OK there is another new life coming into your home in the next few months and you are worried that fido or Trixiebell isn’t going to be the centre of attention any more. Will they get on, will they be jealous of the new baby? How do you keep everyone happy? Can you cope?
The good news is that if the due date isn’t for a few months there is plenty of time to get prepared when it comes to your dog. They may already know something is going on as you are probably preparing a nursery or painting or doing some kind of preparation for the baby coming home, they’ve noticed.
Now is the time to put down some ground rules for when baby comes, NOT when baby actually comes home. This means that by then these ground rules for your dog should already be ingrained and a habit. Rather than, not only a new human comes home but now your dog isn’t allowed to do certain things it was always allowed to do before, then you really will have your hands full!
Think about it, you are going to be feeding your baby very regularly, changing, trying to get some sleep etc so start with some ‘no dog zones’. The bedroom is a start as you will be spending a lot of time in here with your baby and you don’t want the dog under your feet or looking for your attention when you are trying to deal with a screaming baby. If your dog has always slept in your room or on your bed it is time to give him his own place to sleep, somewhere where he can actually be out of the way of all the noise and commotion too.
Start thinking about your dog’s routine and how it will fit around the new baby’s routine. If you are going to be up early or late it might be worth thinking about changing his walking routine or feeding routine. Do it now and get him used to it before the baby comes, then his world doesn’t become unrecognisable and he then starts to panic at all the changes. Dogs need their routines just like babies.
If you aren’t sure you can cope with the walking on top of everything else, why not think of paying a dog walker to take Fido or Trixiebell out at the same time every day and then you don’t have to worry about that part at all!
Baby gates aren’t just for toddlers, baby gates are great for separating space but your dog can still see everyone and still feel part of the family and not shut out completely. Put these in place now so your dog can get used to them and obviously make sure that they can’t get over them! Best to find that out now. Then when you do come home with baby he can see what is going on and smell and hear everything.
When baby arrives, bring back a blanket or something that smells of the new baby so your dog can smell it, he’ll also smell the new baby off you too. This will mean he will be more familiar with the smell before the baby even enters the home.
When you come home with your new arrival go and get the baby settled before you worry about the dog. If you have been putting new routines in practise this should be one of the major ones. When you come home or you are moving about the house, spend time actively ignoring your dog. This may sound harsh but most dogs have been given the information from us that they are the centre of attention by us making so much eye contact with them. This is like saying hello and starting a conversation with a dog. The dog then wants to carry on the conversation. Attention seeking dogs will do anything to ‘catch your eye’ and start that conversation. So by actively ignoring your dog regularly, on a day-to-day basis, your dog will start to learn that they only get your attention when you are good and ready to and not before. When baby comes it really will be when you are ready and not before!
Lastly, the introduction. This doesn’t have to happen as soon as you arrive home. Everyone will be tired and the baby may be sleeping. Do this when you feel relaxed and you have some time, like in the evening. Put the dog on their lead while mum comes in with baby and gets settled. If your dog gets excited about his lead, drop it and leave the room. Give him a few minutes and come back in, you want your dog to be nice and calm, not in a heightened state of excitement. Keep doing this until Fido knows he isn’t actually going anywhere and is calm, then lead him into the room.
Sit in a chair away from mum and baby and ignore the dog. Just have a chat and relax and wait until Fido is relaxed to. If he starts getting too excitable, jumping or barking, just lead him back into another room and leave him again. He will soon learn he must be calm when he comes in where the baby is. If however fido remains calm after a 10 minutes in the room, move a little closer and sit and chat again. The idea is to eventually get to sit beside each other, with Fido on his lead being calm and relaxed. With some dogs this might happen in one session. With others this may take quite a few sessions.
They will get it eventually, you are teaching them how you wish them to behave around the baby and what is acceptable if they wish to remain in the room with you. Remember dogs take their cues from us and if we make nothing of it and are calm and relaxed, they will be too.
And finally, Never, Never leave a baby or small child unsupervised with your dog. This is as much for your dog’s safety as for your child. Your dog is an instinctive and reactive creature and should never be left to make a decision on it’s own when it comes to young and unpredictable infants and toddlers.
I hope this helps you have confidence in your dog and your baby being around one another. It can be done and there are so many benefits to having a dog around a home with children. It just takes a little thought and practise to do it right and get it right.
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Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
You just have to read this if you are a dog lover, a business owner or someone in-between with big dreams.
Great tips from Rhonda Abram’s dog Cosmo on not only how dogs benefit the workplace but how we can learn better personal traits and excel at working with people.
I am going to start with a truth which I tell all my clients; Not all dogs are treated equally. Small dogs get away with a lot more ‘undesirable or bad’ behaviour than big dogs. In fact I would put it to you that owners put up with 3 or 4 times the amount of bad behaviour in a small dog than they would tolerate with a larger dog.
Does your pet have a favourite spot on the sofa or your bed? Of course they do as I’m sure you do. We are all creatures of habit. But are the habits good or bad ones?
I know clients who have had to race to bed before their large dog got there or they would end up sleeping on a sliver of mattress. Or their favourite chair is no longer Their favourite chair it is now the dog’s favourite chair.
When I ask these owners as to why they have given up their comfort or beloved favourite spot they always answer with ‘it makes them happy’ and have a kinda dreamy look on their face as they look at their darling pooch sprawled in luxury and snoring lazily on the said favorite chair or sofa spot, while they take the ‘less favoured’ positions around the room.
Is this such a big deal? I hear you ask, does it really matter?
