Dear Didi: My husband and I just found out that we are pregnant. It will be our first child. How do we prepare our dog for the upcoming changes? -Expecting in Ripon
Dear Expecting: Congratulations! Your entire family must be so excited…and nervous. Those emotions are easily detected your four legged kid. Dogs can also tell that something is up with mom because they can smell changes in hormones and, eventually, be able to hear an extra heartbeat. They immediately notice that the humans are behaving differently. Perhaps more people are visiting and you are more distracted in general.
If your dog has not gone to obedience classes now is the time to schedule one. A good personal trainer will help you instill verbal controls, household boundaries and give your some foresight
into common issues once the baby comes home. As you get further along in your pregnancy you will not want the dog jumping on you, not coming when called, amongst other bad habits. If your dog has not had very many experiences with children you should go for walks near playgrounds.
See how the dog is around kids from a distance. If barking and growling break out enlist your trainer immediately. Kids move unexpectedly. They are fast, unpredictable, shriek and get in dogs faces. The more your dog can just watch and get used to younger humans, the better.
If he does well, you can try sitting on a bench closer to the action. As things continue to improve, perhaps walk with some friends’ kids.
Set up your nursery sooner rather than later. Let your dog explore and sniff all the new things coming in. They bring new and different smells, like baby powder. Dad and dog can bond over
assembly of changing tables and cribs. It may sound crazy, but purchase a life-size baby doll and begin practicing being a mom. Change diapers, coo at the child, rock the baby, and put the newborn in the crib. These actions will fill the dog with curiosity. Let the dog sniff and watch and get used to new routines. Purchase your stroller and take the dog and the baby doll for walks.
This will allow your dog to get used to walking with a wheeled object.
Plan ahead for who will pet sit while you are in the hospital. Have a back up person. Setting up a relationship with an excellent doggy daycare center can save you later on. The dog will get to play with others and enjoy his stays and mom/dad will get much needed breaks when the baby has a cold or you are sleep deprived. A good in-home sitter is invaluable for sudden emergencies.
Make sure they are bonded and have references.
When the baby is born have your husband take a dirty diaper, first bodysuit or blanket home for the dog to cuddle with. The smells of the newborn introduce themselves to your dog so that nothing is a huge surprise when you first walk into the house with your new pride & joy. Don’t forget about your fuzzy friend. Newborns often take all of their parent’s attention when the dog
was used to having it. Be sure and give him or her some love. He will probably act out somewhat but with your new skills from obedience class you will know how to distract him to better
choices instead of just saying, “no, no, no!”, all of the time. -submit questions at www.CaliforniaCanineUnleashed.com