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Big Dogs and Little Babies: How to Prepare

44% of American millennial married couples believe their furry companions to be their “starter” children, reports Adweek.

Dog ownership and companionship is a lot like raising a little one; it requires time, effort, and much responsibility.

But when it comes time to have children of your own, what do you do with your doggy offspring?

Keeping a large dog in a house with a newborn baby requires a little bit or preparation, but with the right amount of careful attention, both your dog and newborn baby will live together peacefully and safely.

Preparing Your Dog

Your dog is used to your typical routines. However, when a newborn baby is brought into the picture those routines are thrown out, which can be quite unnerving for a dog accustomed to a particular lifestyle.

One to two months before the baby is born, start changing up your typical daily routine advises ASPCA. By varying routines such as feeding times, walk times, and wake up times you can help ease your dog into a new type of normal and minimize stress for the dog.

In addition, condition your dog to loud noises to prepare them to be desensitized for loud baby crying. The more your dog is prepared, the easier the transition will be by the time you bring your baby home.

The Baby’s Here: Now What?

While your dog was once the center of your universe, you now have a newborn baby to care for. It can be quite overwhelming for new parents to be on careful alert to watch for any changes in their baby, from knowing the signs of a heart murmur to dealing with a wheezing cough.

Keeping your baby healthy is undoubtedly a balancing act while still caring for the needs of your dog. Give the dog one of your newborn’s blankets as a first step to a positive relationship.

Teach your dog commands such as “go sit away” or create safety barriers such as stair gates from the nursery to safely nurse your baby away from the dog advises The Conversation.

Over time you can have your big pup rest at your feet as you feed your child or change diapers, but what’s important is that you take things at your own pace for the health and safety of both your big dog and little newborn. 

Getting Used to a Curious Child

Children are naturally curious and act at times out of their own curious nature. Preparing your dog for gentle poking, prodding, and ear pulling is a great way to get them accustomed to a new baby.

To do this, gently pull on your dog’s ear and pinch them, then reward immediately with a treat. Try to pair the treat giving with a cheery phrase that you can use routinely, especially when they baby pokes the dog.

As your child gets older you can teach them how to properly respect a dog’s being, but for now making your dog accustomed to gentle tugging every now and then will help them stay calm around the new baby. 

The Gentle Giant

For many, the concern is that large breed dogs will dominate over a small child. Many new couples opt for small breed dogs over large breed for this exact reason.  Large breed dogs, in fact, are easier to train than small breed dogs reports Reader’s Digest. They are often docile “gentle giants” and are perfect companions to raising small children when compared to smaller breed dogs reports the magazine. In addition, their large size doesn’t equate to higher energy levels; large breed dogs can be just as calm and collected as relaxed small breed companions. 

There’s no need to fear how your dog will live with your newborn baby if you properly prepare your household. Before you know it, your dog will care for the well being of your child just as much as you do.

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