1. Smell You Later
Dogs see the world through their noses. Do allow your dog to sniff your baby while you are holding her. Gently praise your pup while he is being introduced to your newborn. If you have an energetic dog, have a partner hold your dog on leash. Studies have shown that children who grow up with pets have less allergies. When your newborn is napping, take time to cuddle your dog. Your dog will also smell your baby’s smells on you and understand there is a new family member.
2. Positive Associations
Have your dog’s favorite treats in small mason jars strategically placed in rooms you spend the most time in. While you are feeding your baby, you can toss treats to your dog as well. Also have a jar by the door to your yard, so you can toss treats to your pup. When you ask your dog to go outside, you can pay him in dog treats for being a good listener. Note that if you are treating your dog throughout the day, you will need to cutback on their meal portions. I recommend putting aside the food they can eat for the day and putting it in the jars. The best dog trainers in the world do not bowl feed their dogs. If you are free feeding your dogs, stop. The bar is not open all day. Schedule your dog’s feedings twice a day and an allotment for rewarding throughout the day. Schedule a friend to exercise your dog for you in the first few weeks you are home with your baby. If your dog plays well with others, look into local dog day cares. A tired dog is a well behaved dog.
3. Crates, Gates and Tethers
Set your dog up to succeed. Boundaries are beautiful. You will need safety zones for your dog while he is learning his new boundaries. Boundaries help your dog learn how to successfully cohabitate with your newest addition. Simply putting your dog outside will not teach your dog to behave appropriately around your baby. Keeping your dog outside all the time will create a frustrated canine who will display nuisance behaviors such as barking, digging, and chewing. Inside crates provide a safe space where your dog can be while you have your hands full. I recommend crate training while you are pregnant. If you have more than one dog, each dog needs their own crate. Baby gates are fantastic for dogs and babies alike. I recommend the type that can be attached in your door and has an easy to open gate within. If a baby gate is not secured, it doesn’t help anyone. No one likes stepping over gates, and they can be dangerous if not secured. Indoor training tethers can help with boundary acclimation as well. Do not allow your dog to be untethered in the room while your newborn is on the floor. Having your dog tethered in room gives you options for management while acclimation is taking place. Tethers can be made from short cables, fastened to an eye hook securely attached to the wall. Make sure your dog is securely tethered to something stationary, as dragging furniture could be far worse. Tethers allow your dog to observe you without physical barriers. Never leave your baby unsupervised with your dog.
4. Food, Toys, and Chews
One of the most important resources for new moms with babies is rest. There is nothing worse than you and your baby finally falling asleep, only to be awakened by your dog barking at the neighbor’s cat. (This is why crates and gates are important). Have your dog’s favorite toys available. Stuffed frozen Kong toys can be stocked in your freezer. It is an excellent way to feed a meal. Bully sticks, enzymatic dental chews, or other high value toys that they enjoy are critical for nap time as well. If you have more than one dog, these types of rewards are best given during quiet time in individual crates. Most dogs will argue over high value resources, and if they don’t, someone loses out.
5. Poop is Precious
Dogs have better senses than humans, except for taste. They have far less taste buds than humans. They can see better, smell better, hear better, and like to eat poop. If your dog can reach the disposed diaper, they will. Make sure your baby’s used diaper is securely disposed of, or locked away in a can with a lid or Diaper Genie, and out of reach. Nobody enjoys poop breath.
About the Author
Lisa Giesick, mother of two, has worked with animals for over 30 years. She is a CPDT-KA dog trainer and the owner of Ohana Pet. Her educational background includes child development, psychology, criminology, and basic & advanced Humane Academies. Lisa lives on the island of Maui with her four dogs, six cats, turtle, and husband.