December is fast approaching and we are in full on preparation mode for the arrival of our baby boy. So excited to meet him! Within all the excitement, we have a little bulldog who needs to get ready for him as well. One of the things that we want to make sure we do is prepare Batman for the new addition to the family. He is going to need to be able to understand and cope with the fact that he will no longer be the sole keeper of our attention. We have come to realize that everyone knows the baby is coming. That is, everyone except Batman. In preparation for the new one, we’ve teamed up with PetYen to get us prepared for the little one this winter!
PetYen is a NYC based company that connects you with the best pet providers in the area. They’re an online platform that provides you an easy way to get you in touch with independent providers and specialists; from groomers to trainers to speciality food makers, who are passionate about pet care. All the products and services you and your furry friend could dream of are now right at your fingertips. You get to choose when, where, and how you want them (and the providers deliver!). Check out PetYen’s awesome intro video here and be sure to follow along on Instagram!
They introduced us to our new dog trainer, Robert Haussmann owner of Dogboy. Matt, Batman, and I headed up to Central Park to meet Robert for our initial training session. He shared with us a lot of what to expect and tips on how to get Batman ready for his baby brother. It was a great experience and Robert was able to answer all of our questions around Batman’s preparation. I shared some of Robert’s knowledge below. It’s great, practical advice for anyone who is expecting with a dog at home. Batman did so great! #thebulldogisready
What are a few tips on how to prepare your dog for a baby in your home?
1. Preparing for schedule changes
You’re going to want to prepare him for changes in the schedule, your attention, and changes in house rules and privileges way before the baby comes. This will make the transition easier on all involved parties.
2. Brushing up on basic obedient skills
Basic commands like “drop it“, “leave it“, “off“, and “stay” will prove invaluable. Unfortunately, most baby toys are indistinguishable from dog toys. You will want to use the “drop it” and “leave it” command to clarify what toys and objects are his and what toys and objects are not. This should happen months and weeks before the baby actually arrives. You may also want to consider teaching “give us some space”. This can come in handy in all kinds of situations. Especially when there are playing babies and toddlers around on the floor at his eye level. If he knows the rules there will be much less stress in your house.
3. Exposing your dog to new novelties
Babies come with lots of novel stimuli. Besides the baby itself, there are all kinds of sounds, smells, objects, foods and out of the ordinary parental behavior for a dog to contend with. Add extra visitors and fewer walks to the equation and it can really stress a dog out. Exposing him to some of these novelties will be helpful. Giving him a blueprint for how to act in new and challenging situations is critical. It is more important to tell your dog what you want him to do, than it is to tell him what you don’t want him to do. It would be a good idea to figure this out now and teach him before you are up to your sleep deprived eye lids in diapers yelling “no jumping!”.
Start implementing these changes before the bundle of joy arrives. It is best to get him used to these changes now. Dogs are creatures of habit and love to have a schedule. Changes can stress them out, especially when they are cumulative.
How and when should we introduce our dog to the baby?
Before the baby arrives
There are a few different steps here. First, just like everything else, preparation is key. You may want to use a doll and carry it around showing it occasionally to your dog while you have him sit. This gives you the opportunity to stay calm and do some practice runs before the baby arrives and get him used to the scene. You can even play sounds of a crying baby from YouTube on your phone.
When the baby arrives
First have a parent and any guests enter without the baby to give their undivided attention to your dog. He will not have seen you for a few days and will likely be very excited. Once he’s finished with his greeting ritual, put him on his leash and grab a few of his favorite treats.
When the other parent comes in with the baby, praise your dog and offer some rewards. Use the leash to control jumping or general over enthusiasm towards the baby. It is really important that all humans stay very relaxed and calm during this time. If you are nervous or jittery he will pick up on it and sense that something is off. It is not necessary for your dog to make contact with the baby right away.
The meet and greet should be relatively engineered. Wait until everything is calm and quiet, perhaps while the baby is sleeping or otherwise calm. I would once again have him on a leash. A parent can sit down with the baby while the other approaches calmly with your dog, offering small treats. Again, everyone should stay calm. If the dog is mellow and is showing soft friendly body language, he may approach to sniff the babies feet for a few seconds. Whoever is handling Batman should then distract him with treats and have him do a “sit” or “down” then reward him. If all has gone smoothly, repeat the process a few times.
I’ve heard bringing home a blanket with the baby’s smell is important to introduce the baby’s scent to your dog. Any thoughts or other recommendations on this idea?
Absolutely. Sense of smell is of paramount importance to a dog. It is said they can detect a teaspoon of sugar dissolved in an Olympic swimming pool. Crazy stuff right? Bringing home the baby’s swaddle or blanket is a good idea. Be sure to pair the presence of the blanket with a positive experience. A few treats, a game of fetch, A cuddle session, whatever it is you know makes him happy.
What are your recommendations on teaching your dog boundaries when around the baby?
It is important to think practically about your life with your dog as it is now and how it may change once the baby comes. If your dog is sleeping on your bed and you plan to co-sleep with the baby, getting your dog comfortable sleeping on a dog bed on the floor or in his crate a few months prior to your due date is good idea. You should start getting in the habit now of having him sit and stay outside the bedroom and nursery door until invited in. Teaching him the “go to your place” cue is also helpful in this scenario. If you’re like me, you will want him to be involved in the experience. Having him stay at the door, then come into the room when you give the “OK”, then go to his place/dog bed beside the rocking chair while you nurse, is a very safe, structured and appropriate way for him to be involved while keeping the peace in your home.
Batman’s gear courtesy of PS9 Pet Supplies-Brooklyn