For many dog owners, their dog is their first precious little one. And for a long time, he may have been an only child. Hence, there is a lot of planning and preparing that you need to do when you are pregnant with your first child before your little one comes.
With the appearance of a new member, you also have to be more careful with your pet as many problems may pop up. Recently, we've received lots of questions about this: what to prepare for your dog, can you use baby shampoo on dogs or how to introduce a dog to the baby?
Read on and you will know exactly what to do with your dog as well as your baby.
Some people consider giving up their dogs with the impending birth of a baby, thinking that a dog will not be safe for their little one. This is a sad state of affairs as having dogs and babies together actually makes a lot of sense.
You just have to do it right!
You will find for instance that you can use some of the same products, saving you time and money. You can double up on cotton balls. You can use baby diapers for dogs once you’ve cut a hole for the tail.
Moreover, you can use baby oil to treat sore or dry skin on your puppy, although you need to make sure he doesn’t inhale it so keep it away from his nostrils.
Baby shampoo can be used on dogs selectively, and especially ideal for sensitive ones. You can also use some brands of baby wipes to clean their ears.
Be very careful that your product does not contain propylene glycol or fluoride which are poisonous to dogs. Also, do not use baby toothpaste on your dog’s teeth.
If your dog knows you at all, he will know the big change is coming. As you grow with your baby belly, you will look, move, act and smell different. But for safety reasons, you need to implement more preparations to ensure your dog is ready for what is about to happen.
There are a number of reasons for why your dog needs to be prepared for the baby’s arrival:
You’ll need to help your dog adjust to all the changes, and also teach your dog to interact safely with your baby. Here are 10 things you should be putting into place:
1. Ensure that your dog has basic obedience skills and will obey voice commands. You will very often have no spare hands once the baby is born.
Make sure your dog can sit, stay and drop. Also, fetch could be a helpful skill if you don’t mind dog saliva on your diapers and baby.
2. One skill which your pup may not have but which can be invaluable is the "Go away" or "Shoo" command, for use when one of you is particularly stressed. Teach this before the baby comes and you will feel a bit calmer for putting this into place.
3. Set up the baby’s room and introduce as many smells as possible a few months before the baby arrives. Use baby powders, oils, washes and lotions on yourself to get him used to them.
Play recordings of crying babies (if you play them at 2 am, you could train your partner to get up too :D). Start washing your puppy with baby shampoo, so he becomes familiar with the smell, and will recognize the baby as a sibling.
4. Introduce new items early, like the high chair, rocker, stroller et cetera. Give your dog time to get accustomed to them and to negotiating his way around them.
5. Anticipate the changes you’ll make to your dog’s routine as best you can and introduce these a month before the baby comes. Your new schedule may be way off the one your child decides, but if the dog knows how to adjust then that is a start.
Even better, you may teach the dog to have no regular schedule, because that is likely to happen with your baby too.
6. Consider hiring a dog walker or asking a friend for help with walks after your baby is born, as then the regular times, your dog is used to be kept. (This may also give you a tiny opportunity to grab five minutes respite)
If you are going to do this, make sure you introduce the new person to your dog before it starts, and do at least one walk altogether.
7. Do not give your dog extra attention in the lead up to the baby’s arrival because you feel guilty about the impending changes. This will just make it harder for your dog when little one comes.
You are guaranteed to have less care to give your dog when the baby comes, and he needs to adjust to this. Possibly good advice for your partner too.
8. Consider any changes you’ll want to make to the dog’s behavior and train him for these before the baby comes. For instance, you may be expecting the dog to no longer jump on the sofa, sleep on the bed, or put his paws up on you.
Your dog’s traveling arrangements may change in the car with the baby seat, and you may now expect him to travel further back or in a crate.
9. You can try using a lifelike doll to train your dog to interact directly with your baby. He can get used to the constant presence of this little one in your arms.
Also, you could teach him to nuzzle the baby’s hands or feet. He will realize pretty quickly that this is just a doll, but it could help training for a little while.
10. Get your dog used to being handled by rough little hands by training him for this and giving treats. Poke, prod and pull at your dog and teach him not to react unsafely.
Once your baby is born, arrange for someone to take an item from the child to your dog to get used to the smell of your little one.
Also, when you come home from the hospital, make sure the dog is leashed, then allow him to approach you and the baby slowly. Be as relaxed as you can because the puppy will feed off your anxiety.
Reward good behavior if your dog approaches your baby in good manners. Otherwise, if your dog acts irritatingly, you should gently discipline and remove him from your baby’s presence. Try the process again a little later.
Ideally, you want your dog to love your child. Include him as much as possible in your daily routine. When you are interacting with the baby, make this as fun and enjoyable as possible for your puppy too.
Also, make things more calm and boring when your little one is down for a nap (you’ll be exhausted and wiped out on the sofa, and things will be more quiet and boring anyway). Be sure to give your dog one-on-one attention time with lots of hugs and petting too.
If you set in place all of these changes before the baby comes, you will be less likely to get stressed or frustrated with your dog when he or she comes home.
This will make your life easier (believe me, with a newborn, your life will be hard enough), and your dog will be more likely to enjoy and love your baby.
And because you can also use baby shampoo on your dog along with the baby, your whole house will have a lovely fragrance too.
Amy Duncan is the founder of KindMommy, a blog where she's providing helpful information about pregnancy and many useful tips for young parents. Besides writing, Amy loves to cook and travel with her friends and family. You can also find Amy on Twitter (@AmyKindmommy).