Thursday, March 4, 2010

And Baby Makes Four - How to Introduce Your Dog to the Newest Member of the Pack

Congratulations!! You have a new baby. Not having a child myself, I can only imagine all the changes that take place in your life once your beautiful bundle of joy arrives. Although I am no expert at human "momminess", hopefully I can help shed some light on how to make the transition easier for your dog.

Unfortunately, sometimes when a new baby arrives, the pet who was formerly the "baby" may find his life has drastically altered. The house where he may have once enjoyed free reign suddenly has rooms that have become "off limits" or certain pieces of furniture where he may once have napped, are no longer allowed for peaceful slumber. Stuffed toys which have always been a favorite play toy, may no longer be appropriate toys for your pet. Daily walks or play sessions may be reduced or disappear altogether as new parents understandably, have less free time.

What's worse, is that many times dogs that have always been indoors are suddenly relegated to the backyard isolated from the family that once doted on him. This lack of attention and change in lifestyle while not meant to be hurtful, can cause the dog to become stressed and lead to the development of negative behavioral issues. Tragically, many pets are given up because of the arrival of a new baby.

The key to success is preparation. Just as you have had 9 months to prepare for the arrival of your baby, your dog is no different. He too should be a participant in the preparation with specific exercises designed for him so that when the baby arrives, you will be confident of the behavior you can expect from him and vice versa.

The Humane Society of the United States is a great resource for information regarding your pets. They have written an article entitled "Introducing Your Pet and New Baby" that is filled with great suggestions. Here are just a few examples:

1) Before the baby arrives, take you pet to the veterinarian. Have the vet give your dog a thorough check-up and make sure all vaccinations are up to date.

2) Focus on obedience in the time prior to the arrival of the baby. Practice having the dog lie calmly next to you. Teach him not to jump and curb any "mouthing" or "play biting" behavior.

3) If the mother-to-be is especially close with the pet, have someone else begin to spend more time with the dog. This way the dog will have an opportunity to bond with another person and not feel "lost" when the new mother is unable to spend as much time as she used to with the dog.

4) Set aside time each day to spend one on one with the pet - even if it's just a grooming session, a short walk, or some dedicated backyard ball time.

5) Have friends with babies and young children over to the house so that the dog gets used to babies.

6) If the baby's room will be off limits, start training the dog right away to stay out of the room. Or set aside a certain part of the room where the dog will be allowed to stay. Give him special toys and treats when he stays in his "part" of the room.

7) Once the mother has gone to the hospital, bring a blanket or some clothing with the baby's smell home for the dog to sniff so he becomes familiar with the baby's scent.

These are just a few of the tips that you will find in the Humane Society's article. To read the full article, please click here. Dogs and babies can live successfully together with each getting the proper attention they deserve, but it is important to prepare your pet for the arrival of their new "brother" or "sister", just as you prepare any other member of your family.

1 comment: