Every once in a while our humans surprise me and my brother Jackman. Surprise they did when we figured out that mum's belly was growing with a two-legged sibling for us. Studies show that we dogs have the ability to sense earthquakes before they happen. Is that the same for pregnancies of our human parents? I believe so. As the weeks went by and mum's belly grew we saw changes in our parents behaviour, new furniture came into the house and things that looked like toys for us, but weren't were kept in a cage (cot) that our mouths couldn't reach. Through research, reading and observation we and our human parents discovered 6 tips to help prepare us for our new baby sister that we'd like to share in order to help other dog families.
Set up your baby's room early. This allows us dogs to adjust to changes without the little human. We can sniff the new items and get use to them. Our parents will indicate what is ok for us to sniff, grab or leave alone.
Practice walking your dog(s) with the pram. Our humans have the added challenge of training two of us to walk alongside the pram. If you can train one us to walk nicely with the pram, adding an extra dog or two will be easy. . . we hope. Leave the pram in an area of the house where your dogs are able to investigate it. Once they seem comfortable with the new item, push the pram around the house. Your dogs may instinctively follow you. If not, call them to you, while ensuring they stay by your side or behind you. No need to use a lead at this point. If they stick by your side without a lead, then you can be confident that they will with one on when out in public. As you're confidence grows with navigating the pram and your dog, take the exercise into your backyard. Continue to practice there, until you and your dog are ready to venture off your property. You may look a bit silly walking a pram with no baby in it, but you will be thankful when there is a baby and your dog walks calmly with you.
Leave out baby furniture items. There will be delivery of many baby items in the weeks leading up to your baby's arrival. A pram, a cot, a bassinet. . . the list can go on and on. Place items your baby will spend time in areas that your dog spends time in. Our baby sister's bassinet sits on the couch in the lounge. Don't draw their attention to the item. Rather, let them sniff and explore on their own. When they approach it, sniff and leave it reward them with a pat or a "good puppy." Your dog will begin to have a positive association with the new items.
Let your dog sniff. My brother, Jackman is extremely curious. He sniffs everything new and old. Sometimes his curiosity gets the better of him and his sniffing turns into taking hold of an item. Sniffing the baby's clothes, blankets, nappies, toys is a natural way for dogs to learn about new things. When you receive gifts of blankets or clothes invite your dog to sniff the item and praise them when they sniff and leave it alone. If they see it as their new toy practice "Leave It," a training technique Sophia Yin encourages all dogs and owners to learn.
Help your dog practice self control. Possibly the most important tool for you and your dog to have in your arsenal before the baby arrives. A calm, relaxed dog and humans will make the transition of a new addition much easier for everyone involved. Learning and applying the Amichien® Bonding method will help your dog learn self control. Also, teaching your dog a solid "down-stay" will build their self control and trust with you.
Humans practice consistency and leadership. At the end of the day, it is up to you humans to make this change for us all as seamless as possible. Yes, there will be sleepless nights and crying babies, but all we dogs ask, is that you consistently act as the leader for our pack so we can enjoy our role as dogs and fur siblings to our new baby sister or brother.
In our research we found that different behaviourists, trainers, dog listeners recommended ignoring your dogs in the week or two leading up to the arrival of your baby. Other schools of thought are to maintain consistency. Our humans opted for the latter approach because they are the leaders and while we will get less attention in the early days, weeks and possibly months, we know they still love us. Ignoring us now is not going to indicate to us that there is a change afoot. A better suggestion, is send us on a holiday, like our humans have done before the baby arrives. We're currently holidaying at Woofingtons.
Once our new little sister arrives we'll give you tips on how to introduce your babies, based on expert advise and what worked for our humans.