Whether you’ve already got a dog and now expecting a baby, or you’ve just had a baby and thinking of adding a dog to the mix. Things in your household will definitely get more chaotic. It’s incredibly important for dog obedience to minimise stress for yourself and the dog and help things run smoothly.
Make a dog obedience plan
Your dog will truly benefit from any kind of training prior to the birth. Some basic dog obedience skills will really go a long way to help manage behaviour once the baby is home.
It’s said that around four months before the baby arrives, gradually introduce your dog to new sights, sounds, smells and experiences she’ll come across once the baby is there. Reward their good behaviour to help them learn. This can be anything from allowing your dog to be with children of family and friends to see how they interact.
Preparing your dog for lifestyle changes
Some dogs can experience some anxiety when their routines change suddenly. So it’ll also help to start making the changes to your dog’s routine before the baby arrives, so it’s not such a shock.
Before baby arrives resist the urge to lavish your dog in extra attention. This is one of the hardest things for dogs to adjust to, as they would have most likely have had your sole attention right up until the baby. Try scheduling short play and cuddle sessions during the day and then gradually give them less attention at various other times of the day. Keep things sporadic, so your dog doesn’t grow to expect attention at a particular time of the day.
Make NEW rules
While you’re instilling new dog obedience skills, now is the best time to change or make new rules. For example, if you no longer want your dog to jump up at you or to sit on the furniture uninvited then adapting your training before baby arrives is vital. If you leave this too late your dog may blame your new arrival for the sudden changes.
I have experienced this myself when we rescued a dog and then decided on starting a family. When my son became more mobile our dog didn’t respect his space and knocked him over. Consequently, I had to give up the dog (he went to a good home) to ensure my son’s safety.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an uncommon occurrence. A very close friend of mine had to rehome two dogs when they started a family because they didn’t heed my warnings about training before baby arrived.
Making your baby’s room off limits
Some pet owners find it easier to keep the dog away from the baby’s room unless invited in. If this is something you are considering, then while you are training your dog keep the door to baby’s room closed or install a baby gate. Train your dog that they are only allowed to sit, stay or stay down at the door of the baby’s room.
If you decide that you don’t mind the dog in the baby’s space, teach them that while in the baby’s room it’s ‘quite time’. Put a bed in a section of the room and while in there with the baby teach them to relax in their bed. You can occasionally leave treats in their bed when she’s not around for her to find. In time they’ll grow accustom to their new space.
Basic dog obedience skills
Your dog having good verbal control training can also really help when it comes to tending to her and your baby’s care.
Basic manners like below:
Greet people nicely
These will help you control your dog’s movements when the baby is around and they are getting in the way.
Prepare your dog for the baby’s touch and movement
Start small and introduce your dog to the baby’s smell and presence gradually. Introduce them to The car seat, high chair and even toys. Let them investigate but if they try to pick anything up or move away with it; redirect their attention to one of their toys or chew bones. This will be very hard for them to differentiate between theirs and the baby’s, so it’s best to start early to help them understand the difference.
Then build your way up to preparing your dog for the baby and the inevitable. We can encourage your baby to be gentle but not knowing any better, they are likely to pull and grab. So never leave your child unattended with your dog. Some dog behavioural specialists recommend purchasing a lifelike doll to simulate common movements you’ll do with the baby. This should help both you and your dog practice interacting with each other once the baby is around.
Don’t forget about your dog
Your dog doesn’t just need toys and walks to feel loved. He also needs your attention to feel important. So don’t forget them, stick to a routine as much as possible. This will help your dog feel secure and allows them to relax.
It’s not about breed
*IMPORTANT* Don’t assume your dog will or will not pose a problem based on their breed. Be honest with yourself, are you able to control your dog all the time and in all situations? All dogs have to the potential to bite and snap. Like we said before the key is to never leave your dog and child unattended.
They key is leadership. Remind them that you are the pack leader. And if you’re still not sure about the safety of your baby with your dog, then perhaps the kindest option is to find your dog another home.