Preparing your dog for a Baby

Skylar the staffy has some big changes headed her way very soon - not only is she going through a new training program, but very soon a baby is arriving and life as she knows it will never be the same!

While it is an exciting time for everyone, it can also be very stressful on the family and the dog. It's super important to begin preparing your dog for these changes before the baby is home, and have a gameplan on how life with a baby & dog should go! I'd like to share with you some tips and guidelines we give clients as they prepare for their new arrival 💖

Many people worry that their dog will become jealous or feel bad that their dog isn't getting the same attention as they were before - and they make the mistake of trying to compensate with some spoiling and trying to build relationship and bond between dog and baby. This is where people make lots of mistakes - potentially dangerous mistakes. 

Patience is a virtue for all dogs, but for expecting families it's important to start teaching your dog boundaries NOW. Like it or not, your dog is no longer the baby or center of attention, so it's time to start -sooner or later - getting them used to be included but observant: watching from the sidelines.

That means dogs will be crated at night, when owners are not home, and if parents need a dog break. No dogs on furniture, allowed in the nursery, or crowding people when they hold the baby. Overall, there must be a HUGE bubble of respect in place for anything "baby personal space." (That means if your dog jumps up on you, climbs on you without permission, or invades your space uninvited it'a time to start owning your personal space now!) 

The Place Command becomes a dog's home away from home, as they get used to long bouts of resting on their spot and observing life with a baby, without getting underfoot, climbing onto the couch at inopportune times (like when nursing or just holding the baby), pacing the house trying to be "protective" (when really they are so anxious), and rushing around to play pens or cribs when the baby cries.

I know it sounds all of this sounds strict, but the reality is, when a baby is born many families get rid of their dog. No one brings a baby home hoping they can send their dog away, but they get overwhelmed with a dog who doesn't listen, is stressed out/hyper active, and isn't adjusting well to the changes of lifestyle. So, to prevent that from happening, we must get our dogs used to not being the center of attention anymore! This doesn't mean you shouldn't exercise or play with your dog - that's a no brainer! But, many dogs don't know how to settle, listen, and stay...the key to juggling parenting, dog ownership, relationships, and work - all under the same roof!

It's important dogs get exposed to "baby" things before the newborn arrives. That's why we will be playing screaming baby sounds, walking Skylar beside a stroller, dropping things on the ground around her, and getting her used to camping out in Place Command like a champ!

One last thing: dogs do not need to "make friends" with a baby - actually, they need to keep respectful space from the baby at all times. Let's teach them to accept and respect through inclusion and existence, as opposed to physical contact and spacial pressure. Some dogs won't mind the screaming and noise, but many will stress out, and some will even become excited/aroused by it! People unknowingly make dangerous mistakes by putting their babies and little ones in sniffing/touching proximity with a dog who may be nervous or easily over stimulated by baby sounds. Please, be VERY careful and aware of how much interest a dog has in the sounds and motions of a baby or small child before attempting any sort of activity together or in close proximity!

It only takes a second for things to happen, so parents can play it safe by preparing their dog and establishing non-negotiable boundaries and leadership in their household. It brings routine and predictability to both you and your dog - making life turned upside down, just a little bit easier :)

Pitbulls and Babies