For The Love Of All Our Pets


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Before baby’s arrival

Bringing a baby into the home can be especially challenging when you have a pet. Once the object of your affection, a dog can be deeply unsettled by the arrival of a new-born who represents competition for your affections.

Preparation is key. Here are some useful suggestions:

Start making changes in your dog’s routine at least 4-6 months before the baby is due to arrive.

Change your routine – this means everything from the time of walks to feeding times.

Try scatter feeding outside in the garden. Your dog should not see their bowl as the only food source. This helps prevent your dog from getting defensive if your baby goes near its food bowl.

Stop hand feeding your dog otherwise your dog may try to take food from your baby’s hand.

Stop any excessive jumping well before the baby arrives.

Think about stopping any excessive barking. You will want your baby to sleep and not be wakened by your dog barking at every visitor!

Stop your dog pulling on the lead… remember you are going to have to walk your dog AND a pram.

Boundaries to set:

Ignore your dog at times and particularly – don’t respond to their attention-seeking behaviours. They definitely won’t have your attention when you have a baby to look after!
Praise and make a fuss of your dog when he/she isn’t making a noise or demanding anything.
Always instigate play on your terms – if your dog wants to play then don’t indulge him/her.
Set boundaries – places like sofas and beds should be off limits to your dog. You probably won’t want them jumping around places where your baby might be.
Let the whole family know the rules and stick to them.
Invest in a crate or pen. This will provide a comfortable place for your dog to sleep in and retreat to. This is especially useful in the first few months when you’ll have a steady flow of visitors, as the increase in activity can overwhelm many dogs.
Secure the garden so your dog can happily play in the garden when you have to deal with the baby.
The New Arrival

New arrivals can often cause your dog to feel confused or stressed. In context of the ‘pack’, your dog may feel as if he/she has lost its position in the hierarchy. Suddenly the dog, which was the centre of everyone’s attention, now is ignored much more. That is why it is preferable and kinder to change your dog’s routine months before the baby arrives. Attention seeking behaviours include: –

stealing baby items
jumping up
barking when the baby cries
entering the baby’s room unattended or
nudging/jumping up when the baby is getting fed
This behaviour should be nipped in the bud as soon as it starts.

Where will your dog sleep?

Ensure that any changes to sleeping arrangements are implemented prior to the baby’s arrival in order to give your dog time to adjust. A young or excitable dog sleeping close to where your baby is sleeping could present a potential danger to a newborn.

Providing a sleeping crate for your dog is something that the vast majority of dogs learn to enjoy. They love the dark and cosy safety of their crate. Make sure it’s introduced early on and give them time to adjust (especially if he/she is used to sleeping closer to you or on the bed etc). However, it’s important to note that your dog shouldn’t be left in crate for too many hours at a time unless it is overnight and you are in the house. If you have a more nervous dog or one that is overly boisterous, the use of a crate during the early weeks and months when the house is noisy and busy can provide a safe haven for the dog and respite for a new mum.

Preparation for the baby’s arrival

Implementing Change – Ensure that you know what changes you’re going to introduce to the dog’s routine long before the baby is due to arrive. Changes should be implemented no later than the 8th month (if possible, well before this) and all family members should be aware of what these are as dogs need consistency from all adults in the house. Introduce the boundaries eg. where you want your dog to sleep and where he/she can now go in the house.
Back to Basics – taking time out to work with your dog in regard to training is essential. Up to a month prior to the baby’s arrival, take at least 15 minutes a day to focus on what you want your dog to be aware of eg. door manners, (not rushing through the door in front of you) Basic obedience (e.g. Sit, Stay, Wait etc…) Good lead work (essential if you are going to walk your dog alongside the pram) No jumping up (essential if carrying a new baby but also when you are having lots of health, family and friends around to visit)
Routine Changes – a new baby can cause major changes to the daily routine. Feeding and walking times will doubtlessly be affected as your focus is more on your new baby. Ensure you have plenty of toys to keep your dog entertained (digging pits in a secure garden or scattered toys would be ideal). A high-quality diet that is low in carbohydrates is thought to have a calming influence on dogs. If you’re concerned about your dog not getting enough exercise, then it might be an idea to arrange a dog walker if you feel you don’t have the time.
Scents, Sights and Sounds – adjusting your dog to the new scents and sounds of a baby is simple and effective in regard to implementing this big change! Often dogs can be unsettled by crying noises and may bark/jump up as they think something is wrong. Purchasing a doll that laughs/cries like a baby is a simple way to introduce your newborn before it arrives. Wrap it in a blanket and carry it around the house – correct your dog if he/she shows any of the attention seeking behaviours. Alternatively, you could play a recording of a baby crying to allow your dog to adjust to the noise. With scent, a baby’s blanket that has been cut into pieces can be of use. Each clean piece is placed under where the baby sleeps and then placed in the dog’s crate or bed, getting your dog familiar with the scent.
Baby’s Arrival

Arrival – Ideally have someone else carry the baby into the house.
Remember… to your dog the size of his pack has just increased. To him the baby is like a new puppy arriving.
The vast majority of dogs accept a new baby easily BUT your dog is not a little human and has canine instincts.
NEVER bend down and let the dog sniff the baby
NEVER leave a baby and dog unattended
The shrill cry of a baby can over-excite a dog. Be ready to correct any unwanted behaviour.
When you sit down with the baby make sure your dog is kept on the ground.
This is not a time to have your dog up on the sofa with you.
Introduce the two – proceed with caution and be wary of how your dog might act.

Some of the dogs you’ll find in a rescue shelter may have been abused or neglected. Others are found abandoned or handed in for a range of other reasons Certain breeds, such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, languish in homes due to preconceived notions of aggressive behaviour. In reality of course, these dogs make for some of the most loving and dependable pets, so try not to judge the breed, only the deed.

