Hey everyone! Malaika here from Dog Gone Amazing! If you haven’t heard the news, I had my baby in November and I have to say, while I had a super easy pregnancy, there was a lot of planning I had to do to prepare for an easier transition once the baby came. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I had to start planning. But the great thing about being pregnant is you have nine months to plan — plan your business, plan your delivery, plan your babysitting, plan going back to work and plan maternity leave. As a dog lover, it was also very important that I planned for my dogs’ life with the baby, too.
Are you expecting a baby or planning to have one soon? I learned first-hand that pregnancy is the perfect time to start dialing in your obedience with your dogs. Here are the 3 best pieces of advice I can give you for preparing your dog for baby, and the exciting new changes ahead.
- Be Flexible. Once the baby comes your daily routine will look a lot different, and your dogs will have to adjust just like you will. Prepare your dogs for all the change coming your way. So far, my baby isn’t awake till 8-9am. But then there’s feeding, changing, feeding myself, showering, laundry, cleaning and on and on. To put it bluntly, there’s not much, if any, time to take your dogs on their usual hikes and outings. In the last month before baby comes, cut back on daycare and hiking and ask friends to help walk them, or take your dogs to daycare. Consider hiring a dog walker. Even though I was able to hike to the end of my pregnancy, each day I could do less and less, and that didn’t give my dogs adequate exercise. A dog walker can fill in those gaps for you.
- Prepare For Change, And Lots Of It. Your body will change dramatically in 40 weeks, so it helps to think about things you won’t be able to do at the tail-end of your pregnancy and after baby comes. Most likely you’ll be carrying a car seat or pushing a stroller, so be aware of how driving or walking with your dogs might change. Do you walk 5 dogs on leash? Do you lift your dogs in and out of the car? I did! And I have 4 dogs between 40-75 pounds so I taught them to use a ramp. I started teaching them on the ramp when I was 6 weeks pregnant so by 40 weeks, it was super easy for them. No more lifting and they weren’t jumping in or out of my huge truck. This would also be the time to handle and on-leash issues with your dog … and I know a great trainer who can help with that! Watch this video:
3. Practice. The second you know you are having a baby, start training! Again, I know a great trainer. But if you have great dogs and don’t need training, make sure your dogs respond to these words:
- Down: make sure this is solid! Make sure your dog will down anywhere. Make your dog lie down in the kitchen, the bathroom, the front yard, at a park, while you’re walking… everywhere. The dog must also stay! So that down means lie down and do not move until told.
- Heel: make sure you have a perfect heel. That means your dog walks on one side of you at your side. I define it as the dogs collar is in line with your leg…. in fact the seam of your pants. Make sure you have a very nice heel before your 9 months pregnant or pushing a stroller or carrying your precious bundle of joy.
That should get you started on preparing yourself and your pack for the wacky, unpredictable, sleepless and wild adjustment to having an infant. It’s a ride! And having well behaved dogs makes it so so much easier.
Look for our next blog where we will discuss what to do when you are home with a new baby and your pack.