Preparing a Pet Friendly Home for the First Child

Dear reader, thank you for the question and congratulations on your bundle of joy! As a new mother myself, it was very important to me to have a successful union between my son Wyatt (now 8 months) and my Velcro pup, Lily. With Lily having no previous exposure to children and already being an adult dog, I had to have realistic expectations. I had some planning/preparing to do.
Small children can be enormous sources of stress for the canine. We all know that dogs’ senses are much stronger than ours; so the barrage of new smells and deafening cries can weigh heavily on the family dog. The baby’s erratic movements and direct stares (never allow) can all be very intimidating. A dog’s breed, age, socialization, environmental exposure and past experiences can all dictate their reaction to this stressor.
Prior to Wyatt’s arrival, I worked on resolving unsafe attention seeking behaviors, like pawing, jumping, etc. Since Lily has a sensitivity to sounds, I played a low recording of a baby’s cry with increasing volume while administering treats. My husband, while I was still in the hospital, even brought home one of Wyatt’s onesies so she could get acquainted with his smell.
When you come home, it’s important to form very positive associations with the new baby in your dog’s mind. Allow your pup to calmly investigate baby at his own pace. Reward positive interactions with treats and attention. Pet/reward your dog for lying calming at your side while you are holding your baby, take him on his regularly scheduled walk with the baby, etc. We want Fido to learn that GOOD things happen when baby is near. Constant reprimand in proximity of the baby will only serve to confuse and
form negative associations. It’s important to pick your battles and choose management techniques over scolding tailored to your specific situation.
Easing your pup’s anxiety with proper and planned interactions set the positive foundation for your baby becoming mobile; an entirely different topic.

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