Before the newborn arrives, you have a lot of prepping for them and your pre-existing child: the family furbaby. Dogs are smart, so they’ll catch on to the fact that something is changing in the home relatively quickly. Furniture moves, new things are brought in, and the biggest change of all is a whole new human in the house!
It’s your job as a pet parent to remind them that they’re still important and to help them transition into this new chapter of their lives. You can help your dog understand that this change is a positive thing, not something to be concerned about. It’s true that some dogs and babies bond immediately, but you never know what will happen, so it’s best to follow safety best practices at all times.
Training Starts When You Find Out You’re Expecting
You should never wait until the last minute to start training. Each dog is different, and some dogs may need more individualized attention to understand certain concepts. Harmless things like jumping up to greet you when you walk in, or excessive loud barking can disturb a home with a new baby, or even create a safety hazard.
You want to give your dog ample time to absorb all of the training tools that you and their instructor have given them.
Months Before Baby’s Arrival
The most simple commands like sit, drop it, off, and leave it can be essential for keeping your baby safe around your pets. Dogs sometimes show excitement with their hyperactivity, so by training them early to release their excited energy in a healthy way you can keep a harmonious relationship between dog and baby in the house.
If you intend to restrict your dog from certain furniture, like the couch, while your child is in their infant/toddler stage, you must start training this as early as possible. You don’t want your dog to get jealous of the baby and associate the baby with restriction of previous luxuries, so teach them the “off” command with the furniture early, and invest in some extra comfy dog beds for them to replace their seat on the couch.
Weeks Before Baby’s Arrival
It’s important to remember that every dog is different, and what works for one family might not work for yours. That being said, a few general tips have worked for many families when transitioning their dog to life with a baby.
You can start by desensitizing your dog to baby sounds by playing a recording of crying babies around them well before your actual due date. Do this a couple of times a day to get them used to a crying child.
Also, give them time to smell the baby products like oils, moisturizers, and baby powder. If they’re used to the smell before the baby arrives, it may help form a sense of familiarity instead of being invaded. When the baby arrives, let your dog smell their blankets and get used to their scent before seeing the baby.
It’s important to involve your dog in baby-related activities, so they feel comfortable with your baby as they grow. Invite your dog to sit with you while you’re changing their diaper or putting them down for bed, and you may notice their bond forms effortlessly on its own.
Zone Out Safe Spaces For Dog And Baby
Baby gates are an essential step in preparing your house for a new arrival. One of the most common occurrences of baby injuries by pups is when babies get involved with the dog’s meal time.
Section off a place in your home where your dog will be safe to eat that your baby cannot access. It may also be beneficial to keep the dog’s food bowl up, and out of sight in case you have a curious youngin that wants to further explore the dog food.
Pamper Your Pup While You Get Them Ready For Life With Baby
Your dog might feel overwhelmed with all the changes that occur during your pregnancy, and the arrival of a new baby, so positive reinforcement is an excellent training tool.
When your dog hits a training milestone, masters a verbal command, or starts to catch on to a newly established rule around the house, reward them! Dogs love treat rewards, but you can also invest in sofa beds, comfy blankets, and enrichment toys.
You probably won’t be able to spend the same amount of time with your dog as usual when you’re first transitioning to life with your new baby, so stimulating toys will keep them entertained for a longer period of time than typical squeaking teddy bears.
Always Err on the Side of Caution When Mixing Pets and Young Children
Your dog may have never had an issue in its entire life, but babies and young children present a huge array of unfamiliar situations. This is especially true if the new child is given access to get extremely close to the dog, pull on their fur, play with their toys, or otherwise encroach upon long-established boundaries.
Here are some general safety tips to keep in mind as the new baby is introduced and as they mature in the same household as a pet:
- To reduce the risk of injury to the dog or the child, always supervise interactions and keep them brief until the child is mature enough to understand the dog’s comfort zone and warning signs.
- Teach children to be gentle with dogs from a young age.
- Provide separate havens: a dog-free zone and a child-free zone.
- Keep children away from high-energy dog play, and teach them not to run past dogs or get involved when dogs are moving around quickly.
- Keep children away when dogs are eating, sleeping, or secured by a lead or in their crate.
- Recognize warning signs of dog aggression early, and never hesitate to separate animals from young children. It is better to be overly cautious than overly confident.
Help Your Dog Transition With Training From Greenlin Pet Resorts
Training your dog might be overwhelming while you’re trying to focus on your incoming baby. There are endless theories about the best way to train dogs with children, so many books to read, and even training ‘hacks’ that supposedly make it easier.
While independent effort is important, you can make amazing progress with outside training programs. Our training methods at Greenlin Pet Resorts are tried and trusted by our experienced trainers, who’ve helped build confidence and good behavior in dogs like yours.
We offer a free evaluation of your dog’s current training level and will go over the best course of action to get your pup baby-ready in a reasonable time frame. You can call one of our 5 Harrisburg locations to schedule your free evaluation and learn more about training your dog with our dog training program at Greenlin Pet Resorts.
Our training program is designed to teach verbal commands, help you maintain good behaviors, and offer resources plus ongoing support to ensure that the training sticks in the long run! We even offer camps for social dogs to brush up on training with other pups just like them while staying in our dog boarding facility. Our experienced professional dog trainers can work with you to build an optimal path of training that has your dog as ready as possible for safe interactions with the new family member! We also have dog daycare options to give you a much-needed break during the daytime while you are getting used to your new routine with your newborn.
If you have any questions about training your dog for a baby’s arrival, you can call one of our 5 Greenlin Pet Resort locations in the Harrisburg area to learn more about what our programs can do for you!