Many couples have fur babies before they have human babies.
So how do you ensure your dog will embrace your newborn?
Many people forget that a new baby can come as a shock to their pets as the lifestyle of the entire family shifts.
Lost Dogs’ Home post-adoption trainer Elonnah Dutton says dogs should be start preparing for the new arrival months in advance. Here are her top preparation tips:
– During the pregnancy, buy a baby doll from a toy store – the more realistic the better. Then start to carry the toy baby around and teach your dog to be calm or on their bed when the baby is being held
– When the toy baby is in the same room as the dog ensure all games and toys are paused so the dog responds calmly and understands that the baby equals calm behaviour. When the toy baby is in another room the dog should be free to play
– Give your dog treats at the same time as playing low volume recordings of baby cries and baby noises, which can be found on YouTube or via special apps, to desensitise the dog to these sounds. Make sure you play with your dog or use a food-dispensing toy while the sounds play so they associate the sounds with good things
– Place the toy doll on the ground and practice pretend ‘tummy time’. While doing this direct your dog to their bed and reward them for staying there. This is also the perfect time to give your dog a yummy food puzzle.
– Practice bed training and encourage your dog to choose their bed as their relaxing area. Make the bed like Disneyland for them by throwing treats on it and rewarding them every time they sit on their bed.
– Practice loose lead walking with your dog and pushing a pram up and down the driveway or on a quiet street. Keep the dog at your side and reward them with a delicious treat.
– When it comes time to leave the hospital take the baby’s blanket home first to allow your dog to smell the scent of the newborn before they meet in person.
– When holding your baby on the couch encourage your dog to be on the floor and reward all calm behaviours. Allow the dog to sniff the feet of the baby and reward them.
Ms Dutton said planning ahead could help reduce any overexcited, jealous or territorial behaviour.
“If you are patient and consistent with your dog as you prepare for your new baby you can ensure a smooth transition.”
Ms Dutton says to never leave your dog and baby alone together, and to make their experiences positive when they are together.