How to Balance Taking Care of Your Newborn and Dog Responsibly
For dog owners who don’t have kids, it’s easy to shower your pooch with attention. Their sweet, happy little faces and wiggly tails demand a belly rub that’s easy to provide. The extra money means more visits to the dog groomer, fancy dog treats, and personalized dishes. Extra time means more walks, frisbee tosses, and time at the dog park. However, everything can change once you have a newborn.
Suddenly, all that extra patience, time, and money aren’t as abundant. It starts to feel overwhelming taking care of your fuzzy baby and your human one. You may become worried about your dog’s reaction to your little one, stressed by the mess they make, and frustrated by their neediness.
That feeling is common among dog owners with new babies. Fortunately, there are ways to balance both your pup and your newborn responsibly.
Prepare Your Dog
Parenting your new baby and your pup will be easier if you prepare your dog for what to expect. This way you won’t be as stressed about how your dog will react. Use a pregnancy calculator to track your pregnancy, and use each month to help socialize your pup with babies, kids, and pregnancy. This way, by the time the baby arrives, your pup will have an idea of what to expect.
One month, allow them to meet a baby. Maybe in another month, have them listen to baby crying sounds. You might allow them to smell baby products like lotion and powder. Not all dogs can sense that you’re pregnant or what that will mean, so help them by preparing them.
The AKC recommends that you try some additional training before the baby comes as well. For instance, if your dog doesn’t already know the “go to place” command, referring to a bed or mat, etc., this can help if they are becoming overwhelming when the baby arrives.
You know your dog, so be prepared for the things your dog does that may be a source of stress for you. For instance, if your dog barks at someone ringing the doorbell, you might consider hanging a sign on your door that tells visitors to text instead of knocking, and for packages to be left without a courtesy knock so they don’t wake the baby.
If your dog is anxious about new things, prepare to be patient with your pooch around the new addition. If they tend to track in dirt, prepare for extra cleaning. Your dog might get in the baby’s face, lick them, or eat their toys, so be prepared for these occurrences. Your dog might be a bit of a disturbance, but just prepare for how to handle it.
Rely on Your Support System
Whether your support system will be your partner, family, or friends, rely on them for help with both the dog and the baby so that neither one goes without during your transitionary period.
Rest assured that your routine will develop in time, which will help you to have balanced care for both your dog and your baby, but until then, you may need help.
Get help picking up dog messes, taking the dog to play, and bathing them. Ask someone to watch the baby for a minute while you throw the ball for your pup. You don’t have to do it all on your own. Balance sometimes requires help.
When giving birth, you might ask someone in your support system to care for the dog for a few days so that you can focus on your recovery and learning how to care for your baby before the introduction happens. This can help make your first few days a little less stressful for everyone.
Teach Your Baby
Balance is about helping your dog learn how to be safe and respectful around the baby, but also teaching your baby how to be safe and respectful about the dog.
Once your baby is old enough to learn, keep an eye on them so they know not to pull their tail or climb on them. Treat your dog with respect so your baby learns how you treat an animal as well.
A newborn obviously can’t grasp these concepts, but as they grow, this will help you to have balance and keep both your pup and your child safe.
Overall, it will be beneficial for your little one to grow up with a puppy companion. Dogs are beneficial to our health because they encourage us to move more and can boost our mental health.
Your child growing up with a dog will help them to be more aware of how to treat animals, how to be gentle, and to feel comfortable around them.
Get One-on-One Time
Getting one-on-one time with both your dog and your baby will help you to bond with both of them while also having time apart. You’ll have a lot of alone time with your baby, but having it without the dog around can be a great way to avoid frustration with your pup.
Ask your support system to take the dog for a bit so you can enjoy some time with your baby without your dog waking them up or being jealous.
The same goes for the dog. Take the dog on a walk just two of you. This will be great to help your dog realize they are still important while also giving them exercise.
Not only that, but exercise is important for you, too. Not only will it help with your mood, but also with things like varicose veins related to pregnancy, weight loss, and recovery. Take some time to cuddle them and make them feel loved one-on-one, as well.
Take Care of Yourself
The best thing you can do to balance care for your dog and your newborn is to take care of yourself first. If you’re not healthy, you can’t be there to care for your family.
Though most pregnancies and births happen without incident, some preexisting conditions can cause complications, and some births cause medical concern, so be mindful of your physical health. Be aware of possible mental health concerns such as postpartum depression. Know the signs to look out for and how to get help.
Ask for help if you need it, get plenty of sleep (easier said than done a lot of the time), and give yourself some grace. Allow yourself some alone time and self-care. This period is hard, but your dog and your baby will be okay, just take care of yourself as well.
Balance is all about practice. As time goes by, you’ll get better at helping your dog through this period of time where they are realizing there is another little family member taking their parent’s time.
Dogs are resilient and adaptable creatures who will accept their new normal in no time. Just be sure you’re still giving them all of the love and attention you can. Being frustrated and overwhelmed is normal, but remember to be prepared and lean on your support system for help.
When your child and your dog are the best of friends, you’ll have almost forget how difficult it was to balance both of them at first. Almost.