You’ve just heard the wonderful news – you’re pregnant! Friends and family are excited, you’re planning your nursery décor, but you’re also wondering how Fido the fabulous Pit Bull is going to deal with the new addition. Well, rest assured – everything will be fine.
Let’s deal with the first question on your mind. “Is my previously sweet, loving, cuddly pitty going to turn into a monster dog, his only aim in life to hurt my baby?” The answer is a resounding “NO!” If your pitty has shown no unusual aggressive tendencies, or no hyper prey drive (urge to chase and kill small furry animals) it is extremely unlikely that he will suddenly change. Having said that, be mindful of the fact that ANY dog can cause harm to a baby, mostly by accident. Pitty’s are unique only in their strength.
Evaluate your dog’s obedience level and place in the home…
- Does he ignore you when you ask for a sit, run off when you say come? Now is the time to sign up for an obedience class.
- Does he do as he wishes in the house, jumping on furniture, beds etc? Instill some boundaries in his life. At your obedience class, pay special attention to the STAY cue. You want to be able to tell your dog to stay inside or outside the nursery while you change your baby’s nappy. Personal experience shows that you don’t need doggy help when dealing with nappies – wet wipes work just fine!!
As you start gathering that mountain load of baby paraphernalia that is so absolutely essential, allow your dog to sniff it and get to know it. Let him see the pram and get used to the way it moves – some dogs don’t understand things with wheels. Teach him to walk next to the pram now, so that you can walk together when the baby arrives. Show him the toys and use the opportunity to teach “Leave it” otherwise you’ll spend the next few years running after precious stuffed animals. Find a CD with sounds of crying babies and play it while you’re in the nursery so that your dog isn’t overwhelmed when your real baby starts crying. If mom to be is the primary caregiver of the dog, encourage Dad to take on some of the responsibilities, so that Fido doesn’t feel abandoned when Mom doesn’t have as much time for him.
Finally the big day arrives and you’re off to the hospital to have your baby. Make sure there is a plan for Fido. Have someone come in and feed and play with him. Have Dad leave him some yummy bones when he’s at the hospital. During your stay at the hospital send home some soiled nappies and worn clothing to allow Fido to become used to the smells associated with the new member of his pack.
When the day comes to bring the new baby home try to be calm. Ask friends and family to give you some space to allow your dog to get to know the baby before they descend with their well wishes. The last thing you and your dog need is a crowd. If possible let your dog outside to greet you. Remember, he hasn’t seen you for a few days and could be over excited. Waggy tails and happy bounces can hurt. Leave the baby in the car with Dad and greet your dog. Once he is calm, bring baby out and let Fido have a sniff at the blankets. Full on face licks are probably best avoided!! If baby co-operates and sleeps through, put him in his nursery and give your dog lots of love and attention.
Now it is particularly important that you don’t exclude your dog. Talk to him while you nurse your baby, change it’s nappy. Try leaving baby with your partner for a short while while you take Fido out for a quick play or walk. As your baby grows and becomes mobile continue to teach your dog how to behave around this new creature in his life.
Most importantly, remember the golden rule “Never leave your baby alone with your dog, no matter how much you trust the dog!”