A question I get asked over and over again by clients and friends is – ” How should I introduce my dog to my new baby? ” I am no dog expert, but just so happen to be friends with one of the best dog trainers in the world !! TamarGeller, who Oprah calls ” the life coach for dogs and their people “, has been so kind to take the time out her her busy schedule to answer a few questions about this .
Are there things I can do when pregnant to better Prepare my dog for the new baby ?Yes! Planning in advance will make you feel less stressed about all the changes, at least when it comes to your dog. It’s a good idea to think about all the changes that will take place in your life: the baby sleeping in your room, you being tired and sleep deprived, having much less time.If your dog is sharing your bed or bedroom with you and you think you would want it to change once your baby arrives, make the change as soon as possible, as far away as possible from the baby’s arrival. You don’t want the dog to think “gosh, since that creature arrived, my quality of life detiorated. I hate this creature”. That also means that if you will be too tired to take your dog on a walk or to his daily doggie park romp, sign him up ASAP to a doggie daycare or hire someone who would continue his routine. Make the change before the baby’s arrival.Also, since you will have guests coming over, work with your dog on his manners – how to greet them and how to interact with them. Remind him or coach him what Sit is, and what Leave It is. Also work on hand signals if you think there will be times when you would not want to talk, like when the baby finally fell asleep.What is the best way to first introduce my dog to our new new baby ?Forget about the nonsense of bringing a doll home. A doll is just like any other toy and it doesn’t have a meaning. But, Your partner can bring home from the hospital a blanket with the baby’s smell on it, let the dog smell it and feed him very special “Gold level” treats while saying your baby’s name. The idea is to associate your baby with immense amounts of PLEASURE in your dog’s mind. Every time he sees, smell, or hear your baby, you want him to think happy thoughts.One mistake you want to avoid is correcting your dog if he’s growling. It will only make matters worse! You want to address the reason the dog is growling (99% of the time is due to fear or discomfort) and not stop the alarm sound that your dog is giving you. How to do it? the next Q&A will address it.Are there things I can do to make the transition easier by not having my dog get sad or jealous ?Make it fun!!!! No one like changes that reduce their quality if their life. But they would love it if it will mean a really pleasurable experience. You want to make a list of all the different activities, perks, and toys that your dog loves, like being on the bed with you, going for a walk, getting his meal, getting a treat, invited on the couch, etc. From the moment you bring the baby’s blanket or the baby home, he could get any of these things ONLY when the baby is around. You want your dog to look forward to your baby’s presence. Don’t wait to put your baby to sleep so you could take your dog on a walk, because the message that the dog is getting is “life is better when the creature is gone”. You want to put the leash on him while the baby is there and have someone else take him for a walk, or someone else put the baby down for a nap.Also, start “BABY PROOFING” your dog – pull lightly on his ear, and give him a treat. Also give it a name like “courage”. Pull on his other ear, his tail. Pretend like you are falling on him and grab onto her fur to stand up. Basically, doing all the things your baby will do once s/he is starting to be more mobile. You want your dog to be use to it by then and not be alarmed by the first time your baby will pull on her nose/snout. You want to have that special word that you could say from the other side of the room that will relax your doggie letting her know that it’s only “courage” and that “courage” always getting her a treat.