Do you have a dog and are you going to have a baby soon? Congratulations on this great news! Here are some explanations to best prepare your dog for the arrival of your baby and to make sure that this new family life goes smoothly.
Numerous studies have proven it: animals will have a very positive impact on your child’s life. But the arrival of a child in your dog’s life will be easier if it is prepared and if you follow a few simple rules to facilitate this transition.
You have to prepare the new environment and, if possible, do it in stages, as little abruptly as possible. Preserve your dog’s usual places, the location of his basket, his bowls, corners that will remain his own and where he can always take refuge.
Several weeks before your child’s arrival, it is important that you allow your dog to explore the baby’s room if you are there. Let him sniff out new smells and stay with you.
But never let the dog leave this room with an object that does not belong to him. If the dog cannot give an object, teach it before the baby arrives. Dog and baby toys should not be alike. Likewise, if your dog pulls when he walks on a leash, correct this behavior. You must, in fact, control your dog before the baby arrives, do not hesitate to call an educator or ask your veterinarian for advice so that they can help you in this learning.
Gently modify your routine to get ahead of the new habits you will adopt when baby is there and this, once again, so that the change is as gradual as possible for your companion.
Before the arrival of your child, you should also try to familiarize your dog with the presence of babies and young children. To do this, the presence of children must be associated with a pleasant situation: caresses, sweets, games. If things didn’t go the way you wanted, don’t hesitate to see a vet so they can help you with these socializing issues.
It is also imperative to take some hygiene measures before the arrival of your baby: a visit to your veterinarian is necessary for a small assessment; your dog will have to be dewormed and treated against external parasites (fleas and ticks).
When the baby arrives
After the birth and before you return, ask a loved one to bring home a blanket in which your child has been wrapped in the hospital. Tell that person to give it to your dog. So he will already know his scent before he arrives.
When the baby arrives at home, let your dog take the initiative of the first contact, under your close supervision. But the first thing you need to do is greet your dog warmly; do not push him away.
If the dog has a tendency to jump, he will need to be placed in a different room in the house until you are ready to welcome him. You can then put a leash on him so that he can maintain control and require him to sit down before you can smell the baby. When he is calm, he can approach the child. The dog should always be allowed to smell the baby if his behavior is calm and new parents should remain calm as well.
Above all, continue to provide moments of play and affection with your dog, so that he does not feel abandoned. Especially when you are with your child: this way your dog will associate the presence of the child with the fact that you are taking care of him. In other words, he will appreciate the child all the more!
Warning: you should never leave a baby or a young child alone with a dog. One does not yet control his movements well or does not yet know the language of the dog and the other remains an animal with reactions that can be primitive, even if its intention is not to harm the child. It is the same with your cat, even if baby choking cats are more myth than reality, caution is in order and you must be present to ensure that everything is going well.
A few tips
- Never leave your dog and baby alone together.
- Whenever the baby cries, invite the dog to come see him with you.
- When you are feeding or breastfeeding the baby, invite your dog to join you. You can even offer him a treat while he’s quietly by your side.
- When you go for a walk with your baby, take your dog with you.
- Choose one or two five to ten minute periods each day where you take care of your dog without interruption.
When baby grows up
It is advisable to educate your child as soon as possible about the behavior to adopt with your dog. We must not allow the baby to think of him as a toy. He must respect it and the child must never be allowed to disturb your dog when he is calm in his basket or sleeping area. The child should also not disturb him while he is eating.
Always keep in mind that a young child is not able to decipher your dog’s gestures. He therefore risks not realizing that he is bothering him, and that if the dog growls, it is because he is warning that he can attack. It is up to you to supervise your child and you must teach him what to do and what not to do, with the help of the advice of your veterinarian.
Once this cohabitation is in place, you will be able to fully enjoy your new family life and your dog will undoubtedly be an essential awakening factor for your baby. They can then become the best friends in the world!