Amy Smith is no doubt one of the most experienced dog trainers in this country. She sees over 70 puppies a week through her incredibly popular Amy’s Puppy Pre-school she shares with us some important tips on how to slowly make adjustments when dealing with your dog in preparation for a new member of the family to arrive. Amy thinks it is useful to revisit some of the basic dog training techniques such as using a crate is you have previously used one with your dog. Having someone new to look after can be an overwhelming experience for yourself and may have your fur-baby wondering why his cuddle sessions have been cut short. However with the correct information at hand and applying a routine, the new experience will be an enjoyable and special time for everyone.
EXPECTING A NEW BABY… IT’S A HUGE CHANGE FOR EVERYONE IN THE FAMILY, ESPECIALLY THE DOG!
Nothing prepares you for the changes in your life when you have your first baby. The minute your baby is born your whole world functions around 3 hourly feeds. A shower and getting dressed for the day is a huge achievement; forget preparing yourself a normal meal, or even getting to enjoy a hot cup of tea.
In the last couple of months of pregnancy new parents spend all their time getting organised for the baby: filling the house with baby furniture, toys, assembling prams and installing car seats….
But what happens to the family dog….. ?
All of sudden his world changes too. You must prepare him for those changes. A new baby in the house is likely to mean the dog’s routine, eating habits and environment will change. You may want to keep certain areas of the house dog-free for the hygiene and safety of your new baby. Don’t make these changes after the baby comes otherwise your dog may feel this new tiny human has turned his world upside down. Make these changes a good couple of months before bub is due.
Keeping the dog out of certain rooms is easily done with baby gates. Make it very rewarding and worth his while to spend time in the new designated areas. I would suggest some enrichment toys that dispense food, a nice comfy sleeping area and his crate if he is crate trained. Does your dog sleep in your room? If he does that’s fine, however introduce some variety in his sleeping space because you may end up changing your mind on that especially during 3am feeds. So re- introduce a crate, sleeping in the laundry or outside of your bedroom and again do all these things well before the birth.
Prior to the birth of your baby it’s a great idea to practice your dog’s basic obedience training.
Teaching your dog to sit while you carry a baby around is far more appropriate than having your dog jumping up to investigate. You can practice this with a doll and use the app to simulate the sound. Reward your dog for keeping his four feet on the floor or sitting. Talk to your trainer if you feel you need extra assistance.
Sitting down on the lounge or in a feeding chair anywhere from six to twelve times a day is what you need to expect with a new bub and guess what? It’s exhausting. Your dog may be a lounge dog or even a lap dog. Your lap is going to be pretty full feeding your new baby. Before you sit down to feed organise your dog with management of space and the areas you have set up for him. You can also use your lead and tie him to the leg of the lounge. This isn’t a punishment as you are keeping him with you. Give him his dog bed or mat so he can be with you, just not on you.
Sitting down to feed is also a nice time to bring out his favourite enrichment toy and give the dog a job. In fact I wouldn’t bother feeding him from bowls anymore, I would only feed from enrichment toys and feed when you feed. You dog may end up getting six tiny meals to make up his whole day’s food. Your dog won’t feel like baby feeding time is boring – he will look forward to it.
Nothing is better than when you can start getting out of the house with your new baby. A walk in the fresh air is healthy and a pram can help an unsettled baby fall asleep. If you plan on taking the dog with you then you need to make sure he is comfortable walking with you with the pram. Walking close to a pram is also going to be new to your dog so put some practice in before bub comes along. Your dog may be fine or he may need some extra training – you won’t know until you try. If your dog pulls on the lead you will need to work with a trainer to teach nice, loose-lead walking. It is very hard to walk with a dog and a pram if the dog pulls. My golden rule is never tie the dog to the pram. Just hold the lead as you push your pram along.
Preparing the family dog for the new baby needs to be well planned.
New parents are going to be tired and very busy during the first few weeks so don’t be afraid to hire a dog walker to help you out.
The day you bring your baby home, make sure your dog has had a good walk and his energy is drained. Bring baby home in the car capsule and spend some time with your dog – he will have missed you while you were in hospital. When you are ready you can introduce your dog to the new baby. When I did this with two of my boys I unwrapped them from their blankets so they seemed more human like. I had both my dogs on the lead and I felt very relaxed, we kept the whole experience very positive for the dogs.
If you would like more information on any of the tips here please visit Amy’s website Amy’s Puppy Pre-school