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Babies and Dogs – the first few months

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Baby Theo has arrived!!

Little baby Theo has arrived and with it a whole lot of changes. I may not be a baby expert but I can certainly use my experience with dogs to help Pixel, Rocket and Theo grow calm happy relationships.
Here is how we have been getting on in the first couple of months. Remember to prepare your dogs before your baby arrives, you can see some tips here.

Safety First

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Before Theo came back from the hospital we made sure our dogs were secured behind a gate or in their crate which we had already grown as their safe space. This allowed us to get Theo settled while Pixel and Rocket could smell and hear him without coming right up to him. There is no need to do introductions, they will know he is there.
We also have safe ‘dog free zones’ for Theo, we have a fenced off play and sleeping area and a baby gate on the nursery where we feed and change him. This also helps avoid the dogs picking up all of Theo’s toys!
The first cry 
Even though you try to prepare your dogs, there is nothing like the real thing and you just don’t know how they will react. When Theo cried for the first time at home, it was quite a shock for Pixel and Rocket, Pixel started howling! This eased off as the days went by and they all acclimatised to each other.

They are also never left unsupervised with baby Theo, not even to get a class of water. This is where baby gates come in really handy!

Ditching the routine

Luckily we already ditched any routine a long time ago so Pixel and Rocket are very adaptable. Having a newborn baby is incredibly hard and even when we didn’t have the time or energy to walk the dogs, they were more than happy to have a rest day here and there, or a little play in the garden instead. Here is how we ditch the routine:
  • We make sure they have some form of physical activity, this doesn’t have to be high energy, it could be a bit of search and find food or toy.
  • We weigh out their daily food allowance so we can use it to reward good choices and make positive pairings.
  • Sometimes they are behind a baby gate, or in a puppy pen or cued to stay on their bed. They will not always have free access of the house as I will need my hands free for feeding or changing Theo!
  • Growing calmness is key so we prepare frozen kongs and long lasting safe chews for them to have in their crate or pen.
  • Building confidence alone as there are plenty of emergency trips to the doctors and hospital we didn’t plan for!
  • Think about easy wins and short little training sessions. While you boil the kettle, have a little play with your dog!
Have a go at the Sexier Than A Squirrel Challange for some fantastic short training games!!

Getting the dogs involved

We want to make sure Pixel and Rocket don’t feel left out so we get them to help out!

Pixel is small enough to help push Theo’s bouncy chair. It is great because it’s not too high energy and she doesn’t need to interact with Theo. We had fun with this one!

Family time, here we are all together and getting them used to Theo being on the floor and teaching them he is none of their business.

It is about getting the right balance and level of involvement without being too full on and over excited which has been Rocket’s struggle in the past. If you have an overly bouncy or boisterous dog then have a baby pen around your baby’s play area.

Expect lots of visitors

As soon as Theo was home and before he even had a name we had visitors almost every week. This was a challenge for Rocket as he loves to give big over excited cuddles and not everyone likes this. He is also not used to having people around because we were shielding during pregnancy.

We had to use the crate with a chew to calm him as people arrived, then out on his bed, rewarding good choices. We also advised people not to fuss him if he jumped up as we didn’t want this rewarded.

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Cuddle time

Building calm relationships is so important and where appropriate we had Pixel sleeping nearby. At the moment Theo doesn’t grab ears or tails but this is something we will need to make sure we protect the dogs from. When Theo is older we won’t have him cuddling the dogs as most dogs find this worrying and could result in a bite. But even with management in place Theo may still get his hands on the dogs so we work on positive  handling skills for the dogs so they are not worried should they accidentally get grabbed.

If you need extra support and guidance on how to get your dog ready for a baby then book in some 121 training with me.



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