2015 is expected to be a big year for babies in Singapore! For some of us who are adding a new little one, we might already have a baby (of the furry variety) living at home – and they can be even more finicky than older siblings.
Please welcome dog trainer Michelle Chan with some timely expert advice on bringing a new baby home to your pet and helping everyone get along. And when bubba gets a bit older, check out Michelle’s great tips for ensuring harmony between kids and dogs.
There are many similarities between raising a puppy and raising a baby, but they each bring such a unique brand of joy to a family (and to each other!). First impressions count and we can certainly take some key steps to help the relationship between your beloved pet and your new baby blossom:
1. Practise good manners
Before the baby arrives, practise basic manners with your dog so that he knows them well and can do them easily when told. Behaviours like “sit” and “stay” are essential so that you can easily control your dog when you are carrying the baby, keeping baby out of harm’s way. Once the baby arrives, you will have your hands full (literally!) and the last thing you want is to push off 30 kilos of dog jumping up onto you trying to sniff the baby!
2. Listen to babytalk
Play a CD of baby noises during the dog’s meal times to introduce these new sounds in a positive manner to the dog prior to the baby’s arrival. Many dogs, particular those sensitive to loud noises, form a negative association between the crying and the baby, causing them to avoid the child. Helping the dog learn to love the sounds before the baby arrives will help the dog accept the baby’s presence better.
3. Let Fido sniff out his new friend
Many moms ask if they should have dad bring home a blanket with the baby’s scent on it. You can certainly do so and let the dog become accustomed to the scent in positive ways, just like you would with baby noises. Helping the dog create positive associations with things about the baby beforehand can help nurture positive feelings for the baby when they do finally meet.
4. A civilised introduction
When mom and baby have returned home and get settled down (there is no need to rush to have the dog and baby meet!), sit on the sofa with baby in your arms and invite the dog over to check out his new family member. Here is where you can put that manners training to good use – all four paws should be on the ground! No jumping up at baby, and don’t get next to you on the sofa (so as to protect the little one’s face). There is no need for the dog to do an all over check of the baby – just investigating the tiny feet will do!
5. Dogs need a “happy place”, too
Set up different “success stations” for the dog so that it can be included in everyday activities safely or be allowed some quiet time to relax on his own away from the hustle and bustle of family life. Tethering the dog on a leash near you allows the dog to observe the baby and yet stay out of the way, while a crate or fence offers the dog a break from the stressful noise and activity where he can enjoy a toy stuffed with food or doggy chew in peace instead.
Thanks Michelle! Here’s to lots of giggles and waggly tails, mamas!