Abuja - If you’re pregnant, and the loving owner of a furbaby, there are many ways you can prepare your pet dog for the new arrival. Your dog will be faced with lots of changes: Rooms may be closed off to him, and his sensitive nose will be assaulted with all sorts of new smells. To limit the stress your pup will experience, why not try out some of these tips:
• If you turn a room of the house into a nursery, you’ll need to train your dog not to enter that space. This takes time, but it’s only fair to make the effort, as he’ll be losing some of his territory.
• In fact, training your dog can only help- If your dog responds to basic commands such as “Sit” and “Stay”, it will be easier for you to cope if your hands are full while feeding or changing your baby.
• The general agreement is that most dogs are loyal family pets, and unlikely to turn on infants, but do take a look at the spaces your baby and your dog will share in the house. A boisterous, playful dog may not mean any harm, but could accidentally harm a newborn. He may have to be kept out of parts of the house. Consider installing gates in doorways to certain rooms to limit his access.
• Use baby products in the house before baby’s arrival, such as baby shampoo or talc, and get your dog used to the smells. A CD of baby sounds such as crying or laughing could help your dog to adjust to some sensory changes.
• When shopping for a stroller, consider getting one which will make it possible for you to take your dog along for a walk, too. Some strollers have attachment points for leashes.
• A visit to the vet and grooming parlour will help get your pup ready- clean, with clipped nails and parasite-free.
• If you are completely changing your dog’s living arrangement, give him time to adjust. A small change could be moving a food bowl to a place where it will be out of reach of baby, while a large change would be introducing your dog to an outside kennel. Training (and treats) will go a long way to helping him adapt.
• Invite friends around who already have babies, so he can get used to the way they sound and smell. Make sure that your friends won’t mind, and that the baby will be safe.
• After the arrival of the newborn, take a blanket home from hospital for your dog to smell, before you introduce the two.
• Do remember to spend lots of time with your furbaby after the birth, too, after all- he didn’t ask to be an “uncle”!
• When your child gets older, do teach him how to handle your pet. Some dogs become defensive if teased or hurt, and your child will need to learn how to play with your pup in ways which both will enjoy.
There are occasional stories of bites (or worse), but your baby and furbaby will most likely become firm friends, and have a special relationship which your child will remember for the rest of his life.
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