Welcoming a new baby can be exciting, and nervous but your dog can sense and will mirror these emotions that you are feeling. It is important to maintain yourself as the pack leader and prepare your pup as best that you can, for your new arrival.
– Spend your nine months during pregnancy to work out any unwanted habits. Your goal is to bring home your new baby to a well-behaved, calm dog. Enroll in a training class, practice with a baby doll, introduce new smells (baby powder etc).
– Establish boundaries around the nursery. Start with the nursery being off-limits. Condition your dog to understand that there is an invisible barrier that she may not cross without your permission, or you may wish to install a gate. Eventually, you can allow your dog to explore and sniff certain things in the room with your supervision. Then you decide when she needs to leave. Repeat this activity a few times before the baby arrives. This will let your dog know that this room belongs to its pack leader and must be respected at all times.
– Before bringing the baby home, give your dog permission to smell something with your babies scent on it from a distance. This will help create respect for the baby.
– Control the introduction. Make sure your dog is well exercised beforehand and ensure your dog is in a calm-submissive state. The mother or father holding the baby must be in a completely calm state. The dog should be allowed to sniff the baby, but at a respectful distance. It may be good to keep the dog on leash. During this first meeting, do not bring the baby too close. Eventually, the dog can be allowed to get closer and closer to the baby. By doing this, you are teaching the dog to respect the baby as another pack leader. You want to associate the baby with good things, so reward her polite behaviour by providing treats and praise.
– Teach your baby. Once your child is in the exploratory state, it is important to supervise all interactions between him or her and the dog – Do not leave the baby alone with the dog. This is a great opportunity to teach your child not to bother the dog, yank her tail, etc. These lessons on mutual respect cannot begin early enough. Too many children have inadvertently provoked an otherwise peaceful dog, simply because they were unsupervised or their parents had not given them proper instruction.
– Don’t forget the dog. A dog does not need toys or special attention to feel important; you simply need to maintain the routine, providing daily walks and consistent leadership. This will help your dog feel secure and allow her to relax about the new addition to the family.
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