Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Preparing For A New Baby

In case you haven't heard yet, my husband and I are expecting our first child in June.  It's a wild and crazy time for us, but this journey doesn't just involve the two of us.  It also involves our dogs and cats (otherwise known as our "first born").  Things may get stressful for us, but at least we know exactly what's happening.  Cody and Lollie, however, may end up having a much harder time of things.  So, for all those who are facing the same predicament, here are some tips.

1)     Train your dog.
Obedience training can definitely be an asset when bringing a new baby into the home.  Imagine taking your dog on a walk.  Now imagine it with a stroller and diaper bag.  Scary thought, huh?  Teaching your dog basic commands such as down, off, stay, and heel will make life much easier once the baby’s in the home.

2)     Keep your dog off furniture.
At the very least, teach your dog to ask permission (sit, down, etc.) before jumping up.  This is important if your child is on your bed.  Your dog could jump up and not even realize the child is there, causing at the least a scratch and the worst serious damage.

3)     Consider Crate Training
Crate training is less for the baby’s safety and more for the dog’s.  The crate provides a quiet, secure, area where your dog can sleep or relax undisturbed.  It is also important to teach your children (and their friends) that the crate is your dog’s quiet area…like a meditation room.

4)     Start Socializing.
Get your dog used to children.  Children cry and scream and run around.  They smell funny and make funny noises.  They don’t pet, they smack.  They often pull on ears and tails, climb on, and chase.  They stick their fingers in eyes and ears and food bowls.  They come along with very odd accessories like diapers and strollers and cribs.  They get cool “dog” toys that the dog can’t have.  Oh, and they get all of Mom’s and Dad’s attention.  Get your dog used to all of these.  Try walking him with a stroller.  Hold a baby doll.  Any sort of baby-item that uses batteries or electricity should be turned on at some point.  Take your dog to play grounds (the younger the dog the better).  Record the sound of a baby crying and play it on a nightly basis for your dog (you might get used to it too).  Oh, and don’t forget that your dog’s schedule will change.  Prepare your dog for early-morning feedings.  Throw off his eating and walking schedule.  Basically, let your dog know that all the changes are not necessarily due to the new baby.

Hans and I are lucky in that both Cody and Lollie have spent a lot of time with small children, and their life is in constant upheaval (ah, the life of a business owner).  But if your dog hasn't gotten used to kids yet, and you're considering children in the near future, don't wait to get started.  Don't assume everything will be fine because your dog loves you.  Start getting her used to the new situation now.  Don't wait for the baby to come home, and don't wait until your pregnant.  Plan ahead a little.  Oh, and have fun!!!


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