Thinking of starting a family?

As you will have known when you attended your viewing at the centre, many of our dogs are not assessed with children, but this doesn't mean that they can't learn to live with children when they have fully settled into the home. We advise that your dog is given at least a year if not longer to really learn the ropes and feel at home before you begin to make family plans.

Time is key...

Preparing a dog takes a lot of time. It is best to begin preparation as soon as you find out you are expecting - the longer you desensitise your dog the less work you'll have to put in when the baby arrives.

You will use a lot of desensitisation techniques which will be repetitive and will get boring quickly but as the months go on you will find that your dog goes from being afraid or interested to chilled out at the sounds and sights of baby related things.

Prepping tips

Here are some ideas that you can use to help prepare your dog, we also recommend that you seek physical training with a positive reinforcement trainer to help you on your journey.

A dog's curiosity and prey drive is sparked by high-pitched squeaky noises which is something to avoid when baby arrives - you don't want your dog barking constantly or panicking when the dog pays interest in the baby so we advise that you look up baby noises for dogs on YouTube. 

There will be videos ranging from a few minutes to hours of baby squeaks, cries and coos - try to vary them throughout your training so that the dog doesn't instantly tire of the same video playing over and over.

Begin playing a short section of the video at a low volume do not draw any attention to the noises, no talking or fuss - not even a "what's that Rex? Is it a baby?!". Stop if your dog is worried or panicked by the noises, start again another day. If you dog is cocking their head to listen or continuing with whatever they are doing you can reward them. If they are barking or howling do not reward them for this - you want to reward the calm behaviour.

Over time gradually increase the duration and volume of the noises (yes, you will get sick of this!) after a while of rewarding you can begin to phase the treats out so that the baby noises become background noise - you can do tricks or give them a puzzle toy to play with so they are not solely focussing on the video.

To begin with this should be played for short periods at least twice a week. As you progress in your pregnancy you can do sessions every couple of days, if you're comfortable doing more then go for it! As you're drawing to the last month of pregancy begin to play bits daily in the lead up to your baby's birth so that the dog is well used to the noises by the time baby arrives.

Bringing in baby clothes, toys, bottles and car seats can be a strange change for your dog. They will be naturally curious of a new item in the house, if not a little fearful of the scary pram monster.

Allow your dog to sniff around new items, you can reward them for doing so. Do not allow them to play with any items or chew on them, and if they do perform a positive swap, not drawing too much attention and definitely not shouting at them or telling them off.

When you get your pram set it up in an area that where the dog can see it, but does not have to walk past it or interact with it. You can drop treats around the pram so that the dog can investigate at their own pace. Once the dog has had a few weeks to aclimatise to the pram entering the home you can move it into a more prominent area - such as the living room where they will need to walk past it on a day to day basis. Again, you can drop treats around it so the dog can investigate it.

Once your dog is used to the pram being stationary they will then need to learn that the pram moves -and that's scary... Begin pushing it back and forth in slow motions, treating the dog. Do not force them to come close, toss treats over to your dog if they are at the other corner of the room. Continue until the dog loses interest. 

Next step is to move the pram around the home, start off short and build it up to 5 minute sessions. Treat the dog for calm behaviour. Allow them to remove themselves from the room if they are not happy, there is no point chasing them around with the pram as they will only learn that it comes after them.

Introduce the pram on a walk - begin very short walks, if someone can walk the dog beside you whilst you push the pram that would be best. Gradually decrease the distance between the pram and the dog until you are holding the lead with your dog walking beside the pram.

Be patient. Your dog has never experienced this before and they will need lots of time to feel safe around new objects.

To get the dog used to you carrying baby around you can go and purchase a baby doll to gauge your dog's reaction. This doesn't need to be a new doll - one from a charity  shop or borrowed will be fine.

Wrap the doll in a blanket or have it in a baby grow and carry it around throughout the day. This doesn't need to done early pregancy but it is recommended as you're coming to the end of pregnancy. If your dog is paying too much attention to the doll, stand up and walk away. Each time they come over and begin to show too much attention repeat the standing up and walking away.  If you are consistent the dog will begin to lose interest.

You can also hold the doll whilst the baby sounds are playing so the dog begins to associate the sounds with the doll.

Do not allow the dog to play with the doll at any time. Dogs learn by association; if you allow the dog to play with the doll or chew it at any point this can ruin all your hard work and it could cause issues in the future. We do not want your dog to associate your baby with a play thing.

Things to remember...

  • Never leave dog and baby alone together at any point. Shut the dog away.
  • Do not allow your dog to sleep in the baby's room.
  • If your dog starts to guard items in the home from the baby/child, such as sofas stop the dog from laying on them. Be consistent and speak to a trainer.
  • Never allow the child to climb in the dog's bed, cuddle up to them, poke fingers in their food bowls, approach them on their beds or stroke them whilst the dog is sleeping. These are all very real bite risks.

We expect all adopters to work on preparing their dog for the arrival of children. You cannot return a dog to the rescue centre just because you are expecting a child. Remember that you committed yourself to the dog and must work with the dog. 

If you come across any issues, please contact us!