Children

How to prepare your dog for the arrival of a new baby in the family

If you have a dog or a cat at home, it is normal for you to have some questions about what to do when the little one arrives, especially if he is a rather restless big dog.

You have just learned that a baby is on the way and everyone in the family is thrilled. The excitement of the arrival of a child is such a new sensation that it triggers an endless series of questions: “How do we organize the bedroom? where do we put the cot? where the bathroom? … Wait! It’s the dog? 

If you have a dog (or a cat) at home and you are apprehensive, it is normal that you have some concern about it, especially if it is a rather restless big dog. But even if your four-legged friend were the best in the world and had lived with you for years, I’m sure at least one of these questions bounced around your head: “How should I manage
my dog ​​(or cat)? Will he be jealous? Will he be careful?” And most importantly: “Is there any chance that he could bite (scratch) my child? Will it be hygienic to live with the child and the dog (or cat) in the house?”

As a mom and dog owner, I sincerely hope that none of you ever think that the solution is to get rid of the dog. You won’t believe it but unfortunately the arrival of a child at home is one of the most frequent causes of abandonment of dogs in a shelter 🙁 ).

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How to prepare our dog for the arrival of a baby

“The arrival of a baby in the family can be a destabilizing event for your pet, especially as there will certainly be a decrease in attention towards him, due to the time he will dedicate to the child, which could bring a sort of “ jealousy” towards the newcomer. In general, the more changes your pet goes through after the baby arrives, the more problems it may have. ” ( cit.Elisa Bertoldi )
These are the words of Elisa Bertoldi, friend of animals and founder of miciogatto.it, from which it is easy to understand that the solution to the problem is to try GRADUALLY to prepare the dog for the arrival of a child. 

When to start preparing your dog for the arrival of a new baby

The best time to start doing this is before the baby is born, because immediately afterwards, between the tiredness and the many things to do, there won’t be much time to teach the dog what to do and what not to do.

Things to teach your dog BEFORE the baby is born

  1. Dog and belly

    The dog, since the owner’s pregnancy, realizes that something is changing. He probably feels the physical and hormonal changes taking place in the woman and he too begins to change his behavior towards us.
    What to do then? Talking to him by getting him closer and smelling his baby bump can be a good thing, but teaching him not to jump on him because it could be dangerous. In fact, some dogs seem able to understand.

  2. Home organization

    To get the dog used to the various changes it is also good to start organizing the house gradually without waiting to do it after birth. For example, if we have to make room in a room and move or add furniture (cot, changing table, chest of drawers) it is better to do it during pregnancy, so that the dog will have time to get used to the new arrangement of things and also to a its possible different position of the kennel.

  3. Daily gestures

    Another thing to do before the baby is born is to get the dog used to the daily gestures that we will do when the baby is born.
    We can – even with the help of a doll – mimic breastfeeding, feeding, going for walks (complete with a pram), taking a bath, changing the diaper, putting the baby in the crib. Don’t be ashamed to do it.
    Even if the dog will know that the doll is not a real child (let’s not delude ourselves that we are deceiving the dog and especially his nose), we can have time to get him used to our new behaviors and rhythms and we can grasp his every reaction or sign of discomfort , thus instructing him in time.
    We can teach them not to rest their paws on the edge of the crib, not to pull too much on the leash during pram walks and many other things. After birth we will no longer have time to do this.

  4. New voices and sounds

    The dog will also have to get used to the baby’s screams and cries. To do this before the baby is born, it could be useful to let him hear recordings from time to time (they are easily found on the internet) with the crying of a newborn. It is obvious that it will not be like hearing the screams of a real baby, but it is still an effective way to gradually get him used to hearing new voices and sounds at home.
    Even starting to take the dog to the playground where there are children could be a way to start getting the dog used to the presence of the little ones and their high-pitched tones of voice.

  5. Dog management

    Another thing that dogs have to get used to is the presence of different people who will be able to take care of him. Taking the dog out for a long time, playing with it, cuddling it, cleaning it and brushing it will be things that we may not be able to do as much as before. This is why it’s a good thing to involve the dad or a family member in managing the dog before the baby is born. This will give you the way to know that the dog will be cared for even if you can’t and the dog will get used to being pampered by another member of the family in time.

Things to do AFTER the baby arrives

Even after the baby is born, there are still many things to do and teach the dog. For example it is good:

  1. get the dog used to the baby’s smell

    and we can do it by bringing home from the hospital the baby’s washing clothes or even used diapers. We can bring them closer to the dog so that he can smell the new smell and thus allow him to recognize the child when he arrives home.

  2. do not exclude the dog from the daily routine

    it is extremely important. In fact, the thing that the dog fears the most is being excluded or removed. So let’s have him assist with breastfeeding if he wants to be close to us, let’s also give him prizes if he should be a bit intrusive when we put the little one to sleep, let’s take him out with us when we go for a walk with the pram.
    On the contrary, keeping him away when taking care of the child will make the dog think that child = isolation and that is exactly what we must avoid.

  3. involve the dog in the care of the baby

    it’s a good idea to share it and eliminate any trace of jealousy. On our return home, let’s let him know the child by holding him in his arms, let him look, smell, touch and gradually get him used to carrying out particular tasks that can help us.

  4. do not scold him if he shows his affection by licking the baby

    Even though dog saliva contains germs, a healthy dog ​​does not carry any disease. So let’s not be alarmed and don’t send the dog away if he “kisses” the child because he would be led to think that we don’t want him to show his affection for the baby.

How to prepare our cat for the arrival of a baby

So far I have talked about what to do to get the dog used to the arrival of a baby. But what if we had a cat at home instead? Even if the attentions to be had are indicatively similar to those of the dog, I wanted to ask our cat expert Elisa Bertoldi for an opinion, who replied as follows:

“ In the case of the cat , if its belongings have to be moved, it is better to do it a few weeks before the arrival of the baby, and gradually: the cat has a lot of habits and could experience sudden changes badly.
We must avoid excluding the cat from areas of the house that he could previously frequent, the cat will not understand the reason and could see it as a decrease in its territory. If it is necessary to do so, the important thing is to give the cat alternatives, perhaps adding shelves or vertical paths in the rooms where he can still have access.
The arrival of a newborn at home will be a source of new stimuli for the animal, new smells, new discoveries. It’s importantallow the cat to become familiar with new things in a serene way , being able to smell them, being able to smell the baby too, get an idea of ​​the new arrival and make sure it is not a threat.
We must also try not to change our attitude towards our pet, not to punish him if he behaves in our opinion “wrong”, but to guide him gradually in this novelty at home, without forcing him and without taking away the time and attention we used to give him.”

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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