Are you expecting a new TWO-legged family member? Are you concerned about how your dog may feel or react?
Firstly, congratulations! Secondly, read on.
By now, you may have already started to change a few things at home in anticipation of your new arrival. New furniture. Baby clothes. Decorating. Perhaps it’s getting a little harder to take your four-legged family member for that daily walk? (Totally understandable by the way!) So with all these changes happening, and certainly more to come, how do we help our dogs adjust to life with a TWO-legged sibling?
In short, there’s no short answer. Every family and every dog is different. But there are several things you should do BEFORE bub arrives to help your dog cope.
- Ensure your dog has a safe place that he can escape to should he need some space. This can be a crate or kennel, a comfy dog bed, outside etc. The important thing to remember is that your dog must feel that this is a safe place and must have access to it at all times. Also, it’s always a good idea to ensure bub learns that this is the dog’s place, and if he goes in his crate, he is to be left alone. Dog’s need a little time out sometimes too!
- Purchase a few food enrichment toys (e.g. Kongs) and some extra regular toys to give to your dog when bub arrives (and also for when you don’t have time to take him for a walk some days.) Not only do these give your dog something to do, but mental stimulation can help relieve stress too.
- Chat to our friendly vets and nurses about calming products you can purchase to give for those first few months to help your dog adjust. (Many of these are effective, easy to use, over the counter products!)
- Sit down with the rest of your family and discuss if you’ll need to change some of your dog’s routines/access to certain parts of the house when bub arrives. (If Fluffy isn’t going to be able to sleep on your bed once bub arrives, now is the time to put that into place – not once bub is home!)
Once bub arrives:
- NEVER force your dog to meet your new baby. If your dog doesn’t want to say hello at first that’s totally fine. It is far better to take the introduction slowly, and at your dog’s pace. Rushing may stress or frighten your dog, which will only make the transition more difficult for you and your dog.
- When your dog and baby do meet, try to remain as calm as possible. If your dog feels that you think it’s a big deal, they will too! For safety, always place a lead on your dog.
- Always, always, always supervise your dog and baby. If either of them are uncomfortable, or too excited, calmly separate them for safety.
- If your dog displays aggressive behavior towards your baby, calmly separate them immediately, but do not punish the dog. Punishing your dog will only make them more uncomfortable around the baby, and therefore more likely to display aggressive behaviour again. SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP! The safety of your baby AND your dog is paramount.
- Try your best to maintain your dog’s pre-baby regular routines/daily activities
If you feel concerned that your dog may not be comfortable with your new baby, or if at any stage after bringing bub home your dog is not coping, it is ALWAYS recommended to seek professional help ASAP. The longer your dog feels uncomfortable for, the longer it takes to resolve the issue.
Bringing a new baby home is a massive change for everyone in the household, including your dog. Don’t forget to make sure they are ready too.
Call us on 3208 9233 if you are concerned about your dog (we can't help much with the two legged varieties!).