If you're expecting a little bundle of joy to arrive soon, it is a good idea to start getting your dog ready for the changes that will inevitably take place when you bring a baby home. While you may be getting the nursery ready and buying all the baby paraphernalia, these aren't the only steps you need to take if you have a pet.
Bringing a baby home without having started getting your dog ready for all the changes it will entail can make the situation more stressful for your pooch and lead to problems down the line. Rather than simply throwing your pet in at the deep end, you should take steps to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.
Never too early
It is never too early to start getting your dog ready for the changes that will come with a new baby. You should aim to start introducing them to the idea around four months into the pregnancy. This will mean they don't really notice any changes once you bring your baby home, helping them to settle into the new order.
Waiting until your baby has arrived will increase stress levels for all concerned, which isn't ideal when you're already sleep-deprived due to a newborn.
If your dog is perfectly happy being touched all over, this is a relatively easy step. However, if your pooch gets too excited when you give them physical attention, you should try to stop this as much as possible.
Giving them attention when they are calm and quiet but stopping if they get over excited can help them to realise that they need to remain calm when being touched.
For dogs that can get funny about being touched in certain places, you should be sure you keep this in mind when your baby starts moving around on their own. As babies can get enthusiastic about petting a dog, a shy animal or one that doesn't like to be touched in certain places can easily get upset.
Dogs can get distressed when first hearing the general noises being made by a baby, which can affect their behaviour. It is a good idea to play recordings of baby noises for a few minutes every day to help them get used to the noise.
Start by keeping the volume very low, slowly increasing it as the days go on so your dog can get used to it. You should avoid playing any recordings if your dog is hyper or distressed.
You should look at how your dog behaves when you take them out for a walk prior to the baby arriving. If your dog tends to pull, get overexcited or run off, you will need to address the issue as soon as possible as trying to deal with it while you're pushing a pram will make things a lot more difficult.
Try walking your dog next to a pushchair before your little one arrives so both you and they can get used to it. Be sure to give them treats when they are behaving themselves as this will help them to be more confident.
The smell of your house will alter a lot when you bring a baby home. As well as the child itself, things like different detergents, baby lotion and talcum powder will all alter how your house smells to your dog.
You should use these things throughout your home in the weeks before your due date so your pooch can have a good sniff and realise there is nothing odd about the scents.
You should get your house ready in the weeks before the birth by putting all the baby things - like prams, cots, high chairs and changing mats - in their new places. This is especially important if it requires you moving your dog's usual bed.
This will help them get used to the new arrangement and will also allow you to train them to stay off these items.
Written by: Hannah Dyball