Well the answer is Yes, to both those questions because the canine is a species, much like ourselves who lives in a family orientated structure. Much like our own. Within this structure is the people or animals that look after the rest of the family, mum and dad, grandparents, the older, more experienced family members. Were you ever told as a child to not touch that as it was granddad’s or get up and let your mum sit down? That’s because there are certain benefits or perks to having a responsible role in the family. Why not, you look after the family, you bring home a wage to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. You keep them safe.
So lets look at it from the dog’s point of view. If the human gives out a lot of signals that are inconsistent, like for instance, they let you up on the sofa beside them for cuddles, great! Next day is the same. The following day you’re not allowed up but you wait til they go out of the room and you sneak on. Your human returns and sits back down and cuddles you again, great! What is your dog learning? That you know your own mind and have rules it needs to follow or that you are a bit of a push over?
Lets add to that. What if your dog has taken on the role of the responsible one for the family, you, your husband or wife, the kids and the cat? What if your dog took his role very seriously about the safety of his family. He chases off trespassers (barks out the window or in the garden), he takes you all out for a walk (he pulls on the lead and has bad recall), bringing you back safe. He might even tell you off if you over-step the mark (by growling or even nipping you). Wouldn’t you want the most prized position in the house for doing that job?
I hate to be the one to break this to you but you are probably not the real decision maker of the family in your household if any of that last paragraph sounded any way familiar to you. Dogs, like humans need boundaries and rules. If there are none of these in place as the dog grows up and matures they will make up their own set of rules to create some kind of structure to their lives, just as we would in a group of human strangers. It is in our instincts and our dogs to have someone in charge to keep the young and the weak safe. With someone making decisions and rules, everyone knows their place and hopefully everyone will survive.
So what if your dog doesn’t see you as that someone?
Usually some sort of chaos ensues in the household as the dog starts making up the rules as he goes along. Remember a dog with little or no experience of the world will be learning everything from scratch. He learns that the approaching footsteps to his door makes him uncomfortable and feel threatened so he starts to bark, the footsteps retreat (most likely the postman, paperboy or delivery man) and the dog has just learnt a valuable lesson. Barking makes the stranger go away.
So if you become your dog’s responsibility, in his eyes. Does it make sense that he feels he has to follow you around the house, especially as you sometimes have the habit of disappearing, sometimes for hours, and then re-appearing again? Does it make sense he feels the need to rush ahead and see what’s on the other side of the door, or that bush, or around the next bend in the path? He’s only doing his job! Right?
If any of this has made sense to you as you’ve read it and thought about it, make one rule today that you will stick to. The dog is only allowed on the bed/ sofa/ chair on your terms and when he is invited and be consistent.
He will love and respect you for it.
Read more about Consistency is the key to Success
Please feel free to leave a comment if you found this article useful or you are having trouble taking back your sofa!
Bernie, The Dog Owners Coach
It doesn’t matter who you are to your dog, they will love you for being you. Olympic Gold Medalist Jessica Ennis knows this all too well and says walking her chocolate Lab Myla twice a day while she was training for her Olympic Heptathlon for the past 4 years kept her grounded and loves the time they spend together, it helps her ‘switch off’.
Seems Jess, Myla and of course her partner Andy will be living the high life after her big win, Jess is in line for £5million in advertising contracts and hopefully retaining her title in Rio in 2016.
Well Done Jess!
If you have only started to feed some healthy, uncooked food to your dog or cat but are still unsure, here are some top tips to help you and your pet carnivore make the transition a stress free one.
- Weaning onto a natural raw diet is usually the easiest way to do things. I find minced or ground meat and bone perfect for this as it gets your pet used to the smell and texture first. It also helps your pets stomach acid become stronger over a number of days, preparing it for when they become full time carnivores. Feeding your minced or chunked meat in a separate meal from the processed stuff also helps your dog process and absorb the new food more easily. A lot of dogs naturally will wean themselves onto a natural diet this way and start to refuse to eat dry kibble through this process.
- Texture can be a strange phenomena to some dogs. Bigger pieces of meat on bone can sometimes be daunting and tackling this new food source is a big learning curve. The big tip is don’t put pressure on your dog by standing over them, watching them like a hawk. Let them take their own time to work it out, ultimately they will. I’ve found some dogs, like my own terrier, Bracken don’t like her teeth to sink into bigger pieces of meat like chicken thighs, I get over this by feeding her chicken either frozen or partly thawed for an hour before I give it to her. She eats this without a problem and with gusto!
- Veg and supplements, there are always debates on any forum you read about whether to feed veg or to supplement certain vitamins. My big tip here is to do your research. Read as much as you can from the leading books and feed what you feel comfortable with. If you or your dog were to eat the same food day in and day out, 365 days a year then of course you would only be getting a limited amount of vitamins and minerals. Having a varied diet gives you and your dog a balanced diet. If you decide to feed veg then they should only make up no more than 25% of their food ration.
- Fats for canines are of high importance, they provide extra calories, they are necessary for fat soluble vitamins, they help satiate the appetite and they are an excellent source of fatty acids. If your dog needs to lose weight don’t limit the amount of fat they eat, just reduce the amount of food they eat per day. Then your dog will still be getting all their essential elements for healthy weight loss or gain.
- Feed ‘Meaty Bones’ as often as possible. These act as natural tooth brushes for your pets mouth. Chewing and gnawing on muscle, sinew and bone massage gums, keeping blood supply healthy. It acts like dental floss, removing any bacteria build up between teeth and gums and of course all that chewing releases those essential Endorphins, those ‘feel good’ hormones which help to make your dog feel happy and content.
Please feel free to browse the archive posts on the right as there are many articles about raw feeding, myths and further tips to help you get the most out of feeding a natural diet.
I would love to hear from you if you found this article useful or you have any questions you would like me to answer, please comment below.
Bernie The Dog Owners Coach