The Star-Herald

Preparing Your Dog for a New Baby

Here is a super “cool” treat for your dog.  First, take 3 ripe bananas, 32 ounces of plain yogurt and 1 cup peanut butter.  Blend together; pour the mixture into ice cube trays and then freeze. In a few hours you will have a tall waggin’, yummy treat for your favorite pup.

When you bring a new baby home, your dog will face an overwhelming number of different sights, sounds and smells. They may find some of them upsetting, especially if they didn’t have opportunities to spend time with children as a puppy. Your daily routine will drastically change, so your dog’s schedule will change, too. And, out of necessity, your pet will get less of your time and attention. It may be a difficult time for them, especially if they have been the “only child” for a while.

To make things go as smoothly as possible, the ASPCA suggests it’s important to take some time to prepare your dog for the arrival of your new addition.  Teaching your dog some basic obedience skills will help you manage their behavior when the baby comes. 

One to two months before the baby arrives: Anticipate the changes you’ll make to your dog’s daily routine, and start making those changes.

Having good verbal control of your dog can really help when it comes to juggling their needs and the baby’s care.

Basic manners and skills are particularly important:

Sit, Down, Stay, Wait at doors and Settle: These skills can help your dog learn to control their impulses, and they’ll prove useful in many situations. For example, you can teach your dog to lie down and stay whenever you sit in your nursing chair.

Leave it and drop it: These two behaviors can help you teach your dog to leave the baby’s things alone.

Greet people politely: A jumping dog can be annoying at best — and dangerous at worst — when you’re holding the baby.

Relax in a crate: If you crate train your dog, you’ll know that she’s safe when you can’t supervise her, and she’ll have a cozy place of her own to relax when things get hectic.

First impressions are important. Your dog should have pleasant experiences with your baby right from the start. When you allow your dog to investigate the baby, orchestrate the event carefully. Choose a quiet room, and sit down with the baby in your arms. Have a friend or family member leash your dog and bring them into the room. Again, avoid nervous or agitated behavior. Talk to your dog in a calm, happy voice as you invite them to approach. Convince your dog that meeting and interacting with her new friend is fun, not stressful.

If your dog’s body language is relaxed and friendly, have your friend walk her toward you and the baby, keeping the leash short but loose. If she wants to, let your dog sniff the baby as you continue to speak softly to her. Praise her warmly for gentle investigation.

Even if your dog seems curious and calm, you may feel a little nervous about letting her get close to the infant. That’s normal for new parents and perfectly reasonable. Initially, you might feel most comfortable allowing only brief interactions. Let your dog sniff the baby’s feet for a couple of seconds. Then praise her and ask her to sit or lie down. Reward her for complying with a few small, tasty treats.  If you like, repeat this sequence a few times. Then have your helper distract your dog with a new chew bone or a food puzzle toy.

Teach your child to respect your dog. As your child develops, teach them to respect your dog’s body, safe zones and belongings. Always supervise interactions so that you can guide your child as he learns to communicate and play with your dog appropriately. Playing an active role in the development of a relationship between your child and your dog will benefit everyone.

Please stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society if you are looking for a new furry family member.  Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing for lunch 12-12:30.  Spaying and neutering saves lives. Please be responsible pet owners.

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face” (Ben Williams).

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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