Because people are choosing to have children later in life, their dogs are really their first baby. Dogs today are real family members. They are no longer “owned” but rather “parented” by people. Because of this trend there is more demand for prenatal dog prep. It is becoming more popular for expectant couples with dogs to seek professional help of a trainer/behaviorist, such as C&C PALS, in getting their dog comfortable having a baby around and getting the couple use to viewing their dog differently. Often couples need help to learn that their dog is a wonderful canine, but not a person. They need to lean how to, in a totally positive way, put appropriate limits on their dog’s behavior and help their dog learn some basic household rules, plus get their dog use to having the new addition around.
Trainer/behaviorists are helping by giving couples advise on how to acclimate their dog to the new arrival on everything from walking through the house with a stroller and fake baby; playing a CD of annoying baby cries; tugging at the dog’s ears and tail the way a toddler might; to reminding Dad to bring home the baby’s T-shirt and cap from the hospital so the dog can sniff it. This is all combined with hours of obedience training for the couple and dog to teach the dog such things as: walking nicely on leash with Mom pushing a stroller; teaching the dog to drop items from his mouth; and getting the dog use to people around his food bowl and toys.
Couples are also taught to deal with a problem that often arises when the baby first arrives. Fido might not now get as much attention. Parents are taught that when the baby comes home their dog should have a “positive association” with the baby. This is accomplished by: when the baby is awake someone should interact with the dog (the association being: when the baby is awake and around, Fido gets attention, affection, food, play, etc.). Then when the baby is asleep the dog should not be fussed over (the association being: when the baby is asleep and away, the attention, food, play, etc. goes away). It is a common mistake for couples who feel guilty that they are now not spending enough time with their dog to compensate by spending a lot of time with the dog when the baby is asleep since they ignore the dog when the baby is awake because they are so busy with the new arrival. This leads to the incorrect assessment that “the dog is now jealous of the baby”. In actual fact, the dog has been taught this inappropriate association by the couple! Couples need to give their dog attention and exercise but it is important that the dog also makes the correct associations. If the dog gets the wrong association and gets less attention and exercise this often leads to barking, biting, house soiling and other behavioral issues.
Article compliments of C&C PALS Dog Training www.positiveK9training.com