If you’re expecting a baby but already have a canine fur baby at home, it’s a good idea to think about any changes you’ll need to make when your little one arrives. To minimize disruption to your dog and make your life easier once you have a baby to look after, you should use the weeks or months leading up to your due date to instil good habits. Today, mother & baby brand, and fellow B Corp, JoJo Maman Bébé shares their top tips for preparing your dog for their new best friend in the most gentle and practical way!
1. ADDRESS ANY UNWANTED BEHAVIOR
Try to anticipate the things that will only start to bother you once you have a baby to look after. Whether it’s pulling while on the lead, sitting on your lap as soon as you sit down or getting too excited when visitors arrive, work on these habits now so they don’t frustrate you when your baby arrives.
2. INTRODUCE NEW BOUNDARIES
If your dog is currently allowed to sleep on your bed but you know you’ll want to stop this when your baby arrives, make sure you introduce the new rules well in advance. If you’re worried about leaving him on his own at night, leave the radio on to help keep him calm.
3. TAKE IT SLOW
By preparing your dog before you have your baby, you have the luxury of introducing changes at a slower pace, helping to make the transition smoother for the whole family. It’s a good idea to start with the ‘permitted’ areas in the house and use rewards to enforce positive behavior, rather than going straight in with forbidding certain spaces.
4. STROLLER READY
Get your dog comfortable around the stroller. If you’re planning on taking your dog on walks with you and your new baby, it’s a good idea to get your dog used to the stroller beforehand. Some dogs might become fixated on the wheels which may frighten them, so consider doing some trial walks ahead of your due date.
5. ROLE PLAY
You might feel a little ridiculous, but consider wrapping a doll in a blanket, carrying it around the house with you and giving it attention as if it were a real baby. And if you can get your hands on one that has crying sound effects, even better!
6. TIME FOR A CHECK-UP
Make sure your pooch is all up to date with his worm and flea treatments and vaccinations. It’s worth taking him to the vet for a once-over before you have your baby, so you can address any ailments or conditions while you have relatively more time.
7. INTRODUCE LARGE ITEMS
Any large or strange pieces of gear should be set up well in advance, so your dog can get used to them. Think cribs, cots, bouncer chairs or any other bulky items that your dog might come into contact with – the longer your dog has to get used to them, the less curious or concerned she’ll be once there’s a baby in them.
8. VARY YOUR ROUTINE
It goes without saying that a new baby comes with a disrupted routine for the whole family – even the dog. It’s a good idea to start mixing up the day a little and getting him used to being fed and walked at different times so by the time your baby arrives, he knows not to pester you at certain times for food and exercise.
9. GET A DOG-SITTER
Don’t forget to organize for someone to look after your dog when you’re in hospital giving birth! Given the unpredictable nature of going into labor, make sure you’ve handed over the dog-sitting duties to someone you can trust and depend on at extremely short notice. It’s worth choosing a family member or friend, or anyone your dog is familiar with, to help keep disruption to a minimum.
10. A WARM WELCOME
When you come home from the hospital with your new arrival in tow, let someone else carry them in. Your dog may have not seen you for a few days and will naturally be happy to greet you – and also curious to see what you’ve brought with you, so it’s best to have your hands free. It’s also worth training your dog to be calm each time you enter the house in the weeks leading up to the birth if he’s usually excited to see you.
TO PREPARE YOUR CHILD FOR A NEW DOG
One of the best gifts a child can receive is a new best friend (dog). It’s a moment they’ll likely remember for the rest of their lives. But, I for one was terrified of dogs as a child, so if you’re not sure how your child will react to their new pet, it might be worth introducing some toys and activities to gently prepare them. Our Sausage Dog Pull-Along Toy gives children the perfect opportunity to practice going for walkies with their new friend, and the Bashful Puppy soft toy from Jellycat will help them learn to pet gently and stroke – not tug – their puppy’s ears. If you have friends or family with a dog in their family, ask if you can join them for a walk one morning or even dog-sit for the day!