Hi, I’m Georgi, the East London Education Officer.
As part of my job, myself and Ruth, South London Education Officer, attend an Early Pregnancy Evening at University Hospital Lewisham and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. We attend these evenings on the first and third Wednesday of the month, respectively. These evenings are designed for pregnant mothers to have a tour of the facilities and there are also stalls there to give information on lots of different things. Every month we are met with surprise about our attendance as people do not consider how important it is to prepare your dog (or a close family member or friend’s dog) for the arrival of their baby.
If you or someone you know is expecting here are some top tips and answers to frequently asked questions:
The main question we always get asked is can dogs pass diseases to babies? The answer is not if your dog is up to date with all their vaccinations, flea and worming treatments. This is important anyway, but even more so with a baby coming in to the home! Children who grow up with animals actually have better immune systems!
Another question we often get is: How do I introduce my baby to the dog? We suggest someone taking the dog for a long walk and arriving back just before you arrive home - this should release lots of energy and make the first meeting calmer. We also advise taking something of the baby’s home before you arrive for your dog to have a sniff – this way s/he has already had his/her first contact with the baby and it will be familiar when you arrive home.
Lastly, a statement we respond to all the time is: “My dog is my fur-baby and I’m worried they’re going to get jealous of my real baby!”. This is a real concern among expectant parents and something we are used to hearing. The tip is to reward your dog with something really special when s/he is behaving sensibly around the baby. When s/he is giving the baby a little sniff, or lying sensibly near them, we want to reward that behaviour. Your dog then knows how to behave around the baby and sees the baby as something really positive (because they get something super tasty because of them!). Also, making sure you give some time to your dog for a tickle or a really long walk – they were your original babies after all!
If you need any more help or guidance, we have a downloadable guide on our website: https://www.learnwithdogstrust.org.uk/be-dog-smart/