Imagine this. You’re pregnant and you’re about to pop! You’ve got everything ready for baby, from the decorated nursery to the packed hospital bag. But is your fur baby ready?
Your fur baby was probably your first “baby”, so it is used to all of the love and attention. With a new baby, your dog will have to share this love and attention with the newest kid on the block. Here are some tips on how to prepare your fur baby for the arrival of your human baby to ensure a smooth transition and to guarantee a start to a lifelong friendship with “baby’s best friend”!
Start with the basics
If your dog hasn’t been to basic obedience school, it’s probably a good idea to enroll them before your baby arrives. Even if your dog has gone and graduated, a refresher wouldn’t hurt! This way, both you and the dog have a handle of the basic commands, such as sit, stay, come, etc. Practice in the months before your due date and you’ll have a well-behaved pup that will listen to commands even with the new distractions, sounds, and smells.
Make Gradual Changes to Routine
A few months before you give birth, consider making gradual changes to your dog’s routine, such as walking routes and where they eat and sleep. The reason for making these gradual changes before your little one comes is so the dog won’t associate these changes with baby and become jealous. For example, you may no longer be able to take Fido on those hour-long walks to the park and back. Gradually decrease the length of these walks that is something more reasonable for when you have a newborn baby. The same goes with feedings. If Fido is used to being fed at 8:00 am on the dot, change up the times, but of course within reason.
Furthermore, if you are going to allow your dog in the baby’s room, start spending some time in there. Let puppy get used to the crib and rocking chair. Dedicate a small space that is out of the way for a dog bed. Put a few treats on there to tempt your dog to go there and start getting comfortable.
Lessen the love (for now)
Yes, this sounds so mean! But decreasing the amount of love and attention that your dog receives before you pop is vital for the long-term success of your fur baby and human baby getting along in the future. I’m not saying to fully ignore your puppy (because they invented puppy eyes for a reason), but the worst thing you can do is to lavish your dog with a whole bunch of lovin’ only for it to suddenly stop once baby arrives. Slowly decrease the amount of playtime and roughhousing and switch up the times of the day that you play with your dog so they don’t come to expect to play at a certain time. Because, duh, newborns are not on a schedule.
However, once your little one grows up and is mobile, there is plenty of love going around.
TIP: After your baby arrives, give your puppy lots of love and attention when the baby is around, so that puppy doesn’t associate good things happening only when baby isn’t in the picture.
Play The Baby Soundtrack
Dogs are very set in their ways. They become very comfortable with routine and are familiar with the normal sounds and smells in the house. Of course, all of that will change when your human baby makes an appearance. Get your dog ready by playing random baby sounds at random times of the day. Also, get your puppy used to the baby’s toys, such as the rattle or crinkly books. We would play YouTube videos of babies crying and laughing, cooing and blabbering while doing Tip #5….
TIP: Don’t get upset if you find your dog playing with the baby’s toys – they probably look and sound the same to your dog. Getting mad will make your dog associate the baby’s toy and smell as something negative. Instead, gently replace the baby toy with one of your dog’s own toy.
Get a pretend baby doll and simulate how the near future would look like with a baby. Pretend to feed, change, burp, and play with the doll, making sure your puppy is observing. This will give you a chance to observe any commands you may need to work on. For example, if your dog is curious about the doll, but jumps up on you to inspect closer, it’s time to practice not jumping on people. Furthermore, a doll will help you and the rest of the family practice diaper changes and swaddling. Win-win. 🙂
If you decided to allow the dog in baby’s room as in Tip #2, teach your dog to lie there while you rock the baby doll in the rocking chair or change the baby at the changing table. This will help you determine if the dog will be able to behave and stay out of the way or if you have to make the baby’s room off-limits to puppy.
Prepare the Senses
Since the sense of smell is the strongest sense in a dog, prepare it for baby’s arrival! Let your dog sniff the lotions and shampoos that you will be using on baby. Once you prewash all of the cute tiny onesies, allow your dog to smell the laundry.
TIP: Once baby is born, take one of the used swaddles or onesies and have someone bring it home for your dog to get used to baby’s scent before you come home from the hospital.
And there you have it! Six ways to help you prepare your fur baby for your human baby. The key is to be consistent and to make gradual changes so that there is a smooth transition. Before you know it, your puppy and baby will be best friends and they will grow up too fast together before your eyes. How did you prepare your dog for the arrival of your baby and how did it work out? I would love to hear your experience!