Babies and Dogs: Prepping while Pregnant
You're pregnant! Yah! Your fur baby will be a big brother or sister and you want to make sure he or she is ready.
It takes time to learn or reshape behaviors but the good is you can start laying the groundwork while pregnant so the dog is prepped and doesn't associate a bunch of changes with the baby. Furthermore, you can do less thinking while the baby is here because you've already prepped.
A lot of things go through your mind during pregnancy and I am glad that you are on this page, reading this blog, and thinking about how to prepare your dog for the arrival of your new baby. Let's get down to the nitty gritty about where to start.
Schedule: Get your dog on a schedule
Starting now, get your dog on a schedule of eat, sleep, and play. Here is a sample schedule: https://www.thetreatapp.com/post/a-dog-s-day-an-adult-dog-daily-schedule They should be sleeping at least 15 hours a day - that's usually the hard part. They should have mental stimulation such as games, bones, and training, and physical stimulation, such as fetch, walk, or agility.
Especially when it comes to sleep, implement the schedule now instead of waiting for the baby. When the baby does come, your dog will be used to sleeping at different times of the day and even though their sleep will be less restful (more alert due to more activity), you can still redirect them to their bed as a reminder it is time to sleep.
Sleep is arguably the most important thing for living peacefully with kids and dogs!
Commands: Start or continue training!
Place / Bed: This is my favorite command for living with children and dogs. Dog is jumping on the high chair during lunch? Go to your place. Kids are jumping on a pile of pillows (or another not dog friendly activity)? Go to your place. Dog is jumping on your kid's friends? Go to your place. You'll see your dog doesn't know where to go during some scenarios, especially when there are sooooo many new scenarios. A good rule of thumb is tell them to go to their place and communicate that is where they belong and reward them for being there, therefore motivating them to be there instead of on the kids like they want.
Stay: Keep practicing this command as it is the best way to teach your dog to be in control and do nothing. Life is about distractions so keep advancing how long your dog can stay and what distractions they can endure during a stay.
Off: When you have kids, "off" isn't going to be used for jumping, it is going to be used for creating a perimeter around your kids. Think when they're sitting on the ground and running around. You don't want to wait until your dog is all the way in their face or nipping at their heels, but rather tell them to keep their distance.
Leave it: You are going to introduce pacifiers, baby toys, little itty bitty socks, and more; and everything is going to seem off limits to them. Make sure they understand 'leave it' means they can never get it and they can coexist with these items.
When thinking of commands to practice, it is good to think about your dog's strengths and challenges. If your dog resource guards, practice leave it so he's not guarding stolen socks but rather leaving them in the first place. If your dog gets really excited and jumps, practice 'off' when you come home every day. Furthermore, think about what your dog is good at and use those commands to help your dog find success.
What to buy?
Dog beds: If I can convince you to have multiple dog beds around the house, do it! But if you're thinking about all the baby stuff you have to buy, have at least one dog bed that you can bring around the house. A dog bed can be used during activities that happen every day such as eating, playing and changing diapers. You can eliminate the guesswork (for both you and your dog!) of where your dog should go during those times and tell him to go to his bed (instead of waiting for him to start sniffing the baby's bum during a diaper changing!).
Gates: You can not think about your dog all day, especially as a new parent. Separation is good for you and your dog. Gates allow you to focus on your baby and your dog to rest. Gates also do a lot for stressful situations. We want to minimize stress for the dog where we can and sometimes removing them from a situation is better than having them tag along for the ride.
Long leash: A 15 foot leash will allow you to go outside without worrying about perfect leash walking with a stroller.
Puzzle toys and bones: On those days that get a little crazy and you can't dedicate time to exercising your dog, a puzzle toy or frozen treat will go a long way in stimulating them mentally.
You'll notice the things I recommend buying are all based off the key components to a good schedule :)
What's that noise?! Why is that moving?! What's that smell?!
Everything is new. Even that room that you never went into is now being used. By no means do you have to take out every swing and bouncer, but, again, think about your dog and his personality. Your dog may be nervous, energetic, or attached to you. Start working through some of those behaviors before baby comes to minimize stress.
For example, if your dog is nervous, start putting out some items slowly. You can create a positive association with new items, build confidence and let them get used to it without the added stress of the new baby.
When you have a baby, your dog takes a little bit of a backseat. While pregnant, this is great time to put some time and dedication into learning about your dog and prepping them for the excitement of a little sister or brother.