Introducing the New Baby

So you’re expecting, congratulations!! As a mom of two kids under six, I know how you’re feeling. Will my furbaby accept my newborn? What challenges are we going to be facing? How can I get Fido prepared? Don’t worry, I got you!
      If you have checked out my website at all you know that we own three dogs. We have had Rosie the longest and we got Trapper just before we found out we were pregnant with our first over 7 years ago(has it been that long??). For sure I was nervous about introducing my newborn daughter to our dogs. Here are a few things we did to get our dogs ready for the big arrival.
    -I got a cd of a baby crying. Literally all it was. Hours and hours of infant/toddlers crying. I played it over and over again for my dogs throughout my pregnancy. To this day crying babies does not faze them.
   -As you collect your baby things introduce them to your dog. Turn them on, let them check it out. Once the novelty wears off they will no longer care about the item. Allow your dogs to investigate the nursery as you set it up. This includes noisy toys your baby probably won’t touch for the first 6 months. You don’t need a lot. Just a couple. Don’t keep them away from the baby stuff. This includes the breast pump if you plan to breastfeed.
     -Take your dogs for a walk with the stroller. If you feel silly walking them with an empty stroller put a doll in it. Seriously. My dogs were more worried about having a stroller added to their walks than anything else so, do this regularly. I taught my dogs to walk on the left side of the stroller because I am right handed. I found it was easier to control the stroller with my stronger hand/wrist. So my dogs learned to stay on the left side of the stroller when on a walk. You can teach your dog to walk on whichever side works best for you. If your dog pulls then I suggest working on teaching your dog leash manners to make this task easier. If you live in Warman, Sk area feel free to check out our services page for available class options.
    -Install the car seat early. We installed the car seat during the last trimester. This gave us ample opportunity to teach our dogs to leave them alone. By the time our daughter came, they couldn’t care less about the car seat being there. I am also going to point out that babies will come on their own time. We installed our car seat three months early. Some people laughed and said it was way too early. Well, our daughter arrived 3 weeks early. So, in the end, it worked out perfectly!
   -Create a safe space for your dog if he doesn’t have one yet. This is important. He will need somewhere to go where he feels safe. Living with an infant/toddler can sometimes be stressful for dogs in the beginning. Until they figure out the new normal this is important.
   Now, this is all the prep you can do before your baby arrives. During the last trimester, I am sure you have already decided who is going to stay with your animals at home while you are at the hospital. If your planning to have a home birth decide who will be taking your dog for a couple of days for you. This allows you to focus on your pregnancy and the task at hand.
   After you have your baby here are few things you can do to prepare your dog for the big meeting.
   -Make sure you send something that smells like your newborn to your dog. This will help him to familiarize himself with your baby when he meets her.
   -Right before your dog meets your baby pass your baby to someone else and go greet your dog first. Chances are he hasn’t seen you in a while and he is going to want to check you out. You are going to smell different. Your dog is going to know that you have changed somehow. He may get confused but let him sniff you out. He will likely smell your baby on you as well.
   -When we introduced our babies to our dogs we kept our baby in the car seat. We held the car seat high enough so they can smell their feet first. One of us had control over the dogs while the other held the car seat. Then after a minute or so we set the car seat on the floor. This gave us more control over the dogs. Since we had two at the time we did this twice. Once with each dog. We did this three times with our second baby since we had three dogs by the time he arrived. This also tells the dogs that the baby is nothing to worry about. We did some tricks with the dogs for the baby to create a positive experience. We didn’t worry about keeping our dogs away from our baby.
    -Our dogs slept in crates at night the first few months after we brought the baby home. They accepted this because they slept in their crates(safe place) at night for a few weeks before we brought our baby home.
     -Even after all of that, you do still need to keep an eye on your dogs. Pay attention to how they feel about a certain situation. Anytime your dog seems uncomfortable simply put him in his safe place with his favorite chewy. Chewing releases endorphins into the brain so this will help to relax your dog. You can use a frozen stuffed Kong for this as well. When you have a few mins spend some one-on-one time with your dog. This is easier said than done but it is important. Your dog needs to know that he is still important.
     -Try to get out for walks with your baby and dog regularly. This will also increase the bond between your dog and your baby. When you are ready try to get out with just your dog. I am sure both you and your dog will enjoy a short break from the baby. That is ok. Babies are a lot of work and a short walk with your best friend can do wonders for you!
   When your baby is old enough to start moving keep an eye on your dog. If your dog is nervous about the baby rolling, crawling, walking just remove your dog from the situation. This isn’t going to be a forever situation. Just a for now situation. Some dogs are ok with babies until they are mobile. This is a new normal for your dog and he just needs the time/space to get used to it.
    For example. When my daughter started rolling Rosie got stressed out. There were a few incidents where Kallie rolled towards Rosie. Even though she was still nowhere near her, Rosie bared her teeth. Right away I removed Rosie from the situation. After awhile everytime she got uncomfortable she just left the room.
Be consistent. As Kallie got older and started crawling Rosie would simply leave the room when she got uncomfortable. It wasn’t til Kallie was able to throw a ball that Rosie decided that Kallie isn’t that bad. Now, Kallie, is 5 going on 6 and Rosie will play with Kallie with no issues.
     By the time my second came along Rosie just left every time. Now, both of my kids are normal enough to her that she doesn’t care anymore what they do. Unless someone has a ball. It’s just the first year or two that is the hardest on dogs. I feel it is because they don’t understand what is going on. They have to figure out what is the new normal and the minute they get it all figured out, it changes again.
   So if you take the time throughout your pregnancy to prepare your dog and you give your dog space and time he needs to adjust you should be alright. However, if you are concerned about some things your dog is doing contact your local dog trainer. Most of the time it can be fixed.
   What are some baby/dog introducing tips do you have? What has worked for you? Let us know in the comments below. You might even help someone else with their situation!
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