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Friday, May. 10th 2013

Baby on the way??? What do you do Next???

Does your dog listen to your voice commands? If you haven’t taught your dog this, now is the time. Obedience training is critical to having your dog stay well-behaved around your new baby. At a minimum he needs to know “sit”, “stay”, “off” (or “down”), touch, lie down and “leave it” – these are all going to come in handy as you juggle both the baby and the dog. If you will be walking your dog as your push your baby’s stroller, we also suggest you learn Loose Leash walking and walking at heel. This is going to be useful.
Does your dog play bite or get mouthy? If so, make it stop. Your dog must learn to be careful with his mouth!
This might sound mean, but it’s necessary: start reducing the amount of attention you give your dog every day. This does not mean to ignore him or stop loving him, but you are going to be very busy with your new little one, and the dog is not going to be able to get as much attention as he is used to. So by starting ahead of time you can get it better prepared.
Start introducing your dog to other babies. Do this safely, and pull out all the stops when it comes to rewarding good dog behavior around babies, infants, and toddlers. Give him his favorite treats and love. Let your dog know that these little human beings, while looking different, are not something to fear.
Have you ever watched a child interact with a new object? They Chew Lick, Smack, Mouth, Poke, Prod and even fall on it.  One day your little one is going to do that to your dog. Start getting your dog used to having it poked, prodded, nudged, and “messed with. This is what we call cradle and message; get the dog used to being touched in all those areas dogs commonly don’t like being touched…
Some dogs can get snarky around the food bowl. This is where resource controls (hand feeding the food and moving to bowl feeding) comes in… We can even get into the habit of surprising the dog with treats being dropped in the bowl as he is eating which will make him happy to have folks around while he is eating! Get Fido used to being around him while eating in all forms now is the time to teach not when the baby comes home…
Get the dog used to being in the nursery and get him a blanket or bed that is located in that room. Now teach the dog a park it command! That way they are used to the room and used to being in their space and good with the command stay!
Smells are important to dogs. They are how dogs identify other animals and people. So before your baby comes home, bring home a blanket from the hospital that has the baby’s scent all over it. Get him used to it and only reward calm behavior…
Keep the dog’s routine as normal as possible. Remember dogs with rules and routines will think of how to make the owner happy vs. thinking like a dog!
Do not mix dog toys and baby toys, or let the dog play with the baby’s things.  Again this starts now not when you bring the baby home…
Go get a cabbage patch doll or other doll that is the correct size and look of a real baby! Start carrying it around. Your dog will notice the difference immediately, you will walk different, stand different, and move different when carrying a baby. You will also have way less use of your hands (remember you are now holding a baby) the use of a doll will give the dog a chance to get used to these changes.
Next start putting the doll on the ground on a blanket and teach the dog to be calm and used to having the doll on the ground… Use the baby carrier, Johnny jumper, slings and all other contraptions that will hold the baby with the doll now don’t wait till the baby comes home! If you see behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable we want to know now not when the baby comes home. Now is the time to call trainers, practice and make sure everything is good!
Smells are critical also make sure to use baby lotion, baby oil, diaper cream and powders now around the dog! Pair all of these smell with feeding time or treats so that the dog becomes accustomed them now not when the baby comes home…
Lastly sounds get a cd of baby noises and start the desensitization process now! Once again pair with food or treats and spend time each day getting the dog used to these sounds. I have even been known to wrap a doll in a receiving blanket with a portable cd player in the blanket so I am carrying a crying baby… Remember you are only going to get one chance to prep for the little ones arrival take it seriously and work now not later…
Lastly if you see anything that makes you uncomfortable please call a trainer now don’t wait till the baby comes home. I have seen this go horribly wrong for baby and dog… Just get help if you need it!
Below are links to two places where you can get these cd’s
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