You are the whole world to your dog. Although there is also probably a big space in its canine heart for food, the park and its favourite toys, when you walk through the door it's a dream come true, every time.
So what happens when you bring home a tiny baby and all the accompanying new smells, sounds and routines? The dog is no longer the centre of attention and everything it knows is turned upside down. It's hardly surprising that, unless the situation is handled carefully, many dogs will present challenging behaviour.
Here are some top tips for ensuring your dog adjusts well to the arrival your new baby.
Top tips for introducing dogs to a new baby
1. Brush up on training
If your dog failed its obedience class the first time around, it's time to go back to school. Behaviour that seemed mischievous before, like jumping up at you, can be potentially dangerous when there is a baby in your arms.
2. Familiarise your dog with children
Children behave differently to adults, making unpredictable noises, movements and smells. Take your dog to a park and observe how he responds to kids from a distance. If he is comfortable, ask a friend with children if you can walk near them with their child in a pram, moving alongside if your dog is relaxed.
3. Introduce smells and equipment early
It will help your dog to adapt if the changes to your home are staggered rather than arriving all at once along with the baby. Introduce smells like baby lotion and powder and introduce the cot and toys so your pet becomes familiar with them.
4. Practice with a doll
Although it might make you feel crazy, this can be really helpful: buy a baby doll and treat it like an infant. Coo to it, take it for walks in the pram with your dog alongside, wear it in a baby carrier – it will all help to get your dog used to the idea and give you an opportunity to correct problematic behaviours when you don't have a real baby to take care of.
5. Have the father carry the baby into the home
If the baby's mother is in hospital for a day or two, your dog will be overjoyed to see her return. If she walks in carrying the baby, she can't make a fuss of your beloved pet and it may immediately feel jealous and rejected.
6. Help your dog develop positive associations
Show your dog that good things happen when the baby is around. Give the dog treats when it is in the same room as the baby, especially if it is crying. Keep a pot of something tasty at the end of your changing table so you can throw a few at nappy
time. Your dog will soon associate crying and dirty nappies with food, rather than finding them distressing.
7. Don't punish growling
If your dog growls or behaves in a way you do not like, resist the temptation to punish it as this will only stress the dog further and reinforce a negative association. If problematic behaviour persists, consult a professional.
With a little one on the way, are you confident you could afford to cover vet's bills if your dog became sick? Pet insurance from Computerquote can give you peace of mind.