Some Thoughts on Bringing Home a New Baby

When first time parents learn that they're expecting a baby all seems perfect in their world. If they also own a dog(s), now is the perfect time to sit-down and formulate a plan to guarantee harmony in the household when the baby arrives home.

STEP 1:  Assess the dog's temperament. If you don't know how to do this, engage a professional trainer to provide this advice. You need to understand how your dog will react to a new pack member suddenly arriving in his territory.

STEP 2: Obedience train your dog !! You've got 6 or 7 months to get the job well & truly sorted. Use a professional trainer or a dog training club.

            Specifically:     to walk calmly on a lead

                                    to walk calmly on a lead beside an empty pram or pusher

                                    to obey the 'stay' command without any exceptions

                                    to obey the 'come' command without any exceptions

                                    to obey the 'leave it' command without any exceptions

                                    to obey the 'sit' and 'drop' commands without exceptions

STEP 3: If the dog lives inside your home, I would 'crate train' the dog. For everyone's peace of mind, the dog can be in the house but can't have access to the baby. When the dog is moving around the house, the dog wears a collar and lead AT ALL TIMES.

ONCE THE BABY IS BORN................

1. Bring home a baby blanket with the baby's odour on it. Place a doll in the blanket, wrap it up and place it on the lounge-room floor. Bring the dog into the room ON A LEAD. Practice your "sit", "down", "stay" and particularly the "leave it" commands. The dog can't be allowed to sniff or interact with the doll.

2. When the new mother first arrives home, I suggest that she calmly greet the dog and makes genuine contact. Don't have the baby in your arms. Show the dog that you acknowledge his presence and give the dog a chance to smell the odour of the baby on your clothing. The dog has time to make the connection between the odour on the baby blanket and you, without the distraction of the actual baby in your arms.

3.Avoid jealousy or attention seeking behaviours from the dog. Get new, exciting toys for the dog and use them as a distraction. When the baby cries and needs attention, one parents attends to the baby, one parent interacts with the dog in another room.

4. Never allow the dog in the baby's room. Not even under supervision.

5. REMEMBER, IF THE DOG HASN'T HAD CONTACT WITH BABIES OR VERY YOUNG CHILDREN, THERE'S A STRONG CHANCE THE DOG WON'T RECOGNISE THE BABY AS A HUMAN. THE DOG MAY BE QUITE UNSURE AS TO WHAT BEHAVIOURS TO OFFER.

6. Continue your obedience training sessions as your dog will have come to really enjoy the interaction with you and will need the constant reminder of how to behave around you and the baby.

7. Use commonsense and don't leave the dog unsupervised with your baby. It's just not worth the risk.

Mark Murray

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