Welcome Baby New Year! With the arrival of the bright and shiny 2017, I am so blessed to be looking forward to a year of firsts with the arrival of my first grandson this past December! With four Siberian Huskies, who are very social by nature, we wanted to prepare them for the arrival of the baby so they would not be too excited, overstressed, or worry when the baby cries and coos.
A few things that have helped us with the transition from a four-dog household to a four-dog-and-a-baby household are:
Prepare Your Dog Ahead of Time
Months ahead of time, play different sound bites of babies crying and cooing to let your dog get used to the new voice they will be hearing on a daily basis. When you play the cries, reassure your dog by saying, “It’s okay, Wolfie. This is Baby (Name).” Then remember to add positive verbal reward to your dog, such as “Good boy, Wolfie!” along with hugs and pets for a job well done.
Set the Routine
It’s important that the routine with your dogs stay the same, or work with them early if there will be a change. If your dogs will not be permitted in a certain area, like the nursery, then begin the training early. Put up a gate or work with your dogs to “stay” at the room entrance so by the time the baby comes home, your dogs will already be trained and it will not be something “new” that could be viewed by the dogs as a negative association with the baby.
Introduce Your Dog to Babies Beforehand
A good way to help prepare your dog for the arrival of a new baby is by having friends who have young children and babies come to visit. While under constant care and supervision of both the child’s parent and you, the dog’s parent, allow your dog to become familiar with the new smells, sights, and sounds of a baby.
A Healthy Dog Is a Happy Dog
Be sure to have your dog’s vaccinations and vet health check-ups all up to date prior to the baby coming home to be sure your dog is in good health. And don’t forget to have those nails trimmed!
A Well-Behaved Dog Is a Well-Behaved Dog
If there are any less than positive traits your dog may have that you just can’t seem to correct, such as jumping, consider enrolling him/her in a training class or meet with a dog behaviorist to work out any issues way before baby is due.
Take a Sniff
Once the baby is born, before bringing him/her home, have a family member or friend bring home an article of clothing, hat, or blanket that has been on the baby for your dog to sniff and become familiar with the baby’s scent.
Meet and Greet Time!
It’s time for your baby to come! If you have multiple dogs, like we do, allow each one to have a few minutes on their own to meet and sniff the baby under careful supervision. When first meeting the new baby, maybe start out with your dog behind a gate, then progress to removing the gate.
Do this meet-and-greet a little each day to get your dogs used to the newest member of the family. Always remember to talk to your dogs through the process and reward your dog with positive reinforcement of praise, hugs, and treats!
With some early planning and under careful supervision, dog meets baby can become a positive experience for all. The key is to start early, always be safety conscious, never leave a baby with a dog unattended, and take your time. Eventually, you’ll notice everyone settling in to the new routine quite nicely, especially your pups!
Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the international FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in American Pet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of “The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show.” Named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine, Dorothy is a 5-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2016 for her writing. An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. In addition to her Siberian Huskies, Dorothy shares her home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and new grandson. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Google + , Twitter, and Instagram (@FiveSibesMom).