When taking home, a rescue dog, it is essential to properly prepare for the commitment, patience and training required when re homing one of these dogs.


Prepare the Family – Lay down the ground rules for the whole family and ensure they stick to them. Set boundaries and, in particular, ensure your children know that the new dog is not a toy. Make sure they know to respect the dog’s space. Coming into unfamiliar territory will take a few weeks for your rescue dog to adjust.
Give it Time – Know that when your dog arrives you’ll need to give it time for them to settle in. Especially in the first 3 weeks, use a warm tone when addressing him/her but try not to handle them too much and give them time to relax.
Many owners make the mistake of over handling their new dog and introducing him /her to all the family and friends within the first few days. Often this overwhelms the dog and they sometimes nip out of fear. Then what happens?…….they end up back at the shelter! GIVE THEM SOME SPACE!
Pay little attention to the dog’s advances at this time to establish dog style leadership. Honestly they will relax more if you sometimes ignore their demands for attention …it’s what happens in a dog pack.
Sleeping Arrangements – Provide a warm, comfortable area for your dog to sleep in. Your dog should also sleep beneath/away from other family members to establish its place in the pack. I recommend getting a crate as this gives your rescue dog a safe and dark area to retreat to while they adjust to a new environment. If your dog is sleeping, make sure family members know not to disturb him/her.
Identification – Micro chipping and traditional collars are a good way to ensure you can find your dog if he/she were to become lost. Especially in the beginning, noise or lack of training might trigger your dog to run away. Be prepared for this. Also, if you’re uncertain about how they’ll react to other dogs then consider buying a muzzle to have better control over him/her while you’re out walking.
Secure your Garden – Before your dog’s arrival, make sure you have a secure garden or area you can let him/her explore. Make a habit of scattering some of their dog food and fresh fruit and veg in the garden. This let the dog feel more secure in its surroundings. It’s also a lot more natural and fun to sniff out their food rather than eat it out of a bowl.

Discipline – Use ONE word in a low tone to indicate when your dog has done wrong. A different word delivered in a soft tone should be used for praise. Use as few words as possible when interacting with your dog and never tell your dog off by using his/her name.
Body Language – This is an essential part of training as dogs mirror our own body language. Avoid aggressive handling of your dog i.e. tapping its nose or grabbing the scruff of its collar. Other than your key words for discipline and praise, adopt a steady and soft tone when communicating with your dog. Use your own body language to indicate what you’re trying to communicate. Be patient with your rescue dog during this time.
Leadership – Make sure your dog doesn’t pull on its lead but walks beside you. If out in the park, use a long training lead first to ensure your rescue dog knows who its new pack is and will come back to you. When at home, make sure you keep him/her from running to the door when someone calls. It’s your home so you answer the door.
You must be the dog’s leader not its follower!

Separation – Try to establish separation between you and your dog. Taking him/her everywhere you go will only create problems if you eventually have to leave them for short periods of time. If you do go out for the day, then make sure your dog has a constant supply of water and some crunchy vegetables to eat.
Speaking their language – Show your rescue dog plenty of love and patience while they settle into their new environment. Communicate with your dog in a way that he/she will understand. Simple tones, few words and clear body language will ensure your new dog knows its leader.
Most of all have FUN with your new dog!

Most dogs like being made a fuss of, having attention given or engaging in games of play, however, sometimes their attention seeking antics can become a bit of a nuisance. How often have you sat down after a hard day’s work, only to find a toy being thrust in our laps, or wet noses nudged against our elbows or our legs prodded and poked by insistent, demanding paws? Admittedly such advances can seem quite cute and endearing, so we often cave in and respond immediately by rewarding our dog with the validation it so desperately craves, little realising the potential significance of our actions. Before long, we find it is us being trained by the dog, rather than the other way around.

I frequently encounter clients whose dogs seem to be running the show at home and who’ve skillfully manipulated the situation in their favour by deciding when and where they get stroked and for how long they get stroked. If this is the case, there’s a chance your dog thinks it has control over you, it follows that we ought not to be so surprised when they feel justified in not paying the slightest attention to us when we need them to listen.

One tenet of good leadership at home is making sure you are in control of affection and play times. Put simply, instead of acquiescing to your dog’s request, you must be the one who initiates it by giving them a clear signal to come over to you. That way, not only have they adhered to your recall command, but you’ve demonstrated good leadership.

It is often said the best way in which to ‘love’ a dog is with boundaries.

I frequently encounter clients, whom, by their own admission have done a good job of totally spoiling their dog by indulging its every whim and fancy, with scant regard for sensible boundaries or limitations. For it is the absence of these same boundaries which has undoubtedly in some way contributed towards the behavioural problems they’re now facing.

Human love and emotions are fairly abstract concepts to the canine brain, which has little understanding of the peculiarities in the human world, and prefers instead to occupy itself with the instincts for survival. The reasons we find ourselves going all gushy and gooey-eyed over our furry companions have more to do with satisfying our own emotional needs and fulfilling our nurturing instincts, than necessarily benefitting our dogs, which is why I am keen to stress to my clients, the importance of striking a happy balance between meeting our desires and the needs of the dog.

At home, we set arbitrary boundaries for our children, such as; Do your homework, take your shoes off, eat your vegetables or don’t stay out late, none of which the children particularly like or enjoy, but we do so for their own benefit and future development. Yet often, the same can’t be said with regard to setting sensible house rules and boundaries for our four-legged friends to whom we often afford a totally free reign, particularly the smaller varieties.

Start from the beginning as you mean to go on, whether it’s a new puppy or a rehomed dog that you’re bringing into the home, by setting the rules and being consistent in their application, because blurred margins or changeable rules can be confusing for a dog and may cause stress.

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