New parents often struggle with how to keep their dog included in their baby’s life in safe ways. According to Penny Layne, licensed Family Paws™ presenter and instructor of the Dogs & Storks® program, family members can prepare their “fur baby” for a newborn’s arrival and be proactive in making sure they are a part of the family. In Dogs & Storks®, offered at Magee and other locations throughout Pittsburgh, parents learn such techniques as how to set up the home environment for success and safety, the importance of including dogs from the start in a safe way, and the subtle body language of dogs.
“Often times we forget that the dog needs time to get acclimated to changes going on such as moving the dog’s toy box to make room for a pack and play, moving his resting location for the best place for a babies swing, or even getting used to things that move like swings, strollers, and even high chairs on wheels,” says Penny.
The sooner parents can prepare your pet to transition to life with a newborn the better! Here are a few of Penny’s tips to help furry family members get ready for before and after the baby’s arrival:
Before the Baby’s Arrival
- Identify and decrease attention-seeking behaviors such as pawing, barking, or jumping.
- Become familiar with the subtle signals and body language of the family dog.
- Begin a baby-friendly, flexible routine of feeding and activities – and include the dog!
- Be sure to find opportunities to practice obedience skills.
After the Baby is Born
- Use “success stations” to keep the dog included in the baby’s life using crates, gates and tethers. Success stations allow dogs to safely watch from a distance while being acclimated to the baby and activities that are new to him such as parents feeding or changing the baby.
- Understand that many people go through a temporary phase called “impulsive rehoming phase.” There are times new parents may think their dog would be better off if they rehomed him. However, a large majority of parents end up wanting their pet back and feel sorry they ever chose to rehome them. This is typically just a phase.
- Take up family and friends offers to help by asking them to exercise the dog, or to prepare frozen meal kongs or other mental stimulation puzzles.
[To sign up for the next Dogs & Storks® class visit https://classes.upmc.com/. Search the name of each class in quotes, or select "Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC" to view all Magee classes. For more information on introducing the family dog to your baby, check out Family Paws™ free parent video http://familypaws.com/2012/introducing-dog-to-baby-welcome-home-webinar/ or visit www.familypaws.com for parent resources and articles. Penny Layne also offers private consultations which can be scheduled at 724-515-7790 or firstname.lastname@example.org]