How to prepare your dog for your new baby

Luckily, man’s best friend is also man’s most adaptable friend. The vast majority of dogs will do great with kids — just remember to start training as soon as possible so that your pooch has plenty of time to prepare.

Before the baby arrives

Let your dog observe kids. When your dog meets your newborn, it shouldn’t be the first time he or she is introduced to a child. Take your dog to a playground to experience children running, playing, and yelling, or keeping the television tuned to a kids’ station so your pet can get used to the sounds. If the dog seems stressed around children, seek professional help before the newborn arrives.

Practice grabbing your dog gently. Your baby will most likely tug on your dog’s tail, so it’s essential to teach your dog to be patient when this happens. Practice gently grabbing your dog in different places and tell him how good he is each time.

Give your dog a baby blanket to smell. Since your baby’s blanket will be a new object in the home, it’s important that your dog is comfortable with it before the baby makes an appearance. Buy the blanket in advance and get your scent on it. Your dog will sniff it and realize that it smells like one of the family.

Teach your dog the difference between baby toys and dog toys. Baby toys will be popular items around the house, and they tend to look very similar to dog toys. Teach your dog that baby toys are off limits early on. Wilson recommends putting vanilla extract on the toys and saying “leave it” while touching them.

Change your praise word. Refrain from calling your dog “boy” or “girl” to avoid confusion and jealousy when there’s a newborn around. If your dog comes up to you when you say ‘boy’ and realizes you were talking about the baby, he could become upset.

Teach your dog to leap only when invited. An uninvited jump on the couch or bed will cause trouble when you’re holding a newborn. If a dog is accustomed to uninvited leaps, gently lead them off by the collar. Wilson recommends pausing, telling them to sit on the floor, and then patting the couch.

Train dogs to eat above face level. Babies and dogs will be at the same head level, so pups need to learn to eat above that level in order to avoid snatching the baby’s food. Wilson recommends holding a treat near the dog’s face, pausing, giving your dog a clear, verbal “okay,” and then lifting the treat up and allowing them to grab it.

After the baby has arrived

Don’t force interaction. Many dogs will be curious about the newcomer, but others might ignore the baby. Either way, allow dogs to move away from the child and investigate at their own pace. Animals are fight-or-flight. You definitely don’t want to remove the flight option. In addition, make sure the child doesn’t pursue the pet. Most of the issues between dogs and babies occur when a child interrupts an eating dog or pursues a pup who wants privacy.

Be happy around your dog and baby. If the dog is ignoring the baby, they probably will still pay attention to you. Wilson recommends acting loving towards your dog when you’re holding the baby. This will help the dog have positive associations with the baby.

Congratulations and good luck!

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