If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen our two pups pop up regularly in my stories and pictures. I have had quite a few messages and comments over the past few months about the dogs and how they get on with Freddie. Also, what we did to prepare them for Freddie’s arrival and how they have adjusted to Freddie being mobile (and chasing them around…).
I have compiled the top tips I think you need to know for helping your dog adapt to your new baby. Most of these will apply if you buy/adopt a dog post-baby as well.
(Please be aware that I am not a dog trainer and every dog is different. With a rescue dog/puppy it is best to seek advice from the rescue or your vet. You know your dog best so please adapt the tips below to suit your pet!).
TAKE THINGS AWAY FROM YOUR DOG
We started doing this when Barney and Dougal were puppies but I stepped it up during my pregnancy.
You need to make sure that you can take anything from your dog’s mouth without them reacting with aggression. This is far easier to do when they are young! I would give them a toy and then take it away. Next I would praise them for waiting and then return the toy. The same with treats too- give them a treat, take it out of their mouth (yes, a bit disgusting!) and then give it back with lots of praise. With their food bowls, occasionally I would pick up the bowl or move it away and then praise them upon giving it back.
It sounds cruel but when your baby arrives and becomes mobile, they won’t understand at first not to take things from your dog. If your baby takes a dog treat/toy that your dog is holding and your dog is not used to having things removed from their mouth, they may (understandably) become upset or frightened which could translate into aggression.
Doing this consistently has worked amazingly for our pups. Freddie can take treats or toys from them and they just wait patiently for him (or I!) to return them. Last week (when I turned my back), Freddie put his hand in their food and they just sat there waiting. Obviously, I would never leave them unintended but I do feel more comfortable having done the above.
CREATE A PLACE TO ESCAPE
The arrival of a little person is likely to unsettle your dog. Dougal (our younger dog) was completely unbothered by Freddie’s arrival. However Barney instantly took on the role of protector and became quite upset when, during the newborn days, Freddie cried a lot. Now that Freddie is crawling and cruising, the dogs have found it much harder to find quiet spaces away from him. Sometimes, they simply don’t want to play and as Freddie is still so young, he can’t always understand this.
I solve this by making sure the dogs always have an escape. I leave our bedroom door open so that they can chill out up there and they have beds in other areas of the house as well.
TEACH YOUR BABY FROM A YOUNG AGE
When Freddie started to roll around and become more aware of the dogs (read: pull their fur…), I picked a word to teach him to be careful. We use ‘gentle’. Whenever Freddie would touch the dogs I would say ‘gentle’ and show him how to stroke them. For months and months, this had no effect at all and he continued to grab their fur- which is why having an escape is so important! However, during the last few weeks, it all clicked and I turned around one day to see Freddie stroking Dougal really gently. If he ever gets a bit rough I say the word and he goes back to stroking them nicely.
I was really surprised that he picked up on this so quickly and so I would recommend starting this when your baby is young. It may take them a while to catch on but it will be worth it when they do!
A FEW MORE TIPS
If you are feeding your baby, make sure that your baby is always at a much higher height than your dog/s. It will help to show them your baby is above them in the pack.
Don’t forget your pups need lots of love too! It can be a difficult adjustment so try to pay them lots of attention as well as your new arrival.
Keep to their same routines are much as you can. This will help your pup to feel secure.
I really hope this post was useful. Sometimes having dogs and a baby is hard but now that Freddie is older, watching them interact is so sweet and I know having a pet will teach Freddie a lot.
Thank you so much for reading and see you on Wednesday,
P I N M E