When you’re expecting your first baby, there’s a whole lot of changes that are made in your world. Babies make the world shift, and parents work to create a world that will be perfect for their little addition. However, there’s a whole lot going on in your dog’s world as well. When you’re expecting, what should your dog be expecting?
Dogs are pretty intuitive creatures who tend to thrive with a schedule. They know when something is changing in their world. In the event of a new little brother or sister, your dog should expect their world is about to change. Extra socialization, baby prep, new tricks, learning to share, and preparing for the new normal are a few aspects of what your dog should expect when you’re expecting.
Baby and Child Socialization
If your pup hasn’t had a lot of socialization with infants, toddlers, and kids of all sizes, it’s time to socialize them with some babies before you bring your little one home to them. In the same way that your dog should be socialized around other pups in order to promote appropriate behavior and safe feelings, the same is true for dogs and kids. If you have friends or family members with kids, arrange a playdate to let your fur baby meet their baby.
In your play date, be sure you’re in control and understand the signs of fear and aggression in your dog. Be sure the parents of the children your dog meets understands the importance in respecting your pet’s boundaries as well. The meetings and interactions can be gradual, but eventually, your pup should get the hang of being around tiny humans. Sometimes the issues tend to be over-friendliness, pushing their weight onto little ones, or anxiety.
Expecting a new baby involves a lot of baby prep. The cost of having a baby isn’t just about the medical expenses and daycare, it also involves all the purchases necessary for baby prep. Your pup will notice you bringing in all the new furniture, painting a new room, and changing things in the home. When you’re preparing for your baby in these ways, prepare your pup as well. Think about using gates if you don’t want your dog in certain areas like the baby’s room. Introduce them to new items and set boundaries with those items so they know not to chew or mark.
Help your dog feel comfortable with the changes, especially if you have a dog that tends to feel anxious. Preparing your dog for a baby isn’t just about baby socialization, it’s about helping your dog feel OK with the changes in the home as you prepare as well.
New Tricks and Behaviors
There are some things that we allow our dogs to do in one setting that we don’t allow them to do in others. Before you have a baby, you may be okay with your dog jumping up to say hello. When you are pregnant and when you have a newborn, you may want to rethink your stance on those behaviors. While you’re expecting, work on these new tricks and behaviors before the baby comes.
Things like staying off the couch just in case the baby is up there, refraining from jumping up, and not barking at the doorbell will be extremely helpful behaviors to learn with a newborn. If your dog doesn’t know some of these commands already, things like “drop it,” “leave it,” and “heel” are all great tricks to know. Just in case they steal a binkie, get too friendly with baby kisses, or too excited on walks with the stroller, these commands can help.
Sharing Time and Love
Naturally, the attention in your home will shift when you’re expecting and when you have a new baby. Unfortunately, you aren’t able to tell your pup that you’ll need them to be patient while you work through sharing time with them and the baby. Help this transition by being sure to still give your pup lots of loves. Work with your spouse to be sure your dog is still getting attention. You may consider asking a friend or family member to take your pup for the first few days of having the baby home in order to help ease you into juggling everything at once.
Some ways that you can help your dog stay busy while you learn to share time is to have those close to you take them for a hike or a walk or get them some fun chew toys. Your transition will get easier with time and your dog will adapt. The love you have in your family will grow to fit everyone.
The New Normal
Your family members, relationships, and schedules within your life are like moving entities that grow and adapt to new situations. Expecting a child is the first step in putting that ability to adapt into motion. Some people assume incorrectly that a dog isn’t a great fit into a family with small children. Some dogs are surrendered to shelters as a result. However, dogs are great additions for many families. Dogs can be great companions for children, especially children with autism due to the connection and communication a dog can have with us regardless of communication abilities.
Dogs help us feel comforted and loved, and they tend to help us remain active. With exercise being so important to our health, it’s helpful to have a dog that needs a walk in order to promote movement. It also helps your dog to expend that energy. Especially if you spend a large portion of your day sitting, your dog can help to promote more exercise to keep you healthier. It might not be a run around the neighborhood anymore, but your new normal might be a walk attached to a stroller.
Expecting a child is such an exciting part of life. When the baby you are expecting is your first, it’s a rollercoaster of an experience for everyone involved. For your dog, the experience is just as new as it is for everyone else. And, unlike everyone else, you aren’t able to verbalize what those changes mean. Instead, you can work to help your dog adjust while you’re expecting. Introduce your pup to some kiddos and get them involved in baby prep. Help them adjust behaviors now, and prepare to help them learn to share your attention. Soon, you and your dog will adjust to your new normal with a sweet baby brother or sister.
Chelsy Ranard Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She is passionate about animal rights, bad television, and white wine. She is a volunteer at Simply Cats in Boise.