A pregnancy in the family can be an exciting time for everyone — even your dogs.
Animals are so sensitive to their owners, that they're likely already aware something is going on with Mom when she's pregnant. However, they may not know exactly how to behave. They are, after all, picking up on all our emotions: happy, sad, excitement, worry, anxiety, etc. (I know my girl Kaiah, mirrors my emotions all the time.)
I have a friend who is expecting and she has two dogs in the house. I can only imagine what emotions her dogs are picking up on.
So, in honor of her, I thought I'd gather up some hints on what makes for an easy transition for ALL your babies, whether they've got four legs or not.
The No. 1 principle to remember: your dog should always respect the baby as a pack leader. This is something you must instill into the dog early on.
Let's take a look:
1) Start with the nursery. Before baby is born, allow the dog into the nursery only WITH your permission before the baby arrives. Let the dog come in and sniff certain things, and then send them out of the room. This sends a message to your dog that these items are yours, and that he is to respect it.
2) When baby arrives, bring home a burp cloth first or something else from the hospital that has the baby’s scent on it. You can’t just bring it home and leave it there. You'll want to have the dog sniff it from a distance while you hold the item. This reinforces to your dog, again, that the item is yours, and you are allowing him to sniff it.
3) When baby is on the way home, have someone take the dog for a long, energy-releasing walk. This way, when your dog comes home, the baby will be in the house. Make certain the dog is calm and submissive before bringing them in (hopefully, he's all worn out from your long walk). The baby can be in another room with Mom, but the scent will already be there. Mom, Dad, or whoever is holding the baby, must stay calm. Remember, the dog will mirror your emotions. You can allow the dog to sniff the baby, but at a respectful distance. You can allow the dog to come closer gradually. Keep in mind the type of respect that the dog should be giving you and the baby. You've been instilling it since you started putting up the nursery.
4) Down the road, as your baby gets older and begins crawling, remember to teach baby to respect the dog, too. They should know it is not OK to hold an animal by the neck, or yank their tail or ears. Some of you will say, “My dog is OK with it.” Yes, your dog may be OK with it now, but like us, the older they get, the less tolerable they are. I would hate for an animal to get punished because the child was not taught to be gentle.
It is teaching that mutal respect on both the animal and human's side that will create a harmonious living experience.