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9 Steps to Preparing Your Dog for the Arrival of Your Baby
1 – Be proactive
My first trimester brought on a state of extreme fatigue that I didn’t know existed! This stage of pregnancy is a great time to prepare for your child’s arrival. Training and preparing your dog should be part of your plan. You could list some dog toys and games and other items that you will need over the next few months to keep your dog busy on days when you can’t take him out on walks as often. you as usual. It might be a good idea at this point to find a professional dog walker in your area to help with dog walks for at least the last few weeks of your pregnancy and the first couple of weeks after for the child to be born.
2 – Set Goals that make sense
Start by listing the amazing things your dog can do. You will be amazed at all the good behaviors your dog already knows, and then you can start your new training plan with confidence.
As part of your goal setting, formulate an exercise plan for your dog for after the baby arrives. Whether that means hiring a dog walker or having your partner get up early to walk the dog every day, it’s up to you to decide. You could also plan activities that you can do with your dog at home, such as putting a chair outside to play fetch.
3 – Be a great leader and you will get a great dog
The 4 main Leadership qualities you need to display when training your dog are:
1. Control of all resources including food, toys, and attention,
2. Respect for personal space,
3. The ability to influence behavior in any situation, and
4. Proactive intervention.
To be a good leader you must be able to control the things (food, toys, walks) that your dog may want, make sure that he always respects the place your personal space and will not enter uninvited, able to train the behavior necessary for your dog to be polite and safe, and be someone your dog can count on.
As part of my guide dog training program, I always made sure that all of my dogs were comfortable being handled. I created a safe and pleasant place where I could put them if I needed them to settle into their Doggy Peaceful Place. I started by putting treats in their kennels, so they would go in to get them. Once they were going in without any problems, I increased the time they were in their kennels by giving them a bone to chew.
4 – Never forget the basics
During the second trimester, most women experience a return to their normal energy levels, so this is a good time to get more involved in train your dog.
There are certain behaviors that you will need to master with your dog during your training program, but don’t worry – the expectations are not out of reach. Focus on using positive reinforcement to teach him the basic basic behaviors, which are: Answer his name in any situation, Sit, Down, Come, and Walk Nicely. I don’t teach the Wait command because I teach my dogs to hold each position until I give them a call or something else. This way, Stay is incorporated into ALL the behaviors I teach.
In my opinion, it is the NUMBER ONE behavior to teach the Far Down. There are many times when you just need your dog to be able to lie comfortably on his bed so you can rest, change the baby’s diaper, bathe the baby, feed the baby, etc. Trust me… this is so valuable!
5 – Teach your dog GOOD Manners
My GREAT Manners program included teaching the Personal Space Bubble, Wait for Food, Wait at the Car, Wait at the Door, Stay Down, and Leave it. In fact, a manners program uses good stimulus control and teaches your dog how to ask for “permission” by offering appropriate behavior, such as sitting.
The most important thing to your success in teaching your dog good manners is to make sure that you have control over all the resources when training. Set clear boundaries, and don’t let your dog break those boundaries.
6 – Make sure the Rover is comfortable walking next to a stroller or baby buggy
Many dogs get frustrated and excited by things that move. Baby strollers are no exception! Starting in my sixth month of pregnancy, I would walk the empty stroller around the neighborhood so I could teach my dogs that it wasn’t a big deal. As soon as each dog could walk by the stroller on their own, I started working with two at a time, three at a time and finally four of them at the same time.
Take some treats along so you can use them to keep your dog focused while you walk, because in order for him to be able to get dinner, he has to walk politely and calmly next to you . Many dogs will jump all over the place the first time or two they walk next to a stroller. Even if you are used to walking up and down the corridor or around the garden, that would be enough for your dog to get used to moving the stroller so close to them.
7 – Get the baby’s room ready very early
When I was about seven months pregnant, my husband and I painted and set up the baby’s room. I brought my dogs in one by one to check out the room and then taught them an invisible wall at the entrance to keep them out if they didn’t get an invitation
For the rest of my pregnancy, I would take the time to sit in my rocking chair with one of my dogs resting close to me. I wanted them to see the child’s room as a calm place that they were welcome to explore, but only when invited and only if they could stay calm and quiet.
8 – Practice desensitizing your dog to every sound your baby makes
I recommend a CD called Preparing Fido, which is a comprehensive collection of baby sounds. This CD (I’m sure there are many others like it) was great for getting my dogs ready for my daughter’s arrival.
Desensitization is basically defined as presenting a stimulus in a reduced (but gradually increasing) intensity so that it does not cause a fear response. You need to increase the intensity slowly as your dog adjusts to it. If at any time your dog shows signs of fear or distress while the CD is playing, the volume should be turned down or off completely. The best way to do it is to start playing the CD at mealtimes at a very low volume, and then turn off the sound once the meal is over. As soon as your dog gets used to listening to the sounds and does not show signs of stress, you can play it louder and at different times during the day.
9 – Bring home the baby!
Have your partner bring home a blanket from the hospital that has your baby’s smell on it. Let your dog smell it. On the day you bring it home, one of you must go into your first to put your dog on a leash. If he is too happy, take him to his Peaceful Corner and wait until he is calm. If it is sitting nicely, bring the baby to him and lower the baby carrier just enough so that your dog can nuzzle the toes – not the face. Keep the first meeting quick to ensure it is not overwhelming for anyone involved.
It is SO IMPORTANT to always keep that in mind Your dog is an animal and may behave unexpectedly at any time. No dog — no matter how well behaved — should be left unattended with a child or child under any circumstances.
Now just enjoy this time and stay in the moment. That baby will grow up so fast!
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