Preparing Your Dog for a New Baby

Your Pregnancy and Your Dog

boxer dog with pregnant woman
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There's nothing as exciting as preparing for the birth of a baby. While you're planning the color of the nursery and picking out items for your baby registry, don't overlook one very important step in getting ready for your new baby: preparing the family dog.

When to Start Preparing Your Dog for a New Baby

If you're wondering when the best time is to start preparing your dog for the new baby, the answer is simple - now! Don't wait until you're 9 months pregnant or until the baby arrives to get your dog used to the idea of having a baby in the house. Start getting him ready now. The more time you have before the baby arrives, the more likely it is your dog will be comfortable with the changes that are about to take place in your home.

There are several things you can do to help prepare a dog for the new addition to the family. The following tips can help take some of the stress out of bringing home your new baby:

Obedience Training

One of the first steps you should take to prepare a dog for a new baby is to start working on obedience training. A well-mannered dog who knows basic obedience commands is easier to manage than one who is out of control. Mastering basic skills now, such as sit, down, and walking on a leash, will make life much easier when you are trying to care for the needs of your newborn.

Work on Behavior Issues

There are several dog behavior problems that can be annoying, or even dangerous, when you are caring for a newborn baby. Things such as barking and destructive behavior can be a nuisance, creating more work for you or startling the baby out of sleep. Jumping up or aggressive behavior can pose a real danger to you and the baby. Since these are not problems that go away overnight, start working on eliminating these problem behaviors now. You may want to consider calling in a dog trainer or animal behaviorist to help deal with any of these issues.

Consider Crate Training

If you haven't used a crate for your dog in the past, you may want to consider introducing him to crate training now. Even a housebroken dog can benefit from being crate trained. Just like cribs and play yards provide a safe haven for babies, a crate gives your dog a safe place to call his own. He may enjoy having a place of his own to escape from the baby for awhile. It also gives you a safe place to confine your dog when you need to keep him out from under your feet. Just remember that a dog should not be crated for more than a few hours at a time.

Socialize Your Dog to Babies

Many dogs are never around babies until their family brings one home. When you consider everything that comes along with a baby - new sounds and smells, changes to the daily routine, sharing attention - it's easy to see that it can be a confusing and frightening experience for a dog. Prepare your dog for all these things by introducing him to babies before you bring your newborn home. You can invite over friends and family members with babies to socialize or even play a recording of baby sounds. By the time you bring your baby home, your dog should be well prepared for all the new sights, sounds, and smells!