Dog Training 101: Social Instability is Bad News for Dogs

One of the best thing I’ve discovered over the years to help prepare your dog for a baby is to make sure she understands her social status in your home. As I’ve come to learn, this is dog training 101.

The reason this is key is because any changes to your social structure, especially the addition of a new child, throw the status quo into question and can encourage your dog to re-evaluate her existing relationships. Of course, that’s the last thing you need when bringing your new baby home.

Instead, you want your home to provide a social context in which your dog looks to you for structure, guidance and authority. That’s especially true when it comes to things she might find novel or confusing. And the sudden arrival of a new baby can definitely fall into that category.

The Doggie Twelve Step Program

The good news is that there are some straightforward steps that will help you accomplish this relatively easily. In my book, Good Dog, Happy Baby, I outline my “Doggie Twelve Step Program” which, though I didn’t invent it, I’ve been refining for over 20 years.

In the Doggie Twelve Step Program I offer a dozen ways in which you can teach your dog to exercise impulse control and check in with you, especially in challenging situations.

These steps not only teach your dog to control themselves and look to you for guidance, they also convey critical skills that will make managing her after baby’s arrival relatively seamless.

Why You Need to Manage Disruption

Over the years I have found over and over again that implementing a consistent set of rules that cover the entirety of your dog’s life with you will provide her with a general sense of ease and confidence.

And that’s key in smoothing the way for dealing with the disruption of routine that the arrival of your little love-bomb from the cosmos is certain to bring.

Of course you could – and many have tried – just choose to give it a go with your dog as is. And with luck maybe it can work. But believe me, failure to provide this kind of structure for your dog often has disastrous consequences.

I have seen this so many times and the result is always heartbreak.

Think about it. Things you might have grudgingly put up with when it was just you and doggie can quickly mushroom into a major headache and even become impossible to live with given the million little demands and constraints an infant is certain to make on you.

Doggie is not Stupid

Consider this. While you might have been willing to put up with your dog’s antics, such as dashing out the front door at the first crack of light, when it was just the two of you, with a baby in a sling or stroller getting out the door now can become an ordeal.

Or how about this: you might have been willing to put up with your dog’s endless leash pulling on your solo walks together but with baby in tow, well, maybe not. The result? Doggie stays home while you are out with baby.

And doggie is not stupid. Keep it up like this and it won’t take her long to conclude that your baby is an interloper who has cost her all sorts of fun with you. And that can set up just the kind of jealous dynamic between your child and your dog that the “Doggie Twelve Step Program” is designed to prevent.

So I’ll say it again: creating a well structured social framework in which your dog is tuned in to you for guidance and leadership is essential for successfully managing the integration of a new child into your lives.

Want to learn more about preparing your dog for the arrival of your baby? Check out my book: Good Dog, Happy Baby




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