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Tips on Preparing Your Dog for A New Baby

Tips on Preparing Your Dog for A New Baby

Adding a new member to the family can be stressful for everyone, including your dog! Bringing home a baby means a big change in your routine and priorities, so it’s important to help prepare your pup for the changes ahead. Here are tips to help prepare your dog for a baby in the family and keep up positive interaction once the baby arrives.

Before Baby Arrives

  • Brush up on training
    • Ensuring your pup’s training is on point can help keep your communication clear even as things change in your home
    • Teaching behaviors like relax on a mat, polite greeting, hand targeting, or back up can be useful around an infant
  • Establish safe zones for your pup
    • These are areas in the home where your dog is free to roam and/or not be bothered (especially important as your baby learns to crawl)
    • This may be use of baby gates, crates, or playpens to create safe separation
  • Let your pup get used to noises and smells of all of the baby items
    • Practice walking with the stroller
    • Make sure to use rewards to help create a positive association with these items
  • When you’re one to two months away from your baby’s arrival, start adjusting your home routine to mimic what it will be when your baby arrives
    • This may mean decreasing exercise (increase mental stimulation where you can with games and puzzles)
    • Practice randomizing the parts of your dog’s routine that may not be as predictable once the baby is home
  • Consider trying a dog daycare like Camp Bow Wow® or dog walker to provide your pup extra exercise and attention when you may not be able to as you adjust to your new routine
    • Make sure to get your pup used to the daycare or the dog walker before baby arrives

After Baby Arrives

  • Provide attention and affection while the baby is awake (during feeding, play, rocking, story time, etc.)
    • This can help a dog associate the baby with good things
    • Many Pet Parents try to shoo dogs away any time the baby is out, but this can create tension and does not help a baby and dog bond
  • Have quiet time together
    • When you’re feeding the baby or preparing for bed, offer your pup a frozen treat or puzzle to eat on a mat in the same room
  • Continue to reward positive interactions with the baby
    • Look for calm behavior, listening to verbal cues, or moving away when asked
  • Never allow your baby to be alone with your dog even if all is going well
    • This will an important practice as your baby grows into a toddler as well

Additional tips and tricks on helping your dog adjust to a new baby can be found at: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dogs-and-babies

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