This blog post comes from Tina Zarate, owner of Ain't Misbehaving Pet Training. She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and is certified by the Certification for Professional Dog Trainers.
Tina currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband, daughter, and three dogs.
Having a baby can be a wonderful, exciting new adventure but you may be worried on how your four legged baby may react. Start early and follow our tips to help prepare your dog for a new member of the family:
1. Introduce new baby equipment in a positive way before baby arrives. Many of these things can be bulky, loud, and move erratically. Learn how your dog reacts to them prior to your baby’s arrival in order to nip potential problems in the bud. Pair the appearance of these items with yummy treats.
2. Teach your dog to spend time away from you in a positive way. Put your dog in a crate, behind a baby gate and/or another room with a tasty Kong or marrow bone.
3. Refresh your dog’s basic manners. Practice these skills while you are seated or in bed (like when you are breastfeeding) or pushing a stroller.
4. Take your dog to the veterinarian and get him updated on his vaccinations and get his blood work checked.
5. Change your dog’s feeding and walks schedule gradually so your dog doesn't expect dinner or walks at an exact time every day.
6. Interview potential dog walkers and introduce your dog to them before your due date. Having a dog walker come in and take your dog out, keeps your dog happy and gives you time to bond with the baby.
7. Learn to recognize signs of stress in dogs. Check out this blog post on problem prevention and dog body language from Ain't Misbehaving for more on what to look for.
8. Download baby sounds (Baby Sounds for Pets CD) to get your dog gradually accustomed to these new sounds.
9. Carry a doll and practice how you will interact with your dog when you are holding the baby, changing diapers, going for a walk. This enables you to see how your dog responds and how you interact with your dog when your hands are occupied.
10. If your dog has any behavior issues (food guarding, reactivity, touch sensitivity, etc), consult a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) prior to your baby’s arrival.