Dog and Baby – How do I prepare my dog for a new baby?
- Mums Tips
- Baby & Toddlers
- Published on Thursday, 21 January 2016 11:05
- Last Updated on 18 January 2016
- Sarah Beeson MBE
- 0 Comments
If you’re expecting a baby and up until now your dog has been the baby in the family getting them ready for you’re the new arrival well in advance will make it easier on all of you.
Start preparing your dog months in advance
Veterinary Surgeon Dr Emma Nicholas (Mum of two boys) from Barons Court & Notting Hill Vet explained that giving your pooch plenty of time is key; “Give yourself plenty of time to let your dog adjust to being demoted in importance before your baby arrives.”
“Gently start to distance yourself by gradually leaving your dog at home for slightly longer periods of time,” suggests Emma. “If your dog is used to sleeping on the bed or sofa, it’s a really good idea to get them used to a bed or basket of their own nearby. In this way they won’t suddenly be upset if they are no longer allowed when the baby arrives.”
“By encouraging your dog to become self-sufficient the stress of the change will be minimized,” explains Emma.
Let someone else walk your dog
“Having another person who your dog bonds with like a regular dog walker, a friend or family member will mean that you can leave them with someone else when you need to, without it causing stress. It should allow your dog to maintain a routine when you can’t manage it.” Emma advises.
“Using an Adaptil plug-in or calming supplements from your vet can also work wonders in the transitional period.”
Get your dog into a routine
Emma advises that establishing a routine with your dog and maintaining it as much as possible will cause less upset. “Work out in advance how you can manage caring for your baby alongside your dog’s usual walk times. It is important that your dog doesn’t feel rejected when the baby comes home; forward planning will make it easier to adjust your dog’s routines as your baby’s routines change too.”
Though most mums will tell you babies “routines” shift all the time so don’t feel like you have to stick to a rigid routine, do what works for your family.
Sarah Beeson MBE former Health Visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family agrees that, “having a routine for your dog that works around your baby’s flexible routine is less stressful for everybody.”
“It’s a bit like caring for a toddler when a new baby arrives,” explains Sarah. “If you’re in a relationship talking about how you’ll manage your responsibilities as a pet owner whilst meeting your new babies needs will put you ahead of the game. Today’s parents so often work as a team which means all the pressure isn’t just on new mums. If one of you takes the dog for a walk while the other one puts the baby down for a nap, all the hard work doesn’t fall on you.”
Ask for help from family and friends
“When your baby arrives it’s natural to have days when you feel overwhelmed,” reassures Sarah. “Having some friends and family who can step in to take on baby and dog duties will help you get the rest you need.”
“You don’t need to be superwoman and everyone can do with some help and support when they have a baby. Taking some time to prepare and think about how you might want to manage your responsibilities shows what a great job you’re doing already,” praises Sarah.
Give your dog a cuddle everyday
“Even if it’s just having a cuddle while you watch the TV, try and give your dog a little bit of attention every day whenever you can,” suggests Emma. “It’ll stop them getting stressed about being less important in your life.”
Get some fresh air
Sarah and Emma both agree that going for a walk with the baby and dog when you want to is a good opportunity for some fresh air and exercise for all of you.
“It can be really great for mum, baby and dog to go for a walk. I really enjoyed the exercise and the head space it gave me,” said Emma. “Everyone’s needs were met so it’s a win-win when you feel up to it.
“Some mums like to use a baby carrier so they can keep their hands free for holding a lead or throwing a ball,’ explains Sarah. “Whether you carry your baby or take them out in a pram it doesn’t matter but babies who get out in the fresh air on daily basis have much more chance of sleeping well at night. The soothing motion frequently induces slumber so, fingers crossed after you’ve walked the dog you can put your feet up with a cuppa when you return home.”
Safety Tips for Dogs & Babies
“No matter how nice your dog is, it’s better to be cautious as accidents can happen in a spilt second,” advises Sarah.
- Never leave your dog unattended around your baby or put them close together. If your baby pulls or hits the dog they are likely to retaliate on instinct.
- Play it cool. Don’t try too hard to get your dog to like the baby, they’ll become friends in their own time
- Be realistic about your dog’s ability to understand and recognise it’s natural they may feel pushed out.
Former health visitor and parenting expert at The Baby Show (www.thebabyshow.co.uk)
Dr Emma Nicholas Head Vet MA (Cantab) VetMB MRCVS
In 1994 Emma graduated from the University of Cambridge and became a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Since early 2000s Barons Court & Notting Hill Vet have earned a special place within the West London community offering friendly veterinary services to the highest standards whilst keeping treatment affordable for local pet owners. The surgeries at are the cutting edge of veterinary practice and have built up strong relationships with specialists in all fields of veterinary medicine. The team pride themselves on being a source of support to all their clients and patients.
Sarah Beeson MBE
In 1969, 17-year-old Sarah arrived in Hackney in the East End of London to begin her nursing career. Six years later she went into health visiting, practicing for over 35 years in Kent and Staffordshire, and building up a lifetime’s expertise and stories through working with babies and families. In 1998 Sarah received the Queen’s Institute for Nursing Award and in 2006 was awarded an MBE for Services to Children and Families by Queen Elizabeth II. She divides her time between Staffordshire and London, writing and meeting wonderful readers and parents. Sarah’s books include The New Arrival and Happy Baby, Happy Family. She regularly writes for parenting publications including Gurgle, Mother & Baby and Prima Baby and Pregnancy. She is a baby expert for The Baby Show, Mumsnet Bumpfest, Tommee Tippee and Pink Lining.