Parents often ask me, what they should do to help their dog adjust to the arrival of a new baby. I’d like to share with you some of my advice.
There are many different circumstances but the outcome mostly depends on the family’s understanding of their dog and in the making of a good plan that everyone will follow.
Some people are happy for the dog to carry on as it has always done, others want to make big changes just before the baby arrives. This can unsettle your dog and trigger problems almost straight away.
The best way to integrate a new baby into your dog’s life is to start as soon as you know your little one is on the way. Dogs can feel rejected and become confused and stressed when their owners suddenly change their routine, and shift their attention from dog to baby. They do not understand why the baby has automatically been put above them in the pack. They can start to develop some attention seeking behaviours such as barking, jumping or chewing.
• Decide on the rules you will have in place for your dog well before the baby arrives. Will the dog be allowed on the couch, bed or in the baby’s nursery? The nursery may also be your bedroom to begin with. If you decide put new rules in place or “no-go” zones, start to make the changes several weeks or months before the baby arrives.
• Get your dog used to new things that are associated with a new born such as the pram, baby’s toys, and baby blankets. Walk with the pram and your dog before the baby arrives. Place baby blankets on the floor and tech your dog that they cannot go on them.
• After the baby is born, bring home a baby blanket or a piece of clothing to allow your dog get used to the baby’s scent.
• When you bring your baby home your dog will need to “touch scent” the baby to find out what it is. While another adult controls the dog on a loose lead, hold your newborn up high and let your dog sniff the baby’s bottom or feet. Keep the dog calm if the dog misbehaves or is too exuberant, address this behaviour.
• Allow your dog to get used to the baby. The more they are together the better behaved and less stressed your dog will be. However no newborn or toddler should ever be left alone in the same room with any dog.
Owners often worry that their dog is “too old to learn” or “too set in their ways.” I don’t find this is the case. We can make these experiences easy and stress free if a good plan is in place. Children must also be taught to respect a dog and that they must not be teased or purposefully hurt. At times the dog will also need its own space.
If you need help to teach your dog the correct behaviour and how to be calm and relaxed around babies and children, please contact one of our Bark Busters Dog Behaviour Therapist & Training professionals. We cover the South West Region, Peel & Rockingham Region, and the Northern and Southern Perth Regions. We look forward to hearing from you!