You’re pregnant! The most exciting news in the world! Whether this is your first baby or or not, this new little life joining your family is going to affect your dog. As wonderful as your dog is, don’t blindly believe they’ll be thrilled with the new addition. Dogs are not little humans. They’re animals and they perceive things very differently to humans. So set your dog up for success by preparing them for your new arrival with these tips:
Start preparing your dog as soon as you find out you’re pregnant
Decide what the rules will be once the baby comes. And start practicing those rules right now. If you have a family, then set up a family meeting. And make sure everyone agrees on the rules and is on the same page. For instance, if your dog is allowed on the couch now but will not be when baby comes, teach them to stay on the floor now. If you wait till baby comes your dog might resent you or your baby. So decide on the house rules and make sure everyone in the family is enforcing them.
Create boundaries around the nursery
Your dog needs to learn to respect the boundaries you set around the nursery. And all the baby areas for that matter. Decide as a family what those boundaries will be and start enforcing them now. That way when baby comes your dog will already be accustomed to them and will not question it.
Brush up on training
Before baby arrives, take some time to brush up on basic dog training. Start with consistency. If you call your dog, make sure they come……every time. Not just sometimes. Do some practice obedience with your dog. Have them sit, stay, come, down etc. If you’re struggling with these commands, call a trainer and sign up for an obedience refresher class. If your’re not, try teaching them some fun things like crawl.
There’s a difference between love and respect. I know you love your dog and your dog loves you. But does he or she respect you? Be honest, if you’re struggling to get your dog to listen to you consistently, there may be an element missing. You need your dog to respect you before baby comes.
Desensitize your dog to baby chaos
One thing is for sure. Along with a new baby comes a lot of chaos. That includes everything from more visitors to preparing your house for a baby. Your dog needs to get used to the sounds of a crying baby, along with the new routine.
If your dog hasn’t had a lot of experience around kids or babies try this. Take your dog to a park where kids are playing. With your dog on leash sit on a bench near by. Let your dog observe the chaos of kids having fun. Keep it positive. Bring treats and give your dog some tasty morsels. That way your dog will be experiencing pleasure while around screaming kids. It will imprint a positive impression in their brain.
Also, if you have friends with kids, invite them over. Supervise some play dates. Set your dog up to feel good interacting with kids in their house. *Note: if there are ever any signs of aggression call a professional trainer immediately.
Have fun with your dog
And finally, have fun with your dog. Enjoy quality playtime together. Show them they are an important part of your family. Spend time daily doing things they love to do. Whether it’s playing fetch, going for a run or a swim, or playing at a dog park. Make sure your dog gets the one on one time they need to feel loved and important.
Written by Brenda McBurnie, certified dog trainer and natural nutrition
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