Bringing Baby Home – Is Your Dog Ready?
Pet Insurance Australia looks at an important and understated issue facing many Australian households; preparing your family dog for the arrival of a newborn baby.
“Sadly, for many household pets, this factor will not be considered until after the baby has come home and the pet is showing signs of stress,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “For a family dog, a new arrival can be a traumatic and stressful occurrence in the home.”
Being prepared is the key. Dr Lewis Kirkham, author of Tell Your Dog You’re Pregnant, understands this issues around this very important topic. “Many problems that owners have with their dog’s behaviour are often tolerated in a household with no children,” he says. “Problem behaviours such as jumping up or barking may be acceptable now, but can be an issue when carrying a baby in the future, or if the barking disturbs the baby.”
TIPS ON PREPARING YOUR DOG
- Be careful when playing recorded baby sounds to your dog because if done incorrectly, it can make some dogs more reactive to the sounds.
- Set realistic boundaries now, if you will be implementing new rules it’s best to do this before the baby arrives home. For example, sleeping on the bed or couch.
- Iron out any behaviour or training problems before the birth of your bub and call in the experts if you need help.
- Get your dog used to the new furniture and baby items including walking with the pram.
- If possible introduce your dog to a baby, safely and at a distance and gauge how they respond. If you are concerned about any of their behaviour seek professional help quickly.
- Have a realistic dog routine that you can stick to when baby is born. Keeping walks and feeding times the same is important.
- Check out http://babyandpet.com.au/ for more tips and advice
Preparing your pet is the best way to ensure success. “While this may be helpful, it is important to remember that every dog is different and while a few dogs may adjust with limited preparation (e.g. only bringing the baby’s blanket home from the hospital), most dogs need a lot more time and preparation to help them to adjust.”
Behaviour problems such as separation anxiety or toileting problems can often get worse when a new baby arrives, especially when loving pet parents become time-poor or routines change. “Being realistic about your pet is important,” Crighton says. “If your dog is suffering from any behavioural problems, it’s vital to iron these out before your new baby arrives.”
“Keeping up your routine is a good way to ensure your dog is kept happy during this transition,” Crighton says. “However, the routine needs to be realistic for new parents.”
There is no doubt the bond between a child and family dog is one of the most precious relationships in the family home. Setting this relationship up for success right from the word go is an important factor.
“Becoming a mum or dad for the first time is one of the best human experiences around,” Crighton says. “With our dogs playing such an important role in our lives, it’s crucial to ensure we prepare them as much as possible for this life changing and magical event.”