Getting your dog ready for a baby: Part two

For those expecting a baby soon, ensuring your dog is ready for the new arrival might be the last thing on your mind. However, it is an important part of ensuring your pet's behaviour doesn't change for the worse once you bring your little one home.

A new baby coming into the house is incredibly stressful for your dog so it is important to take the right steps to ensure they are happy and comfortable. This will make your home more harmonious and reduce stress for you and your pet.

This guide follows on from Getting your Dog ready for a baby: Part one.

Food

Dogs can get very protective over their food and feeding times, which can be slightly awkward when you have a little one needing attention or crawling around.

If your dog has a specific feeding time, you should ensure you stick to this as much as possible before your little one arrives and afterwards. This will help keep them calm and stop them from whining or misbehaving as their dinner time passes.

While it can be difficult to feed them on time every day, especially when dealing with a crying baby, you should keep to feeding them at a specific time as much as possible.

If your pooch doesn't have a set dinner time, it might be a good idea to introduce one in the months leading up to the birth as this will help regulate their behaviour.

You should also take steps to ensure your dog is able to take treats from people gently and that they have a place to eat that is out of the way, in order to ensure minimum disruption to them when your baby starts to wander around.

Playthings

Quite often, you'll find that dog toys and baby toys look and feel very similar. This can be confusing for both baby and dog, and can lead to your pooch taking a liking to something they shouldn't.

Avoid this happening by putting their toys in a specific place that is away from any baby toys. Putting toys away after they have played with them or placing them in or around their bed will help them to learn what is theirs and what they are allowed to play with.

If your pooch starts playing with your baby's toys, don't shout at them. Simply take the toy away and tell them 'no'. It also helps to teach them to 'leave' or 'drop' toys in the run up to your new arrival.

Attention

Perhaps the biggest change for your dog is the fact that you will have less time to pay attention to them. Besides the fact that babies require a lot of attention, you're also likely to end up having a lot of people over your house to meet your little one.

This means your dog can start to feel left out, which can result in behavioural issues, especially if this is your first child. To try and make the transition as easy as possible, you should start getting them ready for it early on.

A great way to do this is to create a separate area for them that is away from everyone else, which is where they can go when you have visitors or when you are dealing with your baby. You should create the area in the months before your baby arrives so they can get used to going there without it becoming a big deal.

Stair gates are a good solution as they can be used to block off doorways without having to shut the main door to the room. This means they can still see and hear you but aren't underfoot.

Try placing them in the area or room you create for them for a few minutes a day. This works best if you supply a treat or toy to keep them happy. Slowly increase how much time they spend there so they are happy to remain behind the stair gate for extended periods of time if need be.

Health

Another important issue you should address is your dog's health. You need to ensure that your pet - and your home - is completely flea and worm free. Not only will this keep your dog happy and healthy, it also stops your baby getting bites or ill.

Have your dog checked out before the arrival of your little one to make sure they are in good health. This will give you time to address any possible issues and ensure your home is ready for baby.

Any changes you make to your dog's environment should be done calmly to allow them to get used to the situation. This will help keep them happy for when you come home with your child for the first time.

Written by: Hannah