Many times, in the midst of preparing for the baby to come, we put our pets on the back burner. Which is completely understandable! Future mothers need to focus on their bodies and their little ones that are arriving soon.
But, you do need to consider what happens with the family dog once the baby is born. Because a dog can have very many reactions and various responses to the attention the baby will get versus the attention they used to get. So, in order to help this process go as smoothly as possible, we have a few suggestions on how to prepare the dog before and after your little one is born.
Before the Birth
If your dog is a very hyper, energetic, and most importantly, “jumpy” dog, then it might be time to either train him to be less energetic, or enroll him in dog obedience classes. The last thing you want is an energetic dog when you have a newborn in your arms or when you are nine months pregnant and are awaiting labor.
If your dog, for some reason, has never EVER been exposed to children, then this needs to happen. If you have family with kids, invite them over a few times before the baby is born. If you have no family with kids, check with friends. And if not that, then at least take the dog into a public setting (walking on the street or a park) in order for them to be around children.
It is highly suggested that you, as owners, initiate that the nursery is a boundary point, and that the dog should not be allowed in. Whether it be training them a few weeks before or a few months, let them know that they are not allowed in the nursery and that it is completely off limits.
If any of these options do not work and your dog continues to act ridiculous and does not do well with kids, then just keep that thought tucked in the back of your head. We do not want to go to extremes, but if the dog does not settle, they may need a new home.
Dog Sitters For During the Birth
It is a simple concept, but make sure that you have someone in mind to watch your precious pup while you are gone. Have everything organized and prepared for the dog sitter in case you go into labor early, including emergency numbers and detailed instructions.
Have some treats for when you are gone, that way the dog does not get grumpy and lonely. Rather, the sitter can give them a treat for good behavior, or simply if they need a little “pick me up”.
After Birth, But Pre-Arrival
After the baby is born, have a friend or the spouse take home an item of clothing from the baby (that the newborn has already worn) home with them. Introduce your pup to the smell of the clothing, but first by having the dog be a good distance away. If you allow them to sniff from far away, this shows that you are still in control of the clothing and that it is yours. But then allow the dog to sniff the clothing up close. This shows that because you told the dog they could, they could be that close the the item.
The day before your little family comes home, make sure the sitter takes the dog for a run or lets them run around for awhile to drain their energy. Especially if your dog is energetic and hyper, this allows for them to be more tired, calm, and not as excited for when you, as owners, come home.
After the Birth Arrival
Your dog will be very happy to see you, whether they are hyper or calm depends on the dog. The first day back home, it is best to not let the dog sniff the baby or “meet the newborn” right away. Rather, have the dog at a distance. Then motion at the baby, showing them that the baby is yours and is in your control. Every few days, let them get closer.
After a few days, allow the dog to come close to the baby’s face, let them sniff her or LIGHTLY lick their head. If you are at all worried about the dog becoming overly-hyper or aggressive with the newborn, then give it a few weeks. Just because your dog is not a German Shepherd or Rottweiler does not mean they won’t attempt to attack the newborn.
If for some reason your dog has no interest in the baby, ignores them, or even walks away from you every time the baby is in the room, this is a warning sign. The dog could either be jealous or genuinely unhappy, but you need to keep your attention on the dog if this is the case. You never want to leave the baby alone with a dog, even if it is with a calm dog. That is putting the baby’s safety and security at risk, and you do not want to break those barriers.
There are chances that none of these things are working. If that is so, call in some professional help to try and solve the problems between the dog and your baby. But if nothing, even with professional guide, appears to be working, it is time to find a new home for your pup. The newborn’s safety comes first, without question. And although giving your dog to another family or shelter would be hard, it is in the best interests of your family and your child.
In the end, with proper training and a good dog, you should be able to establish a good bond between your child and your dog. Although it may take time and some frustration, and a lot of dog treats, your dog can grow and learn to love your child. Your pup (most likely) means a lot to your family, so do your best and continue to love them, train them, and care for them!
At OurStart, we hope that your four legged friend welcomes your new addition into the family with the patience and care you give them every day!