Get Your Dog Ready to Meet Your Newborn

When you get your dog ready to meet your newborn, it is all about preparation. Rather than starting on the day you bring home the new baby, start months before that teaching your dog basic obedience skills. Ensuring your dog has a solid stay, come, and other cues is extremely important to set your dog up for success. They are going to be curious and the last thing you need is them jumping all over you and the baby. Below are some tips on what you can practice at home to get your dog ready to meet your newborn. Remember that you are setting your dog up for success if you help them understand how to behave beforehand in any situation.

Fake Baby

            Before you have a real baby, get your dog prepared for this with a fake one. Use a baby doll or a stuffed animal, wrap it in a blanket like your baby will be. You can use your phone lying on top playing crying noises to mimic the real baby. Walk around with the “baby” and see what your dog does. Dogs may try to be overly helpful by getting under foot or putting their head and paws in your lap – you are going to teach them calmly that this is not what you want. Give them a correction “eh eh” or “no” and when they move or stop tell them good in a natural tone and continue with the distraction.

            Carry your fake baby throughout your day as you would with a real one, doing different chores and tasks. This will help your dog lose interest in the baby as it becomes normal and part of the routine. The goal should be for your dog not to be overly curious about the baby and learn to not get in the baby’s face, you want your dog to feel naturally about the baby. There are many sweet videos online of dogs cuddling with or sniffing a baby’s face, but that can be dangerous as not every dog understands they need to be gentle and some dogs are just not aware of how powerful they can be when pawning or sniffing – it’s better to teach your dog boundaries with the baby rather than encourage contact.

Mimic Scenarios

            Sitting on the floor with the baby. Practice this with your fake baby. Lay out a large blanket, big enough for you to sit down on and “change a diaper”. Both you and the baby should be completely on the blanket. You are going to teach this as a Threshold Skill. Teach your dog to stay off the blanket, no paws or nose should pass the threshold. Use lots of treats and reward your dog when they are in the correct position or any calm behavior. If your dog crosses the threshold, ask them to back up or teach off when he gets off. As your dog gets better add in more distractions like the crying noise, some movement of the “baby” or some baby toys.

            Get your dog familiar with items you will be using frequently when the baby comes beforehand. This is quite simple, we just want our dog to get their curiosity out by sniffing and watching items move or make noises so they become normal to your dog. Practice putting the fake baby in items like bouncers and baby seats so your dog can learn boundaries with certain items before the baby is here (like the car seat or floor bouncers).

Commands to Utilize

            While you practice with your fake baby and when you have the real one it’s important to teach your dog some commands. This helps you know what to do with your dog when they are curious about the baby, and so your dog can get good at these commands and utilize them when the baby is here.

  • Place – Your dog sits or lays onto a dog bed and does not come off of it until given a “break” cue
  • Stay – Your dog maintains their position (down or sit) wherever you placed them and does not move away until given a “break” cue
  • Boundaries – Your dog does not pass or interact with a visual boundary such as going onto the baby’s play mat or no contact with the infant car seat
  • Off – Your dog will get off of furniture or other objects when cued, this can also mean they will stop jumping when this cue is given
  • Sit and Down – Your dog will sit or down when cued

Many of these skills are already part of the Good Buddy Dog Training, Dog Training Fundamentals Program and we can modify the program to fit your needs, even when you need to get your dog ready to meet your newborn. Schedule your in-home evaluation on our website, so we can talk about your specific needs.

Get Your Dog Ready to Meet Your Newborn

Bringing Your Baby Home

            For the last few months you’ve been prepping and training your dog on what to do and how they should act around the new baby, now it’s time to bring the baby home. Some people start with bringing in a blanket from the hospital that smells like the baby and letting their dogs smell that, you can choose to do that – however I feel it creates a lot of excitement and curiosity towards the smell and you may be teaching your dog that it’s okay for them to get jumpy and curious. We are going for your dog feeling neutral about the baby more than anything.

            When you first get home your dog has most likely not seen you for a while, possibly a day or few days. This means more than the curiosity of the new baby, your dog is going to be so excited to see you. Put your baby up (in their room or somewhere safe) for the first few minutes so you can be great and love your dog. This helps get rid of a lot of initial excitement and wiggles they may have stored up.

            When your dog is calmed down, put them on a leash and put them in the Place Command (you’ll need two adults to help with this next part). One person holds the leash and maintains the place while you and the baby sit a few (5-10) feet away holding the baby. The person holding onto the dog’s leash should be treating for any calm behavior and for maintaining the place. This is to get your dog used to the situation without the baby being forced into your dog’s face. Once your dog is calmer, go ahead and move the place command closer to the baby. The person holding the leash should continue to treat for calm and if the dog gets too pushy, call the dog out of place and treat. Let your dog get used to the baby in this way over time, letting him sniff through barriers like cribs or bassinets (helps insure they won’t be licking them). It may be helpful to keep your dog on leash for the first few days if they are overly excited. It’s always easier to start with a big boundary that you can loosen up than to try to go from a small boundary to a bigger one if your dog is unsuccessful.

Kuranda Dog Beds
Kuranda Dog Beds

            My last piece of advice is to make sure to prepare your dog for the time you are away in the hospital. If you are using a kennel or sending them to a trusted friend’s house, do this for a couple days before the baby comes just so you can make sure they are going to an environment they’ve been to before and are more familiar with. If someone will be staying with your dog, have this person come a couple times prior to leaving so both you and your dog are familiar with this person. If able, you can have different items ready for your dog sitter to use: Kongs filled with treats and frozen, your dog’s favorite toys laid out, mental stimulating games ready to go as well. Having these things ready will make sure your dog sitter doesn’t need to scramble to come up with ideas to entertain your dog if they get stressed about your absence.

            Ensure that their grooming needs are all fresh and taken care of beforehand, giving your dog a bath and trimming their nails is the last thing on your mind when you come home from the hospital with a newborn. And make sure you have plenty of dog food and treats stocked up so you won’t run out right away.

            If you have questions or concerns about how to get your dog ready to meet your new born, your dog’s behavior, or training for this new adventure, reach out to a professional dog trainer to get some personalized guidance through what steps to take with your dog!

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Dog Training in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Corrales, Placitas

The mission of Good Buddy Dog Training is to help build the bond between dogs and their owners through positive training methods. We teach dogs to accomplish new behaviors and humans to bring out the best in their furry friends. For the most effective training, we work with people directly in their homes, where dogs and their humans feel most comfortable. And the training we do is based on the science of how dogs learn by using a positive and fun curriculum to build confidence in both dog and owner.

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