PHUKET: Having a baby is (apparently) a wonderful moment in one’s life. However, I’ve also heard that it can be quite stressful, emotional and very tiring. But, for those of you who also have dogs in the house, you need to think about them too. You are right to be concerned about your dog sniffing around the new addition. Just think of all those bugs, infections and nasty bacteria that a dog can catch from an un-vaccinated toddler.
Bringing your new baby home must be quite exciting. If I had to wait 9 months for my XBOX 360 to be delivered, I’d be super excited come the big day myself. Of course, having a new addition to your household, and an uneducated, totally dependent one at that, brings with it a myriad of changes to your normal routine and therefore to your dog’s routine.
Amidst all the excitement of bringing home your new baby, your dog may end up sharing most of the anxiety and less of the fun. There’s quite a bit that can be done with your dog to make the new transition easier, and with nine months to go, you’ve got time on your side.
The calm before the storm
It’s no surprise that your dog needs to adjust to the idea of having a baby around the house because frankly, so do you. A baby will bring about changes in your routine, unfamiliar noises, less recreational time and increased stress. The first thing to think about is what kind of exposure your dog has already had to children and animals?
How did he react? What kind of experience was it? It’s worth consulting a canine behaviorist to assess your dog too. Don’t mistake dog "breed" for safety. Sure, some dogs are advertised as "great with kids and babies" but all dogs are different, and if there’s any chance he could react badly to a new baby you need to know before it happens.
Start preparing your dog by getting him used to you holding something in your arms whilst going about normal routines. Dolls that makes realistic baby sounds are easily available at shops. You can also take him to the area where your new born will sleep or play and reward him for being calm.
If you have already bought your push-chair, take it on walks with you as if it’s totally normal and allow your dog to get used to it. Exposing your dog to lots of children and babies of all ages in a safe and positive manner will also help him to learn that he can be calm and controlled amidst the commotion. Again, a behaviorist can help you further.
New baby boot camp
Having your dog enrolled in obedience training prior to the baby’s arrival should be given serious consideration as you will all benefit tremendously. You’ll truly appreciate the added benefits of having a dog that will sit, lie down, go to place, leave it, or settle down, all on command.
However, without the benefit of training, you need to be aware of your dogs limitations and be guarded not to "shut him out" just because he won’t sit for you. You can still have a calm, baby-loving dog, but you need to manage it.
The beagle has landed
Our first instinct when the baby finally arrives home is to forget everything else and focus on them. But it’s really important not to forget about your dog, or to act differently with them. Maintain your status quo
, continue with your normal feeding and walking routines, and incorporate them into your new ones. By being involved with you and the newbie, you’re preventing a build up of any frustration or anxiety in your dog.
Your dog will no doubt be curious of the new sounds and smells associated with your baby, but will not understand how delicate he/she is. Supervise all interactions between the baby and dog. Your dog might be awesome with him/her, but that doesn’t mean he won’t snap if awoken suddenly by a baby yanking on his whiskers.
The humane treatment of all animals is an important lesson for children of any age, as is the awareness and respect of a healthy set of canine teeth.
Having a pet in the house is by far the best way for your child to learn about how to properly handle a dog, or other animal. Having them involved in walking, bathing, feeding or even training your dog will have immense benefits to them personally, as well as the added benefits to your dog.
If you’d like more information on introducing babies and dogs, obedience training, or simply have some canine questions, feel free to drop us a line on 089 588 4050 or [email protected] For more information contact the Thailand Canine Academy on 089 588 4050 or email [email protected].