Dog posing with sleeping baby

Pregnancy is such an exciting time and one full of changes – for everyone! Very often, we forget what a massive transition it is for our furry friends when a new person is about to come home. Chances are that they have already started to pick up that things are going to start to be a little different around their home.

Perhaps they’ve become more attached to you since you fell pregnant, maybe even before you knew you had a bun in the oven – dogs are so intuitive! If you’ve finished up the baby room, your pup has probably strolled in every now and then to have a good sniff around, trying to figure out what’s going on.

It’s a huge transition for your dog, so to make things go as smoothly as possible, here are some tips and tricks for you to put into place to keep both of your babies as happy during this exciting time:

1. The new hierarchy 

As soon as you find out that you’re expecting a new baby, start to make the necessary changes to the relationship that you have with your dog, this includes leadership. You absolutely need to be the pack leader so that you have dominance and can call the shots once baby arrives. Nine months is a good amount of time to get this done, but if you are starting to feel that you aren’t making any headway, calling in an animal behaviourist or going for puppy-training classes is a great idea.

A new command that you may want to teach your dog is to “go away”. This may seem harsh, but it will be very useful when you want your dog to create some space between themselves and the baby. It could also help stop them from constantly licking the baby.

2. Early introductions

Before coming home with your bundle of joy, it’s a good idea to get your dog used to the new baby’s scent. A great way to do this is for your partner to bring home one of the blankets that you have used for the baby in hospital. Place it in the cot (or wherever your baby will be sleeping) and encourage your dog to explore and sniff. This not only gets your pup used to a new scent in the home, but will also help to orientate them as to where the new baby will be most of the time.

baby lying next to a dog on a play mat

3. Familiar habits

When you bring your baby home for the first time, greet your dog as you normally would and keep your routine as normal as possible. For example, if you would normally greet your pooch with a treat and then a cuddle, do exactly that. Although you may be a little on edge, try your best to stay calm and use a soft, happy voice when speaking to your dog.

If you start using an angry or high-pitched voice, chances are that your dog will feed off your anxiety or get over-excited – neither behaviour is ideal. If you’re feeling particularly nervous or you know that your dog is a jumper, you can put them on aleash before coming inside with your baby.

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4. Remember rewards

By now you know your dog’s cues and their behaviour. With the arrival of baby, make sure to reward your furry friend for good behaviour, such as being gentle around the baby. The easiest way to do this is with a treat. Conversely, bad behaviour needs to be dealt with as soon as it happens.

Experts suggest that you don’t raise your voice. Rather use a stern, firm voice and remove your dog from the situation if they exhibit worrying behaviour, including growling or being too rough around the baby. You might have to do this a few times before your pup “clicks”. As frustrating as it may be, try to remember that this is a big adjustment for them too.

5. The new normal

Your whole routine is going to change now that there’s a new baby in your home, but this new normal needs to include your dog and the routine they’re already familiar with. Don’t worry too much about getting them new toys, all they really need is to still feel wanted, so make sure that you give them lots of cuddles and take them on their regular walks.

This will also stop them from getting cabin fever and being “wild” around the baby. If you have an older child, get them to help you look after the pets, such as feeding them. This will help free up some time for you, and also cultivate a sense of responsibility for your child.

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6. Do your prep work

If your dog gets anxious around things like the vacuum cleaner, you may want to introduce them to a few of the new baby items they’ll need to get used to before you little one’s arrival. For example, put the baby’s pram somewhere the dog can see and sniff it, or even take it with you when you go out for a walk. They’ll soon realise that it is completely non-threatening.

7. Form a bond

Remember that as lovely and heart-warming as the relationship between a dog and a baby is, it takes a long time for that mutual respect and understanding to develop. It’s important that as much as you have to teach your dog to behave around your baby, you also need to  teach your baby how to treat your dog with love and respect as soon as they are able to understand instruction. This means no tail pulling, riding on their backs, smacking, kicking, etc.

Adding a new family member into the mix is an adjustment for everyone, and it’s even trickier when one of the family members – like your dog – doesn’t speak. Give your pooch some time to adjust, follow through with these tips and things should go much smoother than expected!

This article was written specially for BabyYumYum by Mascara & Mimosas.

Sarah Booyens Profile ImageSarah is a beauty-product hoarding mama who simply cannot get enough coffee into her system. You can expect to see a little of everything in her blog Mascara & Mimosas, from what makes parenthood a bit easier to her latest beauty obsession – or even what DIY she’s just tried.

Sarah Booyens Profile Image
Sarah is a beauty-product hoarding mama who simply cannot get enough coffee into her system. You can expect to see a little of everything in her blog Mascara & Mimosas, from what makes parenthood a bit easier to her latest beauty obsession – or even what DIY she’s just tried.