Dogs and babies can be friends

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“If you can anticipate the changes that will happen before the baby arrives and start doing those things now, then you are half way there,” says animal behaviourist Karen Gray-Kilfoil of the Cape Animal MedicalCentre.

“Remember you will not have the time or inclination to give your dogs as much attention as now, so start to wean them off now.”

She makes the following useful suggestions:

  • If you walk them regularly then perhaps start walking them one at a time with the baby's pushchair, but never tie them to it. If you know you won't manage that then get someone else to start walking the dogs from now.
  • Practise cuddling a teddy or doll, carrying it around and pushing it in the pushchair. The dogs can sniff its feet, but no licking or nibbling. Praise and reward your dogs when you are giving the teddy/baby attention and they are around. They must associate the baby with pleasant things, not being pushed away, shouted at, locked out or rejected.
  • No dog is absolutely safe with children so invest in a playpen and baby gate - they will be useful to keep baby and dogs separated when you can't always be watching. You may also have to create an area where the dogs can be securely away when other babies or children come to visit. A fenced-off area of the garden with shelter, water and a view out is best. This should be a place that they like going to and where they get treats and bones.
  • When you have the baby, let the dogs smell a used nappy or dirty clothing from the baby before they are introduced to the baby. Introduce each dog separately at first, but don't wait weeks to do so -as soon as possible after you are home and settled in. Get your husb and or a friend to manage the dog while you hold the baby and do the same as you did with the teddy.

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