Helping Dogs Adjust to a Baby
We are expecting a baby in a few months. I’m a little worried about how well our two dogs will adjust, but my husband says everything will be fine. What do you suggest I do to get ready and to stop worrying? ~ Elena
A new baby causes many changes in a household, so it’s great that you are thinking about ways to help your dogs with the transition. Sign up for a group obedience class that you and your husband can attend with the dogs. Seeing how the dogs behave around a variety of distractions–and every group class is full of distractions!–will help you to pinpoint behaviors to focus on. Having dogs that will walk nicely on a leash and sit and stay for a few minutes will be a big help when you are busy with the baby.
Start thinking about ways you can provide physical and mental exercise for the dogs in the weeks following your baby’s arrival. Your dogs will need extra outlets for their energy during this busy time, and without advance planning, you may find that they don’t get the exercise they need. Ask your friends and neighbors if they can either help exercise your dogs or perhaps watch the baby so that you can take the dogs for a long walk.
Spend some time with your dogs around children. Are they comfortable with the kids’ behavior? Do they worry about loud noises or abrupt movements? If you aren’t sure how your dogs would act around kids, talk to a dog trainer to get some training suggestions that are specifically tailored to your dogs’ needs.
Be aware that most dogs do fine for the first six months. If there are going to be problems, you’ll most likely see them when your baby begins to crawl. So keep an eye on your dogs’ behavior and watch for changes as your baby achieves each mobility milestone.