Preparing Your Home’s Physical Environment for the Introduction of Baby Part 1 of 3 - This is going to be a three-part series posted over three days. Stay tuned!
It is a huge change in your dog’s life and environment when your brand new little baby comes through the door. There is a sudden barrage of new sounds, smells, and movements. Pair that with a drop in the amount of attention your pup will receive from you and it can be an extremely confusing time for your dog. There really is no way to avoid those changes happening suddenly and unexpectedly, but you can make it easier on your dog by preparing your home as much as possible in advance. Our two dogs are very different. One of them needed a lot of work on these environmental changes, while we could skip many of these preparations for the other. Work with your dog and a trainer to figure out what you need to do for your family. These are just general "good ideas".
When I think about the environment in terms of how your dog interacts with it, I break it down into sensory categories rather than rooms. Regardless of where you decide to put the baby’s furniture, try to make sure you prepare your dog for the new sounds, smells, and sights in their environment.
- Baby cries
- A baby’s cry can be anything from a grumble to an ear-splitting wail. It can hurt our ears to listen to it, and we know it means we need to pay attention to our baby and fix what’s wrong. To a dog (I assume), it’s a very loud, uncomfortable, meaningless noise. Some dogs couldn’t care less about loud sounds, but some are extremely sensitive. Before you bring your baby home, look up a video of a crying newborn on YouTube and play it for your dog. Be sure to start at low volumes, pair it with treats, and increase the volume gradually. You want to get your dog used to the sound, not scare them!
- Baby swing clicking/swinging
- As a mom, I can tell you that we LOVE our baby swing. Our baby naps very well in it, so it runs a lot throughout the day (and sometimes into the night). The swing makes clicking and swishing noises as it rocks back and forth. It also has the option to play music or white noise. My dogs never cared about those sounds, but it is possible that your dog will. To find out, run the swing a few times before the baby is born and make sure your dog doesn’t mind the noise. Just like with the baby cries, be sure to build up to the full experience. Start with your dog in the next room and either let them move closer or move them closer gradually with treats if they don’t seem to mind the sounds.
- Music/white noise machines
- Whether it’s the noises on the swing, the Sleep Sheep in the crib, or (in desperation) the iPhone in the stroller, people play lots of white noise and music to their babies. Make sure your dog isn’t bothered by these sounds, just like with the noises above.
Tomorrow: New Smells.