12 steps to make your dog baby’s best friend

Pet char­i­ties tell LISA SALMON how you can get your pooch pre­pared for a new ar­rival

Gloucestershire Echo - - FAMILY MATTERS -

IF YOU’RE due to wel­come your first baby into the world, there are a mil­lion things to think about to pre­pare your home for their ar­rival – but what if you also al­ready have a dog? It’s worth think­ing about how you’ll in­tro­duce your bun­dle of joy to your four-legged baby – some­thing the Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex would have faced af­ter the birth of Archie, as the cou­ple al­ready had a labrador and a bea­gle.

Both the Blue Cross and Dogs Trust pet char­i­ties say that all fam­i­lies should ide­ally start pre­par­ing their pet for a new ar­rival well be­fore the birth.

Hol­lie Sevenoaks, head of ed­u­ca­tion at the Dogs Trust, says: “Dogs like rou­tine so it’s never too early to get your dog used to changes be­fore the baby comes home. By mak­ing changes while you or your part­ner are still ex­pect­ing, your dog won’t as­so­ciate the baby with up­heaval.”

While Kerry Tay­lor, ed­u­ca­tion man­ager at Blue Cross, which has

pro­duced a leaflet, How to keep your baby safe around your dog, adds: “Dogs can be very con­fused by big ad­just­ments in their lives, so get­ting them used to new ob­jects around the home, like a pram, cot and toys, is a good idea.”

Here’s some ad­vice to help make sure ba­bies and dogs be­come friends for life.

1. SU­PER­VI­SION

DON’T put the baby on the floor with the dog and never leave your dog un­su­per­vised with the baby, even if they have an ex­cel­lent tem­per­a­ment. Use a stair gate for the nurs­ery so you can keep the dog out but still see and hear the baby.

2. LIS­TEN TO BA­BIES

BE­FORE the birth, to help pre­pare dogs for the sounds ba­bies make, Blue Cross sug­gests play­ing quiet record­ings of a baby cry­ing and gur­gling for short pe­ri­ods. Only in­crease the vol­ume grad­u­ally when your dog is calm.

3. BABY ARO­MAS

GET your dog used to the new smells like baby lo­tion and nappy rash cream be­fore the birth, and have playpens, cots, high chairs and chang­ing mats in place.

4. FIRST MEET­ING

THE best way for your dog to meet the baby for the first time is when

Dogs love cud­dly toys but can find it tricky to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween their toys and the baby’s

the dog is tired af­ter a long walk. The baby should be in­tro­duced in a quiet room where the dog has few as­so­ci­a­tions – not in a place where they usu­ally sleep or eat. Hold the baby and al­low the dog to sniff it. The dog will then lose in­ter­est. When they back away, praise them and give them a treat.

5. AD­VANCE TRAIN­ING

TACKLE any dog train­ing well be­fore the birth. Blue Cross points out that if dogs pull on the lead or don’t come back when called it could be more of a prob­lem if you’re try­ing push a pram at the same time. Prac­tise walk­ing your dog next to a pushchair be­fore the baby ar­rives, al­though the Dogs Trust

Hol­lie Sevenoaks of Dogs Trust

sug­gests a sling might be easier than a pushchair as it leaves you with your hands free to hold the dog’s lead.

6. KEEP AWAY FROM DOG FOOD

BLUE Cross ad­vises own­ers to keep ba­bies and chil­dren away from dog food bowls, and en­sure they’re able to eat food in peace. And if your dog snatches treats, teach them how to take them gen­tly from your hand.

7. DOG-FREE ZONES

IF you want to some­times keep your dog in a sep­a­rate area af­ter the baby’s born, Blue Cross says you can help your dog get used to this be­fore the baby ar­rives by plac­ing them be­hind a stair gate, with a tasty chew, a few times a day for sev­eral min­utes. Grad­u­ally in­crease the time they spend there, so it be­comes some­thing they reg­u­larly ex­pect.

“It’s essen­tial your dog as­so­ciates the baby with pos­i­tive feel­ings, so if you’re in­tend­ing to make some rooms dog-free zones and us­ing baby gates, start do­ing this well be­fore your baby’s born,” stresses Hol­lie.

8. DOG TIME

AL­WAYS make time to stroke or groom your dog, so they have your un­di­vided at­ten­tion away from the kids.

9. TOYS AWAY

PUT the dog’s toys away af­ter play, or even re­serve play time for the gar­den or walks. This will make it easier for your dog to un­der­stand play oc­curs when you pro­duce their toys, rather than when they pick up a toy in the house, which may, of course, be a baby toy made of sim­i­lar ma­te­ri­als. This also pre­vents your baby from pick­ing up the dog’s toys and put­ting them in their mouth.

Hol­lie says: “Dogs love cud­dly toys but can find it tricky to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween their toys and the baby’s, so keep the dog’s toys sep­a­rate and per­haps smear a tiny blob of peanut but­ter on them.”

10. A QUIET PLACE

PETS should al­ways have a quiet, safe place to go to when­ever they need to rest, like a bed in the cor­ner. This will be es­pe­cially im­por­tant to them once the baby ar­rives and even­tu­ally be­gins to tod­dle about.

11. HEALTHY HOUND

MAKE sure your dog is in good phys­i­cal health and free from fleas and worms. Blue Cross warns that any pain or ir­ri­ta­tion the dog ex­pe­ri­ences will lower their thresh­old for ag­gres­sion.

12. TREATS AND PRAISE

AS­SO­CIATE your baby’s pres­ence with pos­i­tive, en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ences for your pet. When they are be­hav­ing well around the baby, give lots of gen­tle praise and tasty tit­bits, and al­ways praise your dog for be­hav­ing gen­tly with your baby.

Make what changes you can be­fore your due date so that your dog doesn’t as­so­ciate up­heaval with the baby’s ar­rival

Keep chil­dren away from the dog’s food

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