Following on from Be Dog Smart week, this blog is focussing on a slightly different side of safety with our dogs.
Preparing for a new baby to join your family is a huge thing for anyone, with all the new information to get your head around. However, as humans we understand what is going on and the change that it is going to happen in our lives – our dogs can’t understand this. That’s why, at Dogs Trust, we have developed a leaflet* to help expectant parents prepare their dogs for this change in their lives.
This leaflet has come in very handy for Education Officer Charlotte as she and her husband prepare for their first baby. They have both been using some of the brilliant training ideas and tips to help prepare their dog, Diggle, for his new human sibling!
One of the first things that they started doing was using the fabulous baby sounds available to download for free from the Dogs Trust website**. They started playing these sounds very quietly in the background when Diggle was around, ensuring he was doing something that he enjoyed at the same time. Gradually, the sound could be increased whilst always ensuring that Diggle was not worried by the noises at all. They are at the stage now where they can play the sounds very loudly, and Diggle pays no attention to them at all.
As well as this, they have been preparing Diggle for the different walks he may experience, by training him to walk nicely and calmly alongside the pram. It’s so much safer to get him ready for this now, rather than when there is a baby inside the pram! They are using lots of positive reinforcement and plenty of treats (much to Diggle’s delight…!) – starting off with practicing around the garden before going out and about to further build his confidence.
They have also been introducing Diggle (and his feline brothers, as you can see from the picture!) to some of the new furniture and accessories that will soon be gracing the house. Again, lots of treats and praise are waiting for him for calm reactions to the new items.
Dogs Trust’s leaflet has plenty more fabulous advice to help expectant parents prepare their dogs, including advice on how to introduce your dog to your new arrival, and how to prepare your dog for changes in routine that they will undoubtedly experience.
Our big advice is to do this work before the baby arrives, to reduce the stress for both yourselves and the dog, and to make sure that anyone who will be around your baby and your dog know the routines and your rules for keeping your baby safe and your dog happy. Please remember that it is never safe to leave a dog and a baby or child alone, even for just a few seconds, no matter how well you know the dog or how well trained the dog is.
Finally, here is a final picture of Diggle, showing how much he is enjoying his new training… mostly because of the treats, we’re sureof course!
*Link for Expecting a Baby leaflet can be found here - https://www.learnwithdogstrust.org.uk/be-dog-smart/dt-bds-8pp%20antenatal%20leaflet-web.pdf
**Link for baby sounds can be found here - https://soundcloud.com/dogstrust/sounds-soothing-baby-crying