The arrival of your baby is a tumultuous time for everyone. When we decide to have children, we are making a life changing decision. This impacts us all and certainly has consequences for your dog. You will now have less time on your hands than you did before. From my own experience with my children, you very quickly forget what you did with your time before they arrived and in the first few weeks it wasn’t unusual for me still to be in my pajamas at 11am despite getting out of bed at 6 am.
Most of us know that our baby is arriving well in advance of the due date. This gives us at least 6 or 7 months to train our dog to do all the things we need our dog to do when the baby arrives. Most of us only need the dog to entertain himself for a while when we are doing something else, so we can attend to the baby’s feeding, bathing and changing.
To start with, I would recommend feeding your dog most, if not all of her food from Kongs or similar stuffable dog toy. Please see the attached link for how to go about this
Along with training your dog to eat from her Kong, I would also recommend that you give a clear indication to your dog that your attention is now unavailable. An easy way to do this is to but an item where your dog can see it. I would suggest something like a clock or large picture frame. This way, your dog will make the connection that when the clock comes out, you now don’t pay the dog attention. To condition your dog to this, practice once or twice a day, every day. Vary the amount of time you leave the clock out for, sometimes a few minutes, sometimes up to half an hour. Put the clock out and ignore your dog. I would advice giving your dog his kong most of the time at the start (to keep him entertained), and then vary between giving him the kong when the clock is out and not giving him the kong. This way, you are teaching him that sometimes he will not have his kong when the clock is on show, as there will be times when you will not be able to put his kong out when you are dealing with the baby. The only thing the clock/picture frame means to the dog is that your attention is unavailable. He gets his kong very often when the clock is out, but sometimes he doesn’t. When you put the clock away, make a big fuss of him, pet him, tell him he’s a good boy and maybe give him a treat. This will let him know that he is allowed to comes and say hello again.
Your dog also needs to become accustomed to the sound of a crying baby and your actions around her. There are loads of sounds you can download from the internet of crying babies. Stick them onto your ipod or phone. Buy or borrow a realistic looking baby doll. Wrap the doll up in a baby blanket, put the ipod on top of the doll and let your dog hear the “baby” crying and see your actions when she does. This will go some way to getting him used to the new arrival crying and your bizarre new actions. You can put the clock out at this time or not, but if you don’t, remember that the dog is allowed to approach you if he wants to.
When the baby arrives, take an extra blanket to the hospital. Your husband or partner can then bring this blanket home and let the dog smell it. The blanket need to be held in your hand and encourage the dog to be gentle around it rather than boisterously investigating it.
Your new baby coming into your home is a wonderful time but it can be stressful. With a little planning, forethought and some training, you can reduce this stress for both you and your dog.