As a lot of you would have seen from my Facebook post yesterday, we didn’t have a great time introducing our new baby into the home. I had prepared as much as I could and things still went a little haywire. This led me to think, if I’m a dog trainer and I panicked that much, no wonder people who don’t have that experience jump to re-homing their dog when the new addition arrives.
Bringing a baby home is a terrifying time. Not only do you have a completely helpless little being depending on you, you still have to run a house, look after the rest of the family and you are doing it all on NO sleep! Sleep deprivation can have the most confident and capable person reduced to a snivelling mess in the corner!!
So, this post is aimed at helping all the new parents out there that may be struggling with introducing a new bub to the home. These are just a couple of very general things you can do and by no means will suit every situation. If you are struggling, call your trainer to help you as soon as possible or that sleep deprivation thing may have you believing you are in a situation that is not actually happening.
1. If you need to change the living arrangements with your dog, do it before the baby comes home. For example, if your dog sleeps in your bed every night and you know it’s not going to be possible when the baby arrives, change the sleeping arrangements in the early stages of your pregnancy. Nothing will annoy a dog more than being booted out the day a new bub arrives home. Your dog isn’t stupid, it will figure out that this has happened because of the baby and this will lead to problems.
2. If you know you are going to be short on time when the baby arrives, start saving for a dog walker immediately or organize friends or family to do it for you. Your dog doesn’t understand that the world seems to stop for you and revolve around the baby. They still need exercise and stimulation and it will be chaotic if you have a dog that is used to it’s daily walk and all of a sudden this stops.
3. If your dog is used to sleeping inside and you want them to sleep outside when the baby arrives, give them the most comfortable bedding and kennel you can find. Keep the kennel close to the house and near where they can hear and see you. Dogs in general don’t like to be separated.
4. Ensure that when you are busy and exhausted, your dog still has activities to keep it busy in the yard. Kongs with food, bones, tugs hanging from trees etc. This will save your sanity when you are trying to squeeze in a nap. It will also help keep your dog stimulated.
5. If your dog is an inside dog, make sure it knows the rules clearly before the baby arrives. Have a bed that it needs to be on and make sure it is reliably trained. Also consider crate training. This helps keep the dog contained but make sure you are using the crate correctly. It is not a place to cage your dog for hours because you can’t be bothered. If you can’t manage either of those and the dog isn’t reliably trained, it needs to be on a lead.
6. Make sure your dog understands the command ‘Leave’. This has helped me considerably. If I don’t want the dogs near the bub for one reason or another a simple “leave” gives us all the space we need.
7. When introducing the baby, short introductions worked for us. 5 minutes here and there when the dog is CALM. When they weren’t having a sniff of her feet (from a foot or two away. They don’t need to be right on top of the baby to smell them, they have great noses), they had a treat on their bed in the lounge room. This way they got used to the noise and smells of bub and could see that everything they had come to know as normal was still happening but just with another person in the house (a noisy and smelly one!)
8. ALWAYS supervise the two. I know this goes without saying but when you need to go to the kitchen for a bottle and the dog is asleep on it’s bed and you think it will be ok to leave them, it’s not. No matter how trained or placid your dog is. It is never worth the risk.
9. Keep everything as positive as possible. It’s easy to panic and start grumping at the dog each time it’s near the baby. This will not help, your dog will end up seeing the baby as something negative. Stay calm, make sure the dog is calm and there is no danger to the baby.
10. I believe that the baby’s bedroom should be off limits. Some other trainers may disagree but for my dogs this works. They have never been allowed in her room so when I go in there, they will lie down just outside the door calmly.
11. Make sure everyone in the family is dancing to the same tune ALWAYS. It will only confuse the dog if everyone is doing something different and create unnecessary risk.
These are just a couple of things that can help but like I said before, if you are unsure or your dog has a history of being a bit snappy etc call your trainer. I hope this has helped 🙂
Happy days 🙂
Missy and Olivia @10 weeks. Not an easy road but one that was definitely worth it x