If you have a dog, don't assume that he's going to be as happy about your new baby's arrival as you are. According to animal behavior experts, it's important to prepare your pup for your newest family member ahead of time (as soon as you know you're pregnant) and not after you've given birth. And remember, there are two important transition times for your dog: when the baby arrives and when the baby becomes mobile. Here are some tips to ensure your dog adapts smoothly during what an be a difficult transitional time.
Before the baby gets home:
1. Work on the basics—sit, stay, not barking or pulling on a leash before the baby arrives. "If the dog is not behaved without the baby, of course it's going to be more difficult once the baby is around," says Jennie Willis Jamtgaard, owner of Animal Behavior Insights in an interview with CNN.
2. Ceate a baby-free dog zone where your dog can hang out stress-free. For large dogs, Colleen McDaniel, owner of the Academy of Canine Behavior in Bothell, Washington, recommends creating a barrier out of simple materials, such as lattice fencing. For smaller dogs, make a hole in the barrier so that the dog can get in and out easily.
Introducing your dog to your baby:
1. Have one person be in charge of the dog and another in charge of the baby when you bring the infant for the first time. Bring the dog outside and give him time to calm down; the other person can bring the baby inside and get settled.
2. Let the dog smell some of the baby's things so that they learn the baby's scent.
3. Put the T.V. on—this often settles dogs, as they know people will be in the same place for a while.
4. Keep the dog around when the baby is around, even when the baby is crying. You don't want the dog have a negative association with the baby (i.e. he always gets banished when the baby is around). Give the dog treats when the baby is around so he has a positive association with the baby.
When the baby becomes mobile:
1. Show your child how to touch the dog gently. Reward your baby for being gentle. If the child does behave aggressively toward the dog, the dog should go away until the child learns to be gentle.
2. Don't leave the child and the dog unsupervised in a room together.
Do you have a dog? What kinds of things did you do to prepare it for your baby's arrival? How did you introduce them? How do your baby and your dog get along?