most important thing i should do to prepare my dog for my baby

Welcome to episode 2 of the Good Dog Happy Baby Podcast. In this episode, we explore the question of what you need to do before anything else when prepping your pup for baby’s arrival.

Morgan: Mike, what is the most important thing I can do as I prepare my dog for my baby?

Mike: Well, I think the single most important thing anybody can do is the minute that they find out that they’re pregnant and start making the appropriate plans for the big transition that’s coming into their life is to start to think about the impact on your dog in terms of his daily routine and how his life in general is going to change because you’ve got a baby.

Start Making Changes Now

In other words, think about all the changes you’re going to have to make in your dog’s life the day after that baby shows up and start implementing those changes now to the degree that they mean a change in the dog’s life that the dog might not be thrilled about, like maybe less walks at the park, not being able to sleep in bed with the owners anymore, or not having access to certain rooms, etc.

Whatever changes in the dog’s life that are going to happen that the dog might not be thrilled about because the baby is arriving, make sure you implement those changes as far as possible before the baby arrives so the dog has no way to connect the changes with the arrival of the baby which can trigger a jealous dynamics.

Now, a lot of people think, “he’s going to be fine, he’s going to be fine.” I strongly encourage you not to make that assumption. I mean maybe you’re right but what’s the harm in taking technical steps to prepare and think this through because I can tell you from a lot of personal experience that a lot of dogs suddenly don’t take well to it and we miss a lot of opportunities at that point.

Don’t Underestimate Your Dog’s Sensitivity

Morgan: Is it your basic sense that people just think, “my dog is going to be fine” and they’re underestimating the psychology and intelligence and the kind of emotional world of the dog? Can you speak to that? Now obviously you’ve seen this enough to say that dogs are super sensitive to this and you can’t take it for granted. But can you just speak to that a little bit?

Mike: Well, I think a lot of people just make the wrong assumptions that it’s all going to be fine. Again, maybe it will be, maybe it won’t be but the assumption, everyday that you’re just assuming that and not taking steps is a day lost in helping to prepare your dog for the arrival of your child.

And yes I do think that people underestimate the emotional nature of their dog in this department. I mean it’s kind of funny because they’ll grant their dogs all kinds of emotional capacities in other things but there’s such a hold over still I think from behaviorism a school of psychology that had a huge influence, and still does, on the the study of animal behavior in the whole twentieth century and a lot of the notions we have about our animals to kind of dumb them down, comes from that particular view point.

So people will tell me things like maybe the dog pooped on the carpet 20 minutes ago and then they’ll say, “well, he doesn’t remember that.” Right? And I’m like, “of course he remembers that. He just can’t understand why you’re upset about it now 20 minutes later.” They can’t make the connection between why you’re upset now about the fact that they pooped 20 minutes ago on your carpet but the idea that they don’t remember they did that is just ridiculous.

Dogs Are A Lot Like Small Children

So, the reason I’m bringing stuff like that up is people dumb down their dogs, it’s because we’ve been kind of conditioned to think oh they’re just this stimulus response machine. They can’t really think, they don’t have any kind of deeper reasoning or abilities, so, the idea that the dog’s going to get jealous because there’s a baby in the house is anthropomorphizing or something like that.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Dogs have a depth and breath of intelligence and emotional sensitivity that compares to humans to be honest. Now obviously there’s big differences between us, but the differences are more cognitive than they are emotional and we’re equipped very similarly and dogs are an awful lot like young children.

So for instance anybody who’s got a young child and they’re having a second baby knows that there’s a big issue that you’ve got a three year old and suddenly got to deal with the fact that they’re going to have a little brother or sister. There’s all kinds of sibling jealousy issues that come up. But somehow they just assume that such a thing couldn’t happen with a dog but guess what? It sure can.

A Key Exercise To Ensure Success

Morgan: So looping back to the question, what’s the single most important thing I can do to start to prepare my dog. You’re encouraging everyone to think in advance about how this is going to influence the dog’s life and start making the changes now that the dog is going to experience when the baby arrives. If we distill it, that’s it right?

