Preparing Your Pet for the Stork's Delivery
MADISON, Wis. - “My dog is my baby,” is a common phrase among dog owners. But what happens when it is time to welcome home a newborn? Training your pet to be prepared for the new addition can be the difference between your child's safety and potential problems.
Anne and Jason Khodadad were getting ready for one of the most exciting moments in their lives, but their furry family member was not so sure this was the best idea.
“I felt a little nervous because I wasn’t sure how (our dog), Red, would react to having a new baby in the house,” said Anne Khodadad.
According to dog trainer Tiffany Gutman, the couple's fear is common, and one that can and should be addressed well before the newborn arrives.
“People would call and say, 'You know what, my baby’s mobile now and all of a sudden (the dog is) growling, it’s barking, I’m afraid.' ” Gutman said. “And unfortunately a lot of those people were just re-homing these dogs or getting rid of them.
Gutman said that many animals, especially dogs, are surrendered to shelters each year.
“I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to happen,” she said. “We spend nine months getting ourselves ready and then we forget about the dog. Then all of a sudden blam! We bring baby home and we do nothing and we think they will just get along.”
But Gutman said this is a transition that doesn’t have to be as difficult as that, with some simple planning and effort.
“It’s a process that maintains,” she said. “If you’re in the hospital, if someone can bring home a blanket so the dog can get a scent before baby even comes into the house.”
“One of the things we did was we set up the crib and the bed and some baby toys early so that they wouldn’t be new in the house when the baby came home,” said Anne Khodadad.
And as Gutman predicted, the planning paid off.
“I feel comfortable with the baby and the dog in the same house,” said Anne Khodadad. “I never worry if they’re in the same area. I know that Red is comfortable having the baby here.”
Now with a room full of more and more toys Anne and Jason are expecting another new addition to the family. But this time they are a little more at ease.
There are some tell tale warning signs that your dog isn't feeling comfortable, which Gutman said signs are key to take note of.
If dogs are wining because of less attention during pregnancy, it’s a good idea to start the training process right away.
Dogs are all about space. A new baby violates that space. Start training the dog by giving separation and space guidelines.
Last and most importantly, never pet your dog if he or she reacts to the baby. You will think you’re calming it down, but you’re really showing affection and encouraging the behavior.
If you have a little one on the way and want to make sure the transition goes smoothly, Gutman has produced a DVD titled “Parenting your Pack” to help new parents through the transition. For more information or to purchase the DVD visit pawsitivlyk9s.com.
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Matt Van Hoven contributed to the print version of this story.
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