I’ll be honest, I was meant to write this and have it up before Chloe arrived, her due date was 21st January. I was finishing for the year on 21st December, giving myself a full month to get things organised and write this.
BUT little miss decided to arrive on Christmas Eve instead, best Christmas present ever!!
So now I’m catching up and writing down how I prepared my dogs for Chloe’s arrival.
The key thing for me was that I wanted the dogs to be used to as much as possible, before Chloe arrived, so that when she did the only new thing was Chloe herself.
First thing and probably the most important is teaching your dog to be calm. Making sure that for at least 80% of their time at home they are happy to just chill and relax.
I like to use the calmness wheel which splits the idea of calmness into three sections:
- Passive Calm - This involves giving your dog something calming to do. Using a stuffable toy or long lasting chew.
- Active Calm - This utilises the use of specific areas for rest and calm. Boundary, mat or crate training.
- Calmness Protocol - This is a series of steps to follow to encourage calmness by rewarding your dog for showing calm behaviour.
I’m not going to cover calmness completely here as it is a big and important topic that deserves its own article! The important thing is that your dogs go to behaviour is ‘calmness’
Next is getting your dog used to as much as possible, before the baby comes along!
Babies come with a lot of things; I mean a lot! Bassinet, pram, car seat, toys.... and so much more!
You want to get your dog used to and happy with these objects, without the baby. That way it will make it a lot easier when baby is here as the objects are normal. It will be just the baby itself that is new.
The thing to remember about new objects is that you have to get the dog used to them being used, especially if it is likely to be noticed by one of their much more sensitive senses like smell or hearing. A great example of this is the white noise machine, if you’re planning on using one then get your dog comfortable with it, ideally start on the lowest volume and increase it as your dog shows they can be calm in its presence. Also remember dogs are much more movement focused than we are, so you have to get them used to the movement.
Prime example of this is a little swinging chair we have (I’m sure it has a proper name but I have no idea what it is!). We had it sitting in the lounge for a few weeks, both dogs didn’t bat an eyelid. Then one day I turned it on, Kai came running over to investigate, after 10 seconds he was over it and went back to lie down. Perfect reaction!
However, if the first time I had turned it on had been with a baby in it and he’d run over, chances are he would have run over and been told to ‘leave’, which he would have done, but instead of being allowed to naturally make a decision on the object he was being told to leave it. This could lead to him wanting more to do with the object when no one is looking and also a possible negative association to the baby. Chair = fine. Chair + baby + ‘leave’ = something to keep an eye on.
Another thing your dog is going to have to get used to is broken sleep. Having broken sleep is hard work, as we all know. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable with a newborn baby! If you’re not getting enough sleep, chances are your dog isn’t either, especially at night time.
How I tackled night disturbance was quite simple. I had to get up to pee, the not so fun part of pregnancy! When I did, I wasn’t quiet about it. Lights on and moving around, talking to the dogs a bit. Just getting them used to the idea that someone making noise and getting up in the night is no big deal.
Now this perfectly moves me on to ditching the routine. Please do it! If your dog is used to begin fed at certain times each day, or going for a walk at a particular time, stop!!
Get your dog to be more flexible, trust me when you’ve been up with the baby all night and they finally settle at 4.30am, you’re finally going to get some sleep, the last thing you want is to have your dog demanding breakfast at 6am!
Ditching the routine goes hand in hand with ditching the bowl. Having your dog work for their food is a great way to break up their meals, giving you the ability to vary the time it is given. Once baby arrives, this will allow you to feed your dog their daily food allowance when it is a good time for you.
Ditching the bowl also exercises your dog’s brain, this can tire them out, even when they are getting less physical exercise. Let’s be honest, your dog is going to get out less once baby arrives, it just happens. Begin slowly getting your dog used to less physical excursion and more of a mental workout. To be fair, as you get more heavily pregnant, you generally stop wanting to move as much or as far anyway!
Does your dog have great walking skills? Doesn’t pull? If you want to keep that up then be sure to do some training with walking next to the pram. It is a whole new experience for both you and your dog and it is much easier to practice when the pram is empty. Just be prepared for some weird looks from passers by!
Here are some cute photos of Chloe, because I can’t resist!
Please get in contact with any questions