Preparing Your Dog For Your New Baby
By Heather Gibbs, CPDT-KA, ABCDT, SBA
Preparing for a new baby’s arrival can be an exciting and stressful time for all family members involved – especially your dog! This article from Courteous Canine, Inc. contains information about how to prepare your dog for your new baby.
For questions and training services to prepare your dog for your new baby, please contact Courteous Canine, Inc. at LoveDogs@CourteousCanine.com or 813-949-1465.
Create a Plan
Make a plan to gradually train your dog in anticipation of your baby’s arrival. Your dog will experience new sights, sounds, smells, and will likely experience a change in their usual schedule when your baby arrives.
All of these sudden changes may cause stress to your dog. To help reduce these stressors, begin gradually introducing these new schedule changes before your baby arrives.
Consider enlisting the help of an in-home pet sitting or dog walking professional to help maintain your dog’s exercise and play routines during the first few weeks of your baby’s arrival. This can help to reduce your dog’s stress during this time.
There are several helpful behaviors for your dog to know: Behaviors like sit, down, come, stay, leave it, and drop it can be incredibly helpful for any pup to know.
These behaviors are particularly beneficial when communicating with your dog around a new baby.
Consider seeking the help of a certified professional trainer to work on accomplishing these training goals.
Practice with a Baby Doll
While your pup may not recognize a baby doll in the same way as they will your child, the doll can be a help during the training process above. By allowing your dog to practice cues such as down, stay, and leave it while you are holding and moving the doll, you are setting your dog up for success for the future.
These distractions should only be added to training sessions gradually, when your pup has a strong understanding of their obedience cues without distractions present.
New Sights, Sounds, & Smells
Pair positive experiences for your dog, like play time and tasty treats, with new items and smells. Food can be one of the strongest ways to improve a dog’s response to new things, like a stroller or crib.
Play sounds found online of babies crying at a low volume while engaging your dog in positive play and treat games.
If your dog appears distressed by any of these exercises, reduce the difficulty and seek the guidance from a qualified, professional positive trainer.
Baby gates and pens can be helpful ways to give your dog and child their own space during meal times and play time.
Children should always be supervised and never left unattended with your dog.
As your child grows older, children should be taught to leave your dog’s toys and food bowls alone.
If you experience any behavior concerns with your dog guarding their resources, seek the help of a qualified positive trainer immediately for a personalized training and management plan.
Boredom Busters for Your Dog
Give your dog puzzle feeder toys, like a “snuffle mat” or KONG dog toy, filled with tasty treats and food items. This is a great way for any pup to exercise their mind and help relax them. These items should only be given to your dog out of reach from your new baby.
For a full list of games and enrichment ideas for your dog, check back for our upcoming article Boredom Busters & Brain Games or join our class of the same name.
Have Patience With Your Pup
Give your pup some love and attention! Welcoming a new baby into your home comes with its own stressors and excitement for everyone.
Have patience with your dog and be sure to provide them with lots of comfort and attention.
If you experience any behavior or training concerns with your pup during this transition, seek the help of a certified, positive trainer.
About the author
Heather Gibbs, CPDT-KA, ABCDT, SBA
Heather is the Business Manager and a Behavior Consultant for Courteous Canine, Inc., a force free dog training school in Lutz, Florida that also offers sport training, behavior consultations, board-and-train, day care, and pet sitting. For more information, visit www.CourteousCanine.com.
© Courteous Canine, Inc. 2021