Looking after a dog brings many benefits to the family such as increased exercise, teaching responsibilities and health benefits. If you already own a dog and are expecting a baby then by adjusting your dog’s routine in advance, you will find that he will adapt more easily when the baby arrives.
It is advisable to ensure your dog is fully vaccinated and wormed. You should also consider neutering your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to fight, stray or bite and are easier to train as they are better at keeping their mind on the job! There are also the obvious benefits of not coming into season or getting pregnant.
Tips for getting dogs used to babies
To help prepare your dog for the sounds that babies make, play recordings of a baby crying, gurgling and screaming for short periods during the day. Initially the sound should be barely audible, increasing the volume gradually as your dog grows accustomed to the noises.
Get your dog used to baby powder, soaps, shampoos and baby milk by using them at home in the weeks leading up to your baby’s arrival.
Playpens, cots, pushchairs, highchairs and changing mats should be in place before the baby arrives too.
Your new baby will take up a lot of your time and you will have extra visitors calling to see the baby. Some dogs may find these changes particularly difficult, so it’s a good idea to help prepare them for a new routine as early as possible.
If you intend to keep your dog in a separate area when certain people visit, help your dog get used to this before your baby arrives, by placing them behind a stair gate occupied with a tasty chew a few times a day for several minutes at a time.
When you first come home from hospital with your new baby, your dog will probably be very excited. The best way to carry out this first introduction is when the dog is tired after a long walk and play session.
At first, say hello to your dog without the baby in case they get excited and jump up at you. Later, the baby should be introduced in a quiet room where the dog has few associations – not in a place where they usually sleep or eat.
Do not put your baby on the floor with the dog and never leave your dog unsupervised with a baby, not even for a second.
Dogs and toddlers
Toddlers are active and inquisitive. Never leave your dog alone with your child – however good your dog is. Encourage gentle interaction at all times: no pulling, grabbing or sitting on your dog.
Avoid your child wandering around with food and never allow them to take toys from the dog.
Give your dog a quiet space to rest and eat. A dog crate and a baby gate are valuable tools.
For more information visit: www.bluecross.org.uk/1958/looking-after-your-dog.html
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