Baby is coming…what do you do with the dog
Getting your dog ready for the Baby’s arrival.
I’ve had a number of calls lately from people wanting help getting their dogs ready for a new baby in the house. Now I’m all for getting a baby instead of a puppy but there are a few things you should know. Dogs and babies can be a natural mix, I mean, you should see my spaniel push my newborn in her baby swing when she’s crying, but you do need to do a bit of work pre baby if you want things to go smoothly.
To give you an idea of what some of these future parents have asked for in the past year
Having the dog not bolt out the door as soon as it is opened (helpful when the UPS driver comes to deliver all those baby gifts),
teaching dogs not to jump when strangers come in the house,
All manner of walking related activities for parents with full hands (strollers, diaper bags, hats, coats, booties……).
These things above are pretty specific to any individual situation but, you may ask, What are the absolutely necessary things you need your pup to do once the baby arrives? Well, here are my picks in order of importance according to a dog trainer.
Necessary commands with a new baby in the house:
Down-stay– and I mean down and stay there until I say it’s ok to get up, not just put your belly on the ground for three seconds then hop up and jump around.
Walk on a loose leash– an ABSOLUTE imperative when you are trying to walk around with a baby in your arms and get the dog a tiny bit of far to infrequent exercise. To a dog trainer this means NO PULLING YOU EVER.
Heel– walking right next to you and staying there. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to try to walk a dog in combination with a stroller if the dog won’t stay right beside you? You’re going to be walking that baby all the time anyway, wouldn’t it be great if you could exercise the dog while you’re doing it? I mean Fido is going to be suffering from lack of attention anyway when the baby gets here so do yourself and the dog a favor and get this one worked out.
Sit when you stop moving– Just sit there once you stop moving. Trust me, you’re going to be fussing with the stroller, baby, neighbors, mailbox, pacifiers, hats……and everything else and you don’t need your dog pulling you over backwards to run over and sniff that pile of deer poo in the next yard while your cleaning off the pacifier after it hits the sidewalk for the fourth third time in twenty minutes.
To me these are the bare minimum toolbox of dog commands you’re going to need if you are expecting a baby. And I mean bare minimum. This will keep you sane and probably save your dog from lots of yelling.
Now for the hard part. Don’t wait until you are eight months along before you start working on this stuff. Dogs need lots of practice and repetition before they master commands, so if you know a little one’s coming make the commitment to get your dog in shape BEFORE arrival. After that baby gets here you just aren’t going to have the bandwidth to deal with training a dog so do it now! Trust me, I’ve got a new little one in my house and if my dog’s weren’t reliable with their commands things would be total CHAOS.
Austin Dog Trainer
Fidelio Dog Works