RSVP Magazine

Is Your Dog Expecting Your Baby? Dog Expert Nanci Creedon Tells Us How To Avoid Neglecting Our Four-Legged Friends Once A Baby Arrives

Nanci Creedon is a Cork based dog trainer whois currently the only certified behaviour consultant in the Republic of Ireland. Nanci  has been assessed and approved as a dog behaviour consultant by the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants, and she has also assessed and approved by the Association of Animal Behaviour Professionals. 

Although you may not realise it, it can be a very difficult situation for your family dog when a new baby arrives into the family. More often than not, your dog can feel left out, left behind and feel incredibly neglected when it dawns on them that they’re not the only bundle of joy in your life anymore. 

Nanci has shared her top tips on how to keep your furry friend feeling included and loved while you care for your newborn baby at the same time. 

Nanci has just released a new DVD, Is Your Dog Expecting Your Baby’ and you can buy it here.

How would you advise somebody to prepare their dog who is expecting a new baby?

Its vital to prepare the dog for the sights, smell and sound of the dog as a new baby is NOT a family member to your dog, it looks and sounds like a big pink squeaky toy!

I would advise getting their dog used to the new baby by introducing a doll – embarrassing, yes, but essential – carry the dog like you would a baby. Change the doll like you would a baby. Comfort the doll like you would a baby. Next, introduce the audio of babies crying, low volume at first, then gradually louder provided your dog is aware, but isn’t caring about the sound.

Finally, when baby arrives have dad or a helper bring back the first few nappies, wrapped up in a bag, and let your dog become familiar with the smell before baby comes home. The smell of dirty nappies may be revolting to us, but to dogs it’s a jackpot of scents, so let them stiff, but not touch, the nappy until they lose interest then destroy.

At all times your dog should be aware of the ‘baby’ items, but not care about the baby items. Keep the phrase ‘aware but don’t care’ at the front of your mind.

Do you feel that dogs are often neglected when a new arrival comes into the family? 

A new baby is one of the most common reasons for dogs to enter the pound, which is a sad reality. While many owners are 100% committed to their dogs, and raise their dogs and children happily together, there are others who become overwhelmed by the level of commitment. There is help out there, and if the quality of the dogs life has been severely reduced then exploring the option of re-homing the dog should be considered sooner rather than later. This should be a last resort but keeping a dog in a neglected state is not the right option.

Is it possible to neglect your dog without even knowing it?

Generally owners know when their dog is happy. If the dog is still getting access to comfortable bedding, shelter, quality time with their owners (this can be in the evening and while baby is napping) and a few interesting walks a week your dog will be very happy.

Out of sight – out of mind is not a resolution, and confining your dog to a harden or area without company and stimulation for more than 4 hours at a time without company could be considered neglectful.

How can an owner make their dog still feel included and loved as well as the baby?

The dog should always remain part of your family. They can join family time using an internal tether (an old leash they don’t associate with walking) to keep everyone safe. One family member can be on one chair with baby, while the other family member is in another area holding on to the tether – or with the tether fastened to a secure bolt – so both baby and dog can share the calm family time without any unnecessary risk.

What is the outcome for the dog if a couple decides they want to send them to a shelter because they don’t have time to care for them anymore?

In Ireland 40 dogs are put to sleep each week. It is a fact that we have far less homes for dogs than the number of dogs in the country. Some dogs are easier to home than others, but there are noguarantees.

A safer option is to contact your local animal rescue centre who can try to find a home for your dog with a suitable family. They may ask you to hold on to your dog until they find you a home, and this would be the most recommended option if you decide that re-homing is the only option.

Can you share any advice for someone who is finding it difficult to care for both their dog and their baby at the same time?

Having a new baby is a wonderful time in your life, but for many, it is also an overwhelming time.

Take full advantage of family and friends who want to help by asking them to walk your dog, play with your dog, and give them much needed quality time.

Contact your local Association of Pet Dog Trainers member who can visit you and provide you with a custom made plan to keep your dog happy and safe during the transitional period, and please, please, please, prepare early! You have 9 months to get your head around the impending arrival, your dog should too!

Check Out Nanci’s Website About All Things Dogs, Here. 


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