9 Steps You Can Take During Pregnancy To Get Your Dog Baby-Ready
Your dog has always been a member of your family; that family is just bigger now.
Dogs are the best.
Babies are pretty radical too.
But there are a few things you should know about mixing dogs and babies so that they can both maintain full awesomeness.
Congratulations! You're having a baby!
It's never too early (or late!) in your pregnancy to start working with your dog on key commands, and boundaries that will make life much easier for everyone once the baby is born.
1. Get comfortable with obedience training.
Sit, stay, lie down, wait, leave it, and settle (especially settle, tbh) are all great basic commands that are relatively simple to teach your pet. When you're handling a newborn and your nerves are shot, you'll be grateful to have taken the time to ensure that your canine companion is easy to verbally control.
2. Seriously, teach them "settle."
L.A.-based dog trainer and father Scott Shanahan (full disclosure: he's my husband) stresses the importance of keeping your dog in a calm, relaxed state when the baby is near. The ASPCA has a great step-by-step breakdown of how to work with your dog on this particular command.
3. Start changing the rules now.
4. Teach your dog a "quiet" command, but don't overuse it.
Curbing barking is great, but allowing your baby to get used to the sound of your barking dog in the womb is the greatest gift you can ever give yourself as a parent.
(Still, "no speak" ranks up there with "settle" on the list of commands that saved my life with three dogs and a baby. It also ranks up there on the list of commands my now 5-year-old daughter has totally mastered on her own.)
5. Establish visual boundaries.
According to Shanahan, dogs are great with visual boundaries, and instilling in your dog that they need permission to enter the kitchen, the baby's room, the bathroom, or the foyer to your home can all begin with simple boundary training.
Teaching your dog not to bolt out the front door is invaluable under any circumstances, but when your hands are full with baby gear or you're trying to maneuver a stroller, it's a skill that becomes downright necessary.
6. Consider how the baby will change your daily routines, and start practicing.
Will your dog's morning walk be moved to the evening, or is their mealtime going to need to shift with the baby's schedule? Starting to make those changes now will keep your dog from negatively associating these things with the baby and help them roll with the punches.
7. Get your pet acclimated to the new sights, sounds, and smells that come with a newborn.
According to ASPCA.org, now is the time to "gradually introduce your dog to the new experiences, sights, sounds and smells she'll encounter when you bring your baby home, and associate these new things with rewards."
Shanahan recommends unboxing and set up all of your baby-related items well in advance to give your dog the chance to check them out and get comfortable with the sounds they make and the ways they move before the baby arrives.
8. Avoid the temptation to give them extra love beforehand.
This is probably one of the hardest things about parenting pets and humans in tandem. You know you'll be spending less time squeeing over your pets when the baby arrives, so the temptation to give them all the extra loving you can manage in the weeks leading up to your new addition is going to be strong. Sadly, giving in will only make the transition harder for your pet when the attention abruptly goes away. The ASPCA actually recommends gradually reducing the attention you're giving your dog as your due date approaches so the shock to their system is minimal when your focus shifts to the baby.
9. Now take a deep breath.
Everything is going to be OK. Your dog and your baby are going to love each other as much as you love both of them. I promise. One day, you'll have heart-melty photos like this to prove it.