By: Liz Reyes, CPDT-KA, B.S.
For new parents the cyclone of baby showers, baby proofing, and baby needs, can sometimes leave your original baby (that’s right, your pet considers himself your first child) feeling left out and confused. Though Fido may have been an angel before the new addition, now that baby rules the roost your dog may be exhibiting behavior that’s uncharacteristic. Knowing how to determine the difference between dangerous behavior and canine curiosity is vital in helping your dog adjust to the newest member of your family, and make sure an opportunity for an accident never arises. By keeping four crucial points in mind (Attention, Preparation, Introduction, and More Training) you can keep Fido happy, and make sure that an opportunity for incident never arises.
When you bring the new baby to your household, the attention your dog is used to having will fade. Especially the parents of the new baby; whose lack of time and energy will result in less time spent with the pooch. Continue to include your family in social activities even if they’re just around the house. A dog’s bad behavior initially could be due to the lack of attention and not because your dog is interested in harming the baby. If you make the effort to give extra attention to your dog during the homecoming of your baby, then he or she will accept the new baby as part of their family.
Be sure to keep a regular routine with your dog. Your dog will need to get plenty of exercise, and focused training. Try using enrichment toys to prevent boredom during the day.
Play recordings of typical baby noises for Fido to listen to while still pregnant. Ask a friend with a baby to record it for you or buy a pre-made recording.
Set up baby items such as crib, baby swing, car seat, etc around the house and put a baby doll in them. Get Fido used to all the new objects that will be in the home.
Start training your dog to do a place or down command while you pretend to change a baby doll’s diaper, feed baby, etc. Reward your dog for good behavior.
Get a stroller and start working with your dog walking properly along side a stroller with a baby doll in it.
Finally, once the baby is born bring home clothes for your dog to sniff, which your baby wore just after being born in the hospital.
Some dogs cannot adjust and need more training. Dogs with a strong prey drive such as hunting dogs or those who enjoy chasing cats will require more supervision and training when a new baby comes home. This type of dog will need a professional dog trainer to help them adjust. Don’t give up if you are having trouble with your dog. At It’s a Dog’s World K-9 Academy, Inc. we train dogs specifically to adjust to a new baby, and can even conduct sessions at the dog’s home. Here are signs your dog needs more training: