Introducing Your Baby To A Home With An Existing Dog
For a lot of people, a new puppy or dog is typically the first step taken when it comes to growing their family. If having a child of your own is on the cards and your home already has an existing dog, there is a few important steps to take to ensure harmony in the household and keep your dog as an integral part of the family, as it was before children.
Too often we encounter dogs who have been re-homed due to various reasons as the family grows. This can be due to undesirable, boisterous behaviour or simply not having enough time. It is important to know that a dog can be a 15-year commitment and we expect that in this time your circumstances will change so it’s important to shape a well-mannered dog that can happily co-exist even as lifestyles develop and change.
If you have a dog at home and are expecting or planning on having a human baby of your own, there are many things you can do to ensure a smooth transition and a happy household of kids and dogs alike.
Here are our top tips for preparing your dog for the “new normal”;
1. Stop unwanted jumping
Jumping up is something we at Found by the Hound discourage but if it is something that has become a learned behaviour, it is important to begin training your dog to stop this. Your baby will be carried around and spark much curiosity in your dog, you will not want your dog jumping unexpectedly
2. Reduce the access your dog has to you
For your dog’s life up until a certain point, your attention and affection may have been solely placed on him/her. Your dog may be allowed to follow you from room to room and sit with you on the sofa. It is important that your dog has its own independence and enjoys time alone. A new baby will be demanding on your time so having a dog that can cope with possible separation and can be confident on his own is integral to keeping all members of the family, including your dog, happy. Begin by lengthening the time they spend alone outside and reduce access to yourself in the lead up.
3. Loose Lead Walking
You may be able to handle and manage a dog that tends to pull and become excitable when on walks. This will become quite difficult to control with a pram in tow. Begin vigilant training when on walks and even implement a pram into your training early in the pregnancy to get your dog used to this new contraption. If your dog pulls, training will be essential and especially important for your safety being pregnant as well as when you're strolling around precious cargo when baby arrives.
Exercising your dog is an essential part of their health and wellness. Walking your dog with alongside a pram is very achievable. Ensure they still get the exercise they need and put in the work before your baby arrives so you can all enjoy a family walk together.
4. Mental and physical barriers
At Found by the Hound, we believe that a dog should not have free access to every area of the house. Often our dogs that live both indoors and out do tend to explore if not supervised. If you can, we encourage mental barrier training in which the dog is taught to not enter certain areas (i.e. no access to carpeted areas, nursery or playrooms). If this proves difficult, a baby gate can also work to eliminate access.
At Found by the Hound, we run a K9 Primary School course which focuses on promoting calm, good mannered dogs. During this course we cover mat training, mental boundaries, general obedience and help you rectify things like unwanted jumping and pulling on lead. This would be a great option for those planning on starting a family.
If you have difficulty walking your dog, or if your dog displays reactive behavior, we also conduct one on one On-Leash Aggression lessons which will give you the tools to get back to enjoying leisurely walks with your dog.
Here are our top tips for introducing your dog to a new baby;
1; Always, ALWAYS use a Leash
Even if your dog is generally calm and well-mannered, when you introduce your dog to ANYTHING new, this should be done with a leash. Introducing a baby is no exception. Ensure you have full control over your dog by using a leash. You can easily give your dog feedback with a leash if it becomes excited, goes too close or begins to bark.
2. Make sure your dog is calm
It’s important that your pet’s first introduction to the baby is positive and non-threatening. It can be wise to have two adults present in this scenario to better control and maintain a positive first introduction. Only when the dog is calm and relaxed, should be introduced. Allow your pet to investigate (whilst on leash) the new baby and reward him/her for good behaviour so they develop a positive association with the baby.
3. Creating a positive environment
The goal is to teach your pet that ‘good things' happen in the presence of your child. Reward your pet for obedient, relaxed behaviour in the presence of the child so they develop a positive association with the baby.
4. Spending time with your pet
As much as possible try to maintain your pet's routine. Your pet still needs quality time with you even if it's only five minutes of sitting alone together, talking quietly or grooming. Continuing quality time will ensure your pet remains a valued and integral member of the family.
5. Hospital smells
When your baby is due to make their grand entrance, it is wise to first bring an item of clothing or something similar home so the dog has an opportunity to familiarise itself with the scent of whats to come.
Would you like to arrange some pre-bub training? Found by the Hound can schedule Private Behavioural Consultations or Lessons to address your concerns.