HAPPILY EVER AFTER- Pet & baby edition
For many of us, our pets were our first babies and now it’s time to bring the human baby home. There can be a lot of worry, concern, and questions about pet introductions for many of us.
These feelings and worries can cause additional stress on top of what you may already be feeling in preparing for a new baby. For me, one of my biggest concerns was our dogs, and I’ll discuss mostly dogs today.
It is my hope that these steps and recommendations will help give you some guidance and ideas to alleviate your concerns and reduce your stress!
BEFORE BABY ARRIVES
Brush up on training with your dog, even if you are convinced that they know their basic commands! They’re about to go through a fairly life changing event as well, so making sure that these commands and these behaviors are second nature to them, can be extremely helpful for you once baby arrives. These are some common commands we went over (you may have similar variations): -Sit
-Go to (kitchen, door, bedroom, bed…)
-No touch (this can be helpful when you’re wanting them to move away from the baby, or one of the baby’s toys/items
- Leash training (PetSafe Easy Walk -No Pull Dog Harness and other special leashes and harnesses help with this by preventing the dog from taking the slack out of the leash or forcing the dog’s head to turn if he pulls).
Create a schedule or routine for your pet with respect to their mealtimes and walks, in particular. This will create and maintain a sense of normalcy and expectation for them in the midst of what can sometimes be pure chaos with a new infant. When things are ever changing for your dog as they adjust to the new baby who is taking most of the focus away from them, and as they get used to the crying, and humans who now seem to be up all night, these few things that do not change for them will be very important.
Provide your pet with a space that is theirs and theirs alone. For us, we crated our pups in the evening for bed, but it had been years since we needed to close the door. We would say “go to bed” and in they went where they stayed for the night. This was also their alone space where they would go to lay down, or one of our pups would go to pout. Once our babies arrived, it is also where they would go to escape the chaos sometimes. It’s going to be even more important that they have this “safe” space that is theirs when the baby comes home. (If your pup prefers a dark safe space these crate covers are great).
Socialize, socialize, socialize! Not just with other dogs, but if your dog is not around other people or children a lot, its not a bad idea to start taking them to areas where they can be around others outside of the home. Dog parks can be a good starting point for this, there are off leash and leashed options, and you’ll need to select what is best for your particular dog. We had one dog who did great at off leash play areas, and our other was a stay on the leash kind of guy. If you can, have your dog around kids and other people, bring your dog around to see how they react. Maybe ask a friend if you can join them and their toddler on a stroller walk, with your dog on a leash to see how they behave and if there are any issues or concerns you need to work on based on how they react around the little one in the stroller. (Don’t forget to train your dog how to walk with a stroller).