Baby Proofing Your Dog
I have advised parents-to-be for many years on how to prepare their dogs for the arrival of a new baby, but it wasn’t until the birth of my daughter Alexandra that I had the opportunity to put the advice into practice with my own animals.
You can avoid potential problems by using the tips below to help your dog become more comfortable when your baby arrives:
- Introduce your dog to your baby’s scent. Introduce your dog to baby smells, such as the products that you will be using. When your baby is born, have a friend or family member bring home a blanket that your baby has been wrapped in and allow the dog to smell the blanket and praise her as she is sniffing it.
- Desensitize your dog to your baby’s sounds. Play a CD of a crying baby, a few times a day for a few weeks at a low volume that is barely audible to the dog. Reward your dog while the CD is playing. If the dog seems comfortable and shows no adverse reactions, increase the volume. If the dog becomes stressed at any time, decrease the volume for a couple of days until the dog is relaxed. Repeat this process until the dog is comfortable with a higher volume. Over a period of weeks, your dog will become accustomed to the sound of a baby’s cries even before your baby is born.
- Reward your dog for calm behaviour. Using treats, petting or play as a reward for calm behaviour when the baby is crying or when you are holding the baby provides a positive association, because your dog is getting delicious food when the baby is around.
- Get your dog used to walking with a stroller. If your dog is a leash puller, have another person walk her while you push the stroller. Hire a trainer or take your dog to a training class so that she can be taught to walk appropriately alongside the stroller.
- Have a plan ready for when you go to the hospital. Know a few months ahead of your due date where you will send your dog when you go into labour. When you come home, allow a family member to carry your baby into the house while you spend time greeting the dog. After the greeting is over, sit down on the sofa with the baby in your arms and introduce your dog to the new family member. Keep your body relaxed throughout the introductions and praise your dog for remaining calm.
- Go to a training class. If you have poor communication with your dog, now is the time to enroll her in a training class or hire an in-home trainer to work with you.
Baby proofing your dog is all about making that dog feel comfortable and safe with the new changes your baby will bring to your life. Observing your dog’s reactions around other children will give you an indication of what you can expect when your baby arrives.
Victoria will be speaking at the All About Pets Show on March 29’31 at the International Centre (6900 Airport Road).