Having a child is one of the biggest changes you can ever go through in your life. Or so I'm told as I'm 17 weeks pregnant! One of the things that I am already working on is preparing the dog in my life for the arrival of an interesting little bundle. I am fortunate as my dog Cookie loves children, my niece and nephew have grown up with her in their life and she has adored them. And they her as well as being taught how to respect and behave around her.
However it is still different because Cookie will be living with the baby twenty four hours a day from September onwards. So it may still seem too early to some to be preparing her but I don't agree. Some mothers may notice that as their hormones change so can their dogs behaviour, so far so good in my house. But it is important as an expectant family to be prepared for this with your dogs/s.
Although I am four months pregnant and we have a long way to go, I have already begun little pieces of work to get Cookie used to some of the things she is going to have to do when the baby is around. One of the things I've been doing a lot of is whenever we are with my family, she is learning to walk alongside the niece/nephews buggy. Don't take for granted that its as easy as it looks. You go from walking your dog just next to you to asking them to walk beautifully next to a large contraption with 4 wheels. It can take time to establish a routine with this and I would suggest starting as early as possible. Go out with your friends and family's pushchairs as soon as you can and start putting some work in to making it an enjoyable experience rather than one that is feared.
My dog is deaf, she was tested as totally deaf but sometimes I'm sure she can hear very high pitched noises! If your dog can hear properly you should also think about buying a CD of baby noises - crying, screaming, gurgling and so forth. Its a really great way to get your dog used to the weird and wonderful noises that they are going to be subjected to. If your dog has been living in a nice and peaceful environment with not many disturbances, think how different it will be when a baby comes into the dog's life!
There are lots of other tasks that you can be doing to prepare your dog, here are just a couple to get you started:
- Don't leave your dogs toys littered around the house, have a set box or drawer where they are kept. To teach your dog that not everything lying on the floor is his. It will also be important to designate an area for toys for the baby, that the dog isn't allowed access to. You could also start with this early on.
- Bring new items of furniture into the home to get your dog used to them, such as playpens, car seats etc.
- If you don't want your dog on your bed or sofa when the baby arrives then you need to change your routine before the baby arrives. My dog is allowed on the sofa but only on one particular part of it, so she already knows that part of it is out of bounds. Which means that if I want to sit with her and the baby I can but if I want to sit alone but to have her on the sofa, she already has her own area and I can retreat away from her.
- It can also be worth thinking about introducing a crate as a separate place for your dog to take themselves to. If things get too much, they have their own private place that they can relax and rest in without having to worry about children, noise and being interfered with.
There are many many more things that you can be doing, too many to go through in a blog post. If you would like help with getting ready for the birth of your baby or settling a new baby into the household, do get in touch.