Tips to Create a Positive Relationship Between Your Pooch and Your Newborn
It’s often said that bringing a puppy home for the first time can turn your world upside-down. It’s like having a newborn in the house as you tend to it, care for it and raise your fur baby right.
So when a new baby comes along, how does that loveable, four-legged pooch handle it? How does the acceptance, trust and friendship flourish?
That’s all up to you!
Here are some tips to help you prepare yourself and forge ahead with that positive fur baby and new baby relationship:
- Sound conditioning – Before baby arrives, play all of those sounds that baby makes – the cooing, the crying – at audible levels for intermittent amounts of time as you do mundane activities around the house (e.g. cooking dinner, watching your favourite television show). No need to make a fuss – just keep going about your business as your dog curiously listens to the sounds and praise, pet and love your dog up after each short session.
- Stroller etiquette – Teach your pooch how to properly walk alongside the stroller by starting this training on your bicycle. Have your dog tethered to your waist (not your wrist – safety first!) and slowly pedal along, praising your pooch when he keeps good distance and good pace with you. Use your outside leg to guide your dog a safe distance away if they get too close to the bike. Stop if they are going to fast and wait for their return to start again. Once your pooch has the hang of it, transition over to your stroller with these positive praise and guidance techniques.
- Furniture boundaries – If your dog doesn’t already do it, asking permission to get on furniture (if you allow them to at all) and immediately getting off when asked should be a priority to prevent any accidents from happening. Teaching your pooch to “up-up!” and “off!” will allow for an extra level of safety and control in the home with your baby. Use their kibble as a treat or a toy play as reward for each consistent “up-up!”/”off!” combination. It should be noted that “off” is also used when your dog jumps up on you or anyone in the home or the outside world. A lightweight house leash can help with these lessons.
- Crate training – This is something I advocate from day one when your puppy first arrives and it should be introduced in a positive way at your dog’s pace – no plopping your dog in the crate, shutting the door and walking away! Feeding their meals inside the crate, making the inside comfy and cozy with their favourite bone, tossing a ball in there to fetch with you are all initial ways to create positive vibes around the crate. Most dogs love having a relaxation zone that the crate provides and it will give you a place to safely keep your pooch when you cannot be as diligent as you may want to be with monitoring and surveillance or if your pooch is a little too rambunctious and needs to calm down. Teaching your dog a command to “park it” or “go to your bed” will be helpful when you need space. Placing clothes or blankets baby has used inside the crate will also help with positive conditioning while adding some extra padding in there.
- Encourage calm curiosity – Calm curiosity is great and your dog will no doubt want to check the newborn out. Ensure your dog has been well exercised and is in a relaxed and familiar atmosphere when you make the positive introduction. Feed your pooch while the baby is in the room. Give your dog extra love and affection while the baby is there. Allow your pooch to sniff a foot with an immediate positive praise, pet or treat with each encounter. Look for all the things your dog is doing right and immediately acknowledge that (i.e. laying down on the floor while the baby is in the room, providing space when asked or looking curiously at you and baby). Refrain from making any corrections for unwanted behaviour – instead divert attention away from the baby and onto something more productive or use the crate to help create space and calm.
- Work on your bond – Doggy routines can take the back-burner once a newborn arrives, so be diligent in keeping up your routine with your dog before, during and after baby comes home. Exercise and behaviour often go hand-in-hand and your dog deserves to have its basic needs met – with all the exercise, affection, nutrition, socialization and training it requires – to ensure a balanced, content canine. Even upping your exercise in the first few weeks when your baby arrives can provide great benefit to the overall transition and there are many stimulation games and mental exercises that can help your pooch achieve that extra energy burn without you having to lift a finger!