We are going to have a baby! How to prepare your dog for the appearing of a newborn?
Updated: Nov 13, 2021
Let’s face it: the appearance of a newborn in the home changes the whole life of two people. It turns everything upside down, breaks the peace and sets in motion a machine that will spin like crazy for several months, slow down for a few years, and stop completely when our child goes to college. This revolution affects not only parents but also grandparents, neighbours, friends and … your dog.
The dog was at the centre of the world of its two owners. He was petted, cuddled and pampered. When his people were resting, watching a movie — he slept contentedly, dreamed of treats hidden in the cabinet and felt relaxed. He had his daily routine, which gave him a sense of normalized course of the day, predictability of events, and thus safety. There were long and short walks, breakfast at 7 and dinner at 17, regular hours of loneliness and common time, full of fun and love.
“And suddenly something appears that my wonderful people pay attention to. Mostly all attention. You can’t touch it because you are not allowed. It squeaks and is hugged very tenderly by my people. And sometimes it squeaks terribly loud and everyone is suddenly very stressed and I also start to stress. At night, my family wanders around next to the new system, standing in the bedroom, in which the squeaky package lies, and when I approach, they are yelling at me and moving me away because I’m tangled under their feet. And they forgot that today it’s time for a long walk and hiding with my wonderful owner in the woods. And when I wanted to sniff what’s going on in the estate, my lady jerked the leash and impatiently said something about pee fast and go sleep at home. And where is my every day fooling around on the carpet with my beloved plush penguin? I haven’t cuddled up a long time ago … “
Can a dog be jealous?
Well if you look at the definition of jealousy:
Jealousy is kind of the loss of somebody’s undivided attention. It’s the fear of rivalry.
Jealousy is also when somebody threatens to take something away from you or somebody has something that you want and this perfectly describes a lot of behaviour we see in dogs.
The amount of dogs, that I see that come in between people when they’re f.e hugging or when somebody goes to kiss somebody else and the dog doesn’t like it and react negatively by snapping this person, is quite big. It is very common for little dogs that are sitting on laps and the man won’t want to go and kisses his girlfriend or his wife and then the dog who’s sitting on the wife’s lap will snap at the man. Or another very common problem is when one person is in bed and the dog is on the bed and then the other person comes to bed — then you’ve got that dog protecting the bed from the other person as that of not being jealous or just protective. I think protection is part of that. It’s this fear of loss. Is this fear of rivalry, loss of undivided attention.
The experience conducted by experts in the United States is very interesting (source: documentary series “Dogs: their secrets lives”). A group of dog owners received three items to focus on, instead of devoting them to a dog. Two subjects did not arouse interest in pets: a mug and a book. The dogs were relaxed, slept nearby or with their owner. The third item was a plush dog, which guardians could name, pet and cuddle. Each dog reacted to the toy: some of them were curious, some showed signs of stress. Dogs touched their guardians three times more dogs than when they read or watched the book, while a third of the dogs studied wanted at all costs to step between their guardian and the toy he was paying attention to.
So I think our dogs actually can be jealous and the way we were treated has to be very non-confrontational. The more you are confrontational with a jealous dog the more your dog will show jealous type behaviours.
Why is this happening? Were these dogs jealous?
Research from recent decades has shown that a dog is capable of feeling complex feelings, which includes jealousy, but feels it is a more primitive and primitive way. In the case of this experiment, the so-called favourable jealousy. It results from the following fact:
the dog is aware that the relationship with his human is a key element of his survival and tries to protect such a relationship
And we come to two conclusions: firstly, the emerging newborn according to the dog can pose a threat to the dog-guardian relationship and thus threatens the “survival of the dog”. The second aspect is the change of the daily, often long-term routine and the sudden isolation of the dog from the guardian in relation to what the quadruped had previously ensured.
What to do when we have several months before the appearance of the newborn?
1. learn some basic commands
First of all, the “ place” and “stay” commands will be very useful.
They will help us work on the next point, but they will also be useful when we take care of our child, and the dog will get tangled under his feet or squeeze between mother and child, e.g. during feeding.
2. Prepare your dog for less attention
But first and foremost, we should gradually “move” our dog away from us and get him used to the less attention we give him. It sounds cruel and terrible at all, but it will be best for our dog and our child. Why?
Currently, the dog is in the centre of attention, he follows us to the kitchen to make tea, and when he shoves his head, we slam him behind the ear.
But this will change radically. It will not be anyone’s fault, this is just the way of things. It happens people scream at the dog for no reason because they make us get tired of taking the baby’s sock and wanting to play. We tap on him because we have no strength for a long walk and we want to get home quickly. We will be exhausted and the dog will be regenerated but full of energy to play.
First of all, this isolation, lack of time and being unpleasant to him should not be associated with the appearance of a toddler. Secondly, this should not be a sudden change but a gradual process.
In general, the rule is simple: we contact the dog when we want to, not when he wants it.
It should be, when a dog demands stroking and bring a toy, shoving it in our hand, take his hand, stand up, do something else without a word. When the dog gives it a rest, we can call him and stroke him or play. If the dog follows us to the kitchen, we should send him to his place and tell him to stay there so that he can learn to be isolated and take care of himself.
3. Create a safe spot for your dog
It is also important to provide the dog with its own place: a blanket, a lair or a large pillow, which will be his refuge and a place to calm down. When the dog is resting, do not bother him, invite him to play, just leave him alone. The lair should be moved away from the so-called “transport routes” of the apartment, but so that the dog could see what was happening in his home.
Ultimately, it is also important to teach the older child not to touch the dog when it is lying there.
4. Getting used to unknow things and sounds
An important phase of preparation for the arrival of a child is our pet’s getting used to new, unknown things and sounds. Everything associated with the toddler should be well associated with him: a moving cart means delicacies, a rocker with a bundle inside is a filled kong.
We should get the dog accustomed to the crying of the child (e.g. by playing the sound on youtube) and to walk with the bundle to which we talk, sing and silence them as if it were a real baby. It may be strange for a dog and he will want to see what we hide in this tortilla-wrapped package. The experience that I described with a plush toy shows that about 30% of dogs want to come between the owner and the toy, so it will be wise to check if our dog is in this problematic group and will not jump on us. If he jumps, we have to start working on the problem and tame the dog with our wandering around the house and talking to the blanket.
I have those who have bought a crying doll and pretended to be a newborn baby before the birth, silenced her and rocked her. In this great way, they accustomed their dog to (according to the dog absurd) behaviours and sounds associated with the new household member.
Any of these days we will bring a child from the hospital!
After birth, we have to tame the dog with the smell of the baby. The head of the family has to bring a romper or blanket smelling of a newborn baby, and our quadruped can sniff objects at will. We can also leave them on the couch, for example, so that the pet gets used to this new fragrance in pleasant places.
After coming from the hospital, the dog cannot be in the home / main room, because we will be dealing with the situation of the child entering the territory previously belonging to the dog. The dog should enter the house/room where the child and his smell are.
And lets him sniff as much as he needs. For him, sniffing is collecting a lot of information!
remember that the dog needs you and you are the whole meaning of his life.
However, I have a request to future or newly-baked parents: remember that the dog needs you and you are the whole meaning of his life.
I know that fatigue is enormous and the easiest way is to shorten the walk or ignore the toy. But jerking the rope with you and cuddling up with you is the whole world of your dog.
Don’t forget his needs.
Even a half-hour walk full of fun and interaction will give your dog a lot of joy and the feeling of rejection will be less. You will also catch a moment of breath from a new life. 😊
Show him several times a day that he is still the most important for you.
Giving him time at this critical moment will result in a great guardian of your child in later years.