You just got the news, a baby is on the way! Supreme joy, shock, surprise, and even a bit of fear (probably a mix of all the above)!
Now is the time to think about how you are going to prepare for the baby, right? Equally important, you also need to prepare your dog for the baby’s arrival too!!
Babies mean change is coming. Better to get prepared for those changes for your dog too! Grandma’s and Grandpa’s this is for you too!
You are going to need to have structure, schedules, and healthy boundaries in place BEFORE baby arrives!
We send all our clients home with our SCHEDULE for SUCCESS and 10 RULES TO LIVE BY in order to provide solid strategies that will help resolve problems in the future. If you think everything is hunky dory right now with your dog and you are not experiencing any issues, you might be surprised when you actually begin implementing our program because it might reveal some challenges you were not even aware of. Most importantly, bringing this structure and routine into your life, even when there is no trouble with your dog, will ensure that your dog and your child will live together in a safe, sane and civilized way. I always say, our foundation makes bad dogs, good. It makes good dogs, great. And it makes great dogs, exceptional!!!
Here is how to best prepare your pup before baby arrives.
In my Pillars of Pack Leadership foundation we address Feeding Rituals and Resting Rituals. These times matter because they matter to a dog in a very primal way. In dogland there is order to how they eat, when they eat and how they rest. He who controls the ritual, controls the authority in the relationship.
You know there will be times in the day when you simply cannot pay attention to your dog, so it’s wise to put into place appropriate, safe confinement areas, like a crate or an exercise pen, during those times when your dog can rest, eat, and have a break from the hubbub of baby AND not get into trouble when you are simply too distracted. If crating or confinement has not been part of your daily routine, START IT NOW! You can read here more about how to crate train your dog. Remember, a crate or safe confined space is the BEST place your dog can be when you cannot be present or acting in a supervisory role. To start, I recommend feeding your dog in his crate. I’m a fan of meal times in safe, confined spaces. It makes the confined spot a nice place to be…who doesn’t love a comfy hotel room with a stocked mini bar!
You are accomplishing TWO important concepts with your dog by having this mealtime ritual:
- It protects children from inadvertently activating a defensive or guarding mindset with the dog
- Whoever controls the food, controls the power in the relationship. We need YOU, the human in charge, to control when and how your dog gains access to food. He needs to know that YOU are the senior partner in the relationship. And he needs to know that being respectful around food and humans is an expectation for living life together. It’s very important that your dog understands this dynamic because we don’t want your dog thinking he can go snatch food whenever and wherever he wants (especially from your child’s hands!)
Incorporate Rest Times into your Schedule
Your dog WILL NEED a break from your child, regardless of how sweet, mild, calm-minded a dog is. If you do not plan on breaks for your dog, you could put your dog in a position where he will DECIDE he needs a break in an unpleasant way.
Safe, restful places, matter for dogs in a homes with children. When baby is a baby, your dog needs to know he cannot have access to baby, unless you say so. Later on, when your child is older, your child will need to learn he cannot have access to doggie unless you say so. Good lessons to be learned for both the dog and the child…it’s not all about them! You have options for breaks, you can crate, use an exercise pen or use PLACE for rest, breaks. PLACE is raised dog cot or comfy bed with a significantly defined, bolstered edge (a flat bath matt is not defined enough). The goal is to ask your dog to go onto this defined space for a defined amount of time. You put your dog on place, she remains on it until you invite her off. When dogs are on PLACE, no child or person or living thing will bother a dog while on PLACE. No touching, no talking, no staring at her. It’s a safe spot in your home that is a safe place where your dog can trust and believe that this space is free from everything around her, and that it’s her zen spot to tap into a calm state of mind.
Preparing for baby is an exciting time, and cherished time! Preparing your dog with these two rituals will help to start the communication between you and your dog and help forge yourself into a valued leader in your home.
We have a special workshop coming up at the end of this month with a very special offer–all about Kid & Dog Safety…click HERE if interested!