Welcoming a new baby into the home? Congratulations! While this is a very exciting time, lets also remember that it can be a little confusing and stressful for Fido. Here are a few useful tips for baby prep and the first meet and greet.
Some pre-baby tips:
If your dog isn't crate trained or used to a baby gate, I would advise starting now! Try separating your dog on the other side of the gate for 5-10 minutes twice a day and work up to longer periods of time. This can be during feeding or with a high value stuffed kong or chew bone. You don't want your dog to associate a new baby with these new rules, so start this as soon as you can so by the time baby comes they are used to having 'separate time'.
Download some baby sounds on itunes...Try Crying and screaming (sorry!) and giggling, etc. Play these sounds on low while your dog eats or has play time/ training time. Every few days, turn the volume up. The goal is to desensitize them to these sounds AND counter condition them by pairing the sounds with something fun and positive.
Get your stroller set up early! Make sure they are comfortable with it inside your apartment and with subtle movements, then work on taking them for a walk with it. It's important that you and your dog can get into a groove and work out the kinks before an actual child is in there. You may look a bit crazy walking with a babyless stroller, but hey, its NYC. People have seen weirder.
Be conscience of how much time you are spending with your dog . You don't want to spend 24/7 with your dog and be giving constant attention, then baby comes and the contrast can be difficult. Try to allow your dog to be independent and self entertain at times throughout the day.
Work on your Drop-Its and Leave-its. This is super important to be able to avoid your dog stealing diapers and dropped toys.... Or at least being able to get them back!
If you are feeling overwhelmed about caring for a high maintenance dog and a new baby, have your family or friend watch your dog for the first week or two until you adjust.
Have someone bring a receiving blanket home to your dog after delivery. Let them sniff the new baby scent on the blanket and toss some treats.
Meet your dog in lobby or outside of your building. Have someone else hold baby and give your dog a big hello. Take a brief walk to help your dog calm down and adjust back to you being home. Then allow him to sniff near your newborns feet while they are in stroller or babyseat. Praise and then call away to give a treat and repeat. Once settled and comfortable, everyone can go upstairs together.
Make sure your dog is set up with a dog walker, daycare, or some sort of exercise regimen. It is essential that they are tired out and happy-go-lucky. Designating special training time once or twice a day would also be ideal. Your dog needs attention too!
Safety first. No matter how sweet and fantastic your dog is around the baby, make they are never left alone together without proper supervision.