Having a baby can be a scary thing. There are car seats, Combi strollers, La Leche Leagues – the information is overwhelming.
Now try adding your dog into the equation.
One of the most common reasons that dogs arrive at the Lexington Humane Society is because their owners are expecting.
But there’s no reason to kick one “baby” out just because you’re bringing another in.
It’s a total change from the life he was used to, when he slept in your bed and you played fetch for hours.
It’s an adjustment that the entire family needs to make together, and that includes the dog.
Babies and dogs can coexist peacefully – even love each other – with a little bit of work.
First thing’s first, and that’s training your dog to be a good canine citizen.
If your dog hasn’t been through obedience training, get him into a class with a reputable dog trainer.
Lexington has some excellent trainers who can help good dogs become great dogs.
Make sure to practice the basic commands as much as possible once your dog has learned them.
Once your dog is well-trained and obeying commands, you’ll have the control needed when introducing him to the baby.
Next you’ll want to start reducing the amount of time you spend with your pet.
Yes, that’s difficult, but it’s better to gradually do it now than after you bring your bundle home, when your dog will associate the new baby with the lack of attention and be less accepting of it.
The two-hour long sessions of fetch in the park will be put on hold while you turn your attention to your baby, and a slow change will make your dog more accepting of the new order of things.
Thankfully, most dogs can’t tell time, so five minutes at a time of total attention may keep him feeling secure in your love.
Now that your dog is under control, it’s a good idea to start exposing him to babies in a safe, controlled setting.
Get him used to the sight of strollers and the sound of crying so he knows what to expect when baby comes home.
You can also see how he’s going to react when he meets your little one.
Reward him for good behavior – if he’s sniffing the stroller and tolerating the crying, give him treats to reward him.
If his behavior is unacceptable, calmly and swiftly remove him from the situation to cool down and then try again.
It may take some practice, but this is a crucial step.
Once your baby comes home, it’s time to put your work into practice.
First, bring in a blanket with your baby’s scent on it so he gets used to the smell.
Never leave your dog alone with your child no matter how well-behaved he is.
Make sure your pup has a space he feels comfortable retreating to, as he may be overwhelmed with your new addition.
Take baby steps (ha!), and your dog and baby will grow up together in harmony.