Thank you to Pitter Patter Parenting for being this week’s guest blogger! Pitter Patter Parenting is a local business that provides pet care, education and support to help families manage their pets in a way that encourages safe and healthy relationships.
Are you expecting your first child and are wondering how your beloved dog is going to handle sharing your attention with the new baby? This is a common concern for many dog owners who are ready for two-legged kids to join the family. It’s important to remember that dogs aren’t reading the Pregnancy and Parenting books that you’re reading and have no idea what’s happening. A new baby brings with it lot of change that can be confusing to your dog. With some planning and preparation, you can help ease him into the transition, setting the stage for a wonderful new friendship with your child.
Learn about Canine Communication. Your dog is always talking to you with his body language. He will tell you when he is uncomfortable with a situation which gives you time to remove him from the situation before his discomfort leads to unwanted behaviors. Become Dog Aware and advocate for his needs.
Make sure your dog has learned his manners. If you haven’t taken him to a basic obedience class, do it before the baby arrives. Having a dog that can follow basic commands will be very helpful when you have your hands full with the new baby. Waiting till the baby arrives to start working on training can be very challenging.
Will there be changes to Fido’s schedule or caretakers once the baby arrives? If so, start introducing those changes ahead of time. If you’re going to start using a dog walker or doggie daycare after the baby is born, go ahead and start those new activities in advance. There are going to be so many changes to your dog’s routine which can lead to stress, so try to get those changes started early so he is accustomed to them by the time the baby comes.
With the baby comes lots of new sights, sounds and smells. Assemble the baby gadgets and set them up where you think they might go, so the dog gets used to them. Let him experience the lights and whistles that some toys might make and the motion that a swing might have. Take your dog out for a few walks with the empty stroller so that the both of you get used to this new way of walking. It will be important for you to see if you can walk the dog and push the stroller comfortably at the same time. You can also play recordings of babies crying and carry around a doll to see how your dog might react to these new sources of stimuli.
Remember that your dog has been an active, loving member of your family for some time and deserves to continue to be. Keep giving him lots of attention and positive reinforcement to help him be a confident and successful member of your family.
(Stay Tuned for Part Two – Welcome Home! Managing Dogs and Babies Together Safely)
Alicia Obando has a BA in Early Childhood Education and a MA in Counseling Children and Adolescents. She has worked on behalf of children and families for over 30 years and in the animal welfare arena for over 15 years, recently becoming certified as a pet loss counselor. In 2015 she started her Chicago company, Pitter Patter Parenting, where she offers pet care, education and support to help families manage kids and pets together safely, while honoring the bond that people have with their pets. She works with families individually in their homes, and also teaches pet safety classes to kids and expectant parents at various locations around the Chicagoland area. www.pitterpatterparenting.com