Preparing Your Dog for a Change in the Family | PAWS Chicago

Preparing Your Dog for a Change in the Family

Making life transitions smooth for your dog

Dogs are sensitive to their environment. Major changes such as switching owners and households can be dramatic and very stressful.  

It is important to stay committed to keeping your dog as a trusted and loved companion as changes occur in your life (moving, pregnancy, job changes, etc.). There are many resources to utilize during these times of change that can make transitions smooth and comfortable for everyone.

Introducing a New Baby

Dogs and babies can be the best of friends. To help your dog prepare for the newest member of the family, follow these quick tips:

  1. Set up the nursery as soon as possible. Let your dog explore the room during the process.
  2. Introduce your dog to the new scents that he will be living with once the baby is home. Begin using the powders, soaps and lotions you will use on your baby.
  3. Before the baby’s arrival, establish necessary changes in your dog’s routine. For example, if you don’t want to allow your dog in the baby’s room, now is the time to close the door and teach your dog that this room is off limits.
  4. Invite friends with babies to visit or play sounds of a baby crying to acclimate your dog. Baby sounds may be the most frightening aspect of this new resident from your dog’s perspective. 
  5. Before bringing your newborn home, bring an unwashed piece of your baby’s clothing home for your dog to smell.
  6. Once the baby is home, try to keep your dog’s routine as close to normal as possible. This means regular mealtimes and play sessions. Praise your dog and give him attention when the baby is in the room so your dog will associate the new member of the family with good times, not competition.

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Introducing a New Love

From your dog’s perspective, he was once the recipient of nearly all your attention. Now, his pack hierarchy has been challenged. There are new smells, a new voice and a stranger who has taken over some of his favorite resting spots. He may exhibit his stress by growling, urinating or chewing.  

Here’s how your new love can become friends with your dog:

  • Food: Have your new love feed your dog and stay in the room while he is eating. In the beginning, he or she should sit across the room and gradually move closer as your dog gets more comfortable with him or her. 
  • Talk & Walk: Take your dog on a walk together. When your dog is relaxed, ask your new love to walk him with you. When he is comfortable with your new love, ask him or her to walk him alone.
  • Scent: Put a couple of your new love’s shirts by your dog’s favorite sleeping areas. Or wear his or her jacket or sweater while you are petting or playing with your dog.
  • Approach: Let your dog approach your new love. Forcing your dog to confront him or her will only increase the dog’s level of stress and cause him to further question his place in the pack.
  • Playtime: Have your new love play with your dog with her favorite toys.

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Separation from a Family Member

To ease your dog through this transition, especially if it is the primary caretaker who will no longer be taking care of the dog, place an article of clothing with their scent on it in the dog’s bed.  

Keep the dog’s routine as consistent as possible and be sure to spend extra time with the dog, giving love, attention and his favorite treat.

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Training Classes

Practice makes perfect, and your pooch will get plenty of practice in training classes. Learn about PAWS Chicago’s training classes and enroll today!