By Merritt Milam, founder and head trainer at Wags ‘N Whiskers
Wags ‘N Whiskers is a comprehensive training and pet care facility located in Homewood that offers pets a resort style experience defined by compassionate care, positive reinforcement and unrivaled comforts. Our pet care services include training, boarding, grooming, daycare, bathing and a convenient pet taxi. For more information on how we can help you and your pet, visit our website at www.wagshomewood.com, like us on Facebook or call us at 205-902-WAGS (9247).
For many pet parents, the family dog was their first child — adored, spoiled and fussed over for several years before the newest member of the pack arrived. These years of undivided attention didn’t go unnoticed by your fur baby, and the soon-to-be abrupt change of schedule, new smells and sounds are sure to confuse your pooch.
Don’t wait until the new baby arrives to prepare your pup for his new friend. Training must begin months in advance so your dog will successfully accept the newest member of the family with a wagging tail and slobbery kisses. Ensure that your family’s transition is a smooth one with the following six tips for preparing your pooch for a new baby:
Teach your pooch basic obedience skills
Enrolling your dog in a puppy or beginner training class, like ones offered at Wags, will teach your furry friend the necessary skills and commands needed during your family’s transition. Skills like sit, stay, come, leave it and down not only will establish obedience in your dog, but will be necessary when guiding his behavior towards your new little one. Obedience skills like these are extremely helpful to busy moms and dads who need their furry friends to be on their best behavior around a newborn baby.
Change up your daily routine
Life with a new baby can be unpredictable and even hectic at times. Help alleviate potential anxiety by changing up your dog’s schedule prior to the baby’s arrival. Walking, playing and even feeding at different times during the day will be excellent practice for the realities of your new change in schedule. Doggy daycare at Camp Wags is a perfect way to give your favorite furry friend time to play and release energy during the day.
Introduce your dog to baby-like sounds and smells
Loud, crying babies can frighten dogs that aren’t used to such noises. If your pooch is sensitive to loud sounds, try playing a recording of a baby’s cry. Start with the crying on low and gradually introduce your dog to different ranges of sound. Similarly, unwrap some of the baby’s new toys and teach your dog the difference between his toys and the baby’s. Your dog may think the new toys are for him, so take the time before the baby arrives to establish what is off limits to your pooch.
Practice gentle behavior with a doll
Carrying around a life-like doll for a few weeks prior to your little one’s arrival will prepare your dog for common interactions such as rocking, feeding and picking up the baby, which may be confusing. Although the dog will understand the doll isn’t real, it’s still a good practice to train your dog to not jump up while you’re holding or feeding the baby. Practice poking and prodding your pup with the doll to familiarize him with a baby’s sometimes rough touch.
Don’t spoil your dog
Giving your dog extra attention the days prior to your baby’s arrival can do more harm than good. Slowly showing your dog less attention will prepare him for the realistic amount of affection he might receive once the baby is home. Spoiling him with extra time will only be confusing to your pooch.
Start establishing new rules
Chances are your dog’s boundaries and privileges are naturally going to shift. Don’t wait for the new baby to arrive to tell your dog he’s no longer allowed to sit on the couch or sleep in your bed. If the baby’s room will be off-limits, go ahead and start training your furry friend to stay in the doorway when you go inside. Gradually reestablishing house rules will make your dog’s transition less traumatic.
Life with a new baby is an exciting change to your household and Wags ‘n Whiskers is always here to help during this transition!