Mike: Yeah, that’s basically it. Now you can break that down a little further. If you just found out you’re pregnant, you’ve got 8 months to go before your approximate delivery but you don’t have to rush this too much. But I’d say certainly within no less than 6 weeks before you give birth, you really want to start implementing changes. So I encourage people just to go through this exercise.

What’s your day going to look like once you have your baby? Let’s say you’re on maternity leave so you’re not going to work, you’re going to be sleep deprived, you’re going to be up every couple of hours at night. What’s going to be the impact on the dog’s daily routine? Get clear about that and then make those arrangements now.

Hire A Dog Walker?

In terms of the dog’s daily routine, maybe we’re going to hire a dog walker because we realized it’s just all too much and we need the dog out of the house etc. Then start having that dog walker come 3 or 4 weeks before. You just want to make the routine that the dog is likely to experience once the baby is there significantly in advance.

Because you want to create a situation so that when the baby shows up it’s little more than a hiccup to the dog’s routine. Things like not sleeping on the bed with you anymore or having to be crated, etc. All those things have already been slipped into place weeks and weeks before. So when the baby shows up it’s just like, “Oh! Okay. There’s a new little thing here,” instead of this catastrophic interruption of the life I used to know.

The Many Benefits Of Early Preparation

Morgan: Talk to me a little bit about the ratio of success stories to failures here. Last year as you mentioned in the last episode you had to rehome 6 dogs because people really failed to do any of this sort of forethought and preparation. Then they got into the situation where the dog and the baby were in the house together and it was a mess and these people ended up rehoming their dogs.

Tell me a little bit about that and share with everyone an example or two of people who have done this well, who’ve done exactly what you’re talking about.

Mike: There are many variables influencing this and the other thing about it is you start implementing those changes now and you discover that the dogs might have issues with separation anxiety or whatever. You can start dealing with all those issues now. So in other words you get a look at potential problems earlier on and then you can deal with them, so that’s one thing.

The majority of people if they do this kind of pre-planning will get through the whole process pretty smoothly. The thing is there’s a lot of people out there who have dogs with emotional issues and certain behavioral issues that they might have been willing to live with until now.

But once they start to think about this thing the way we’re talking about, they start to realize “oh my God!” right. So this dog has got this, that, and the other issue, and I know he’s not going to take too well to this change.

The good news there is if he’s been thinking about those 8 months in advance, he’s got time to get help for whatever it is.

And if your dog is a piece of cake and just lovely then the whole thing will be easy and you’ll implement the changes and it’ll be pretty smooth and no problem, but there’s like really no good reason not to do this and every reason to do it because it’s going to simplify and smooth out the process and make everything very manageable and in those cases where the dogs really do have kind of issues they’re dealing with, those issues will be revealed early on and then people will have 6, 7, 8 months to deal with it which is quite a hunk of time.

Success Equals 10 Minutes & A Bullet List

Morgan: So what I heard you say is that you have nothing to lose and you have everything to gain from doing this kind of forethought and fore-implementation of some of the changes that are going to happen in the dog’s life anyways when the baby arrives.

Mike: I just want to say one other thing as well. I’m often astonished. I tell people stuff like this and they say “oh gosh, that’s so much to think about.” But it’s a little astonishing to me because when people find out they’re pregnant, they’re going to have a baby, they think about a million other things and they prepare very thoroughly.

They baby-proof the house. They get people to come in like consultants who all they do is for $300 an hour is go to people’s homes and help them prepare a hundred different things and routines from nursing, to where the nursery is going to be, the different kinds of breast pumps and this and that and the other thing.

And yet they act overwhelmed when it comes to thinking through the routine for the dog which to me is just not a big deal. It takes 10 minutes to think through the thing and make a bullet list of things that might have to change and start putting them into the routine of all the changes that you have to prepare for. It’s just not that big a deal, it’s just the consequences can be a huge deal when we don’t.

In the next post we’re going to address the question: what are some of the warning signs to let me know that I should be concerned?

Listen to the next episode: Will My Dog Bite My Baby? The Warning Signs You Need To Know

> Listen to the previous episode: Why Is It Important To Prepare My Dog For My Baby?



Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software