three of six training tips that will ensure your dog transitions well from a baby-free to a baby-fied home.
Tip #1 - Structured Time Alone
If you’re anything like me, your dog is your first baby.
This means that they’re probably used to getting all of your attention.
Once your baby human enters the picture, that baby will also begin to get a lot of your attention. To your dog, it may seem like they’re losing it.
Jealousy may cause your dog to behave in an unpredictable and potentially dangerous manner.
Structured time alone ensures that your dog gets used to not being the centre of attention.
It also gets your dog accustomed to sharing your attention with other people and things, thereby eliminating jealousy.
Structured time alone, involves training your dog to interact with their toys and treats, without your assistance, even before the baby has arrived.
It involves for you to be in the same space as your dog, while directing your attention away from them, and their attention towards something else.
You can do this in three easy steps;
- Get them a toy worth their time and effort - I recommend the West Paw Quizle stuffed with a bully stick.
- Find something to do, that requires your undivided attention, or pretend that it does, and
- Every time your dog gets distracted and comes looking for your attention, gently direct them back to whatever they were doing.
Remember to experiment with different toys and treats, to see which ones work best at keeping your dog entertained.
Over time, your dog will realize that it’s ok for them to spend time alone, and leave you to yours as well.
A great way to balance this out, is to create some structured play time once the baby does arrive.
Dedicate that time to your dog, while your baby is in the room.
Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, it shows your dog that the baby is sharing your attention with them.
It’s never too early to start doing this, so go ahead and give it a shot!
Tip #2 - Desensitization To Noise
Desensitizing your fur baby to the new noises that come along with a human baby, helps minimize the risk of potentially dangerous reactions to those noises, from your dog.
Desensitizing your dog to new noises involves introducing them to baby noises, via recordings of real baby sounds - crying, cooing, screaming, etc. - before your baby has even arrived.
This can be done in two easy steps;
- Find a variety of recorded baby noises, and
- Play the audios with your dog in the room, and monitor their reaction to them.
- If your dog is inquisitive - turning their head and ears looking for the source of the noise - continue to expose them to these sounds until they’ve stopped reacting.
- If your dog reacts aggressively - starts growling, loud barking, etc. - contact a dog trainer immediately (we recommend Chantel, over at Boneheads K9).
Finding great audio recordings of baby noises is as easy as typing “audios of baby noises” into Google.
It generates a wealth of options. Try it now and see what you’ll find.
Tip #3 - Walking With A Stroller
Your dog is probably used to walking next to, in front of, and behind you, at any given time on your stroll.
Once you’ve got a baby around, you’ve also got a stroller to consider.
Teaching your dog to walk with a stroller helps you to avoid accidents caused by your dog knocking into, cutting off and/or jumping up onto it.
Teaching your dog to walk with a stroller involves taking the stroller out on your dog’s walks, before the baby has even arrived.
While on those walks, do these two things;
- Make lots of turns, stops, and maneuvers, so that your pup learns to anticipate the stroller’s movements and understand the amount of space it takes up, and
- Once your dog is comfortable with this, add a realistic looking doll to the stroller and begin engaging with it in the same ways as you would your baby.
If your dog is already trained on how to lose leash walk, teaching them to walk with a stroller will be a much easier task.
If not, we recommend you start there first.
If you’re waiting on the baby shower, before buying your stroller, or you’re just not ready to decide on the perfect one, and you wanna get a head start on this training, try to borrow one from a neighbour.
If that’s not an option, pick one up at your local thrift shop, via Letgo or on Craig’s list, and re-donate or re-sell it once yours comes in.
This way, you can start training your pup using this tip, now.
Adding a new bundle of joy to your family is a joyful time, it’s also an anxious time.
Having to worry about how your dog is going to react to your baby, can add unneeded stress to a potentially already overwhelming situation.
By preparing your dog beforehand - using all six tips noted in this two-part article - you reduce the risk of unexpected and unpredictable behaviours, ensuring a smooth transition from a baby-free to a baby-fied home.
Next week, we’ll uncover the three remaining training tips you’ll need to complete the transition. Check back with us next Tuesday for more.