For many families their dog was their first child. So, when preparing to welcome a new baby to the house it makes sense to think about how this change will affect your fur-baby.
As a Postpartum Doula I've been frequently asked about this so I reached out to a local veterinarian to see what advice she had.
Having a consistent schedule is important. The key to this is to be sure that it's a feasible schedule after the baby arrives. Feed the dog at about the same time each day. Take the dog for a short walk at about the same time each day.
If this means that things have to change from your current schedule begin to make those changes before the baby arrives. That consistency and knowing what to expect will help to keep stress down as the dog adjusts to life with a baby in the house!
Any new friends?
If you'll be delivering outside of your home be sure the dog is familiar with whoever will be caring for him during the time that you are not home. Having that person come over in the weeks leading up to delivery helps them both to become more familiar and comfortable with each other. And remember, babies rarely come on their due date and an early delivery is very possible. Don't wait until the last minute to make this introduction.
The same is true for the help you will be getting after the baby arrives. If you have hired a Postpartum Doula you might want to have her meet the dog before the baby arrives. This would be a reason to consider interviewing doulas at your home, instead of meeting in a coffee shop or other location. Even if you are sure your dog is very friendly I think this introduction is important to be sure the doula is comfortable with the dog. When I work overnights in people's homes their dogs are often the member of the family I interact with the most (except of course the baby!) as they will frequently be in the room I'm in because everyone else is asleep.
Even if your dog is very gentle always supervise the interaction between your dog and your baby. Babies are mysterious little creatures who often have erratic movements and smell like all sorts of things. These are all reasons that your dog might be very interested in your baby. Be sure that you supervise these interactions.
Some dogs are very interested in this new little family member others are exactly the opposite. Many pets are stressed by babies and should not be forced to interact. Over time, everyone will get used to this new addition!
Life will certainly change for everyone in the house. This often means that your dog will get less attention than he's used to in the weeks just after the baby arrives. Using food puzzles or having a special bone/chew toy will help to keep the dog entertained!
Lots of Exercise!
Just like with a toddler your furry friend will be a lot more chill if he's gotten a chance to get out and about and run. Taking the dog on a long walk might be a job you want to give to someone else. You likely have many people asking how they can help in the weeks after the baby is born. Is taking the dog on a nice long walk a good job for your father-in-law or someone else who's looking for a way to help.
Speak with your Vet
If you have concerns or questions be sure to make a point to speak with your vet. Your vet will be able to offer advice and point you in the direction of local resources if that's something you need.
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