Today’s blog is Part 2 to “Scoot Over Fido, here comes baby!” 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.
If you read my January blog post (Part One – Preparation) then you know that there are lots of things you can do before the baby comes home to help prepare your dog for the transition. Once the baby comes home, you’ll want to manage the environment to allow everyone to spend time together safely.
There’s no need to rush the introduction between dog and baby. The first few days, Mom’s recovery and comfort takes priority. This is a critical time for parents and baby to bond. It’s ok to wait a few days before you introduce the dog to the baby. The introduction doesn’t need to involve close proximity. Take your time. Be patient. All dogs are different, so pay attention to your dog’s comfort level. Remember to reward your dog frequently for desired behaviors during this time.
When you are ready to have the dog and baby in the room together, make sure to provide close supervision. Never allow your dog access to your baby without full awake adult supervision. A parent who is medicated or tired is not fully awake. A baby can go from boring to really interesting in a heartbeat.
You want your dog to continue to be included as part of the family, but you also need to have ways to keep him separated while you are busy and not able to provide close supervision. This can be done with tethering, gating or crating. You are creating places where your dog will be successful because they have limited choices. This can include a baby gate between the baby and the dog or having the dog’s crate set up in the living room where everyone congregates. You can also tie the dog to a heavy table so that he can’t reach the baby (tethering). These are all ways to keep the dog included in the family activities in a way that keeps everyone safe.
Keeping Fido Occupied:
You need to practice these methods of confinement long before the baby comes home. The dog needs to learn to be by himself, have independent time. You can use toys, treats, and puzzles as ways to keep him happy while confined. Crate/Gate training is a wonderful management tool that can be used very successfully for the duration of the dog’s life. Begin early and always be positive. Using toys, treats and puzzles are also good ways to keep Fido occupied when you are able to supervise but you are caring for the baby. Find out what kinds of things your dog really values and stock up on them ahead of time so you can pull them out when it’s baby feeding time.
Supervise and Have Fun! The work is worth it. The benefits of having a dog with your children far outweighs the challenges.
For more information about upcoming Dog + Baby classes or how you can schedule a private consult in your home, visit www.pitterpatterparenting.com
(This information is based on the teachings of Family Paws, a wonderful resource for families with dogs. For additional information check out www.familypaws.com or call their support hotline at 877-247-3407)