Welcome to the 8th Annual Blog Carnival at Childbirth Today! Today's featured blogger is Jennifer Schryock, owner of Family Paws. Jennifer specializes in helping families, babies and pets establish great and nurturing relationships. You can contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Dog and Baby Support Hotline at 1-877-247-3407! Her website is www.familypaws.com
If you are pregnant or preparing for adoption, chances are that you have looked into all sorts of tips and suggestions on how to make this a smooth and positive transition for your current baby – your dog. It seems there is a great deal of information out there that points to the same exercise: carrying a doll. Yes, that’s right – a doll! Wondering how this is a helpful exercise to include as you prepare with your family dog? Great question! Here are just a few of the reasons why this is a valuable exercise:
Posture: When you are holding a baby, your posture will change. Posture is a key factor in communicating with our dogs. Are you able to give cues to your dog while holding the baby-doll? Practice sitting, walking, and lying down while holding the doll. Notice if there is a change in your effectiveness with your dog when you are in the different positions.
No hands! You will have your hands full a great deal more once the baby arrives. It is important that you can interact with your dog in a hands-free manner when giving cues. How does your dog behave when you are holding the doll on the couch? Sitting on the floor?
Interaction: What happens when you talk to your baby doll? Does your dog become excited? Confused? You may catch yourself “baby talking” to your dog. This may become confusing once your baby arrives.
Lifting and passing baby: How does your dog respond to passing baby from one person to another? What about lifting baby?
Practice using your baby carrier with your baby-doll. Wraps and baby carriers will change your body shape. Some dogs may react to this extension of their human. Any postural change in the familiar human form may cause concern, stress, or excitability in some dogs. Some dogs may not care, but it is important to know if yours does before you bring home baby.
The baby-doll gives you a way to role-play in a controlled, positive, and relaxed manner. Teaching your dog how to behave around you while you are holding a baby is important and best done when relaxed. If you wait until after the baby arrives, you may be impatient and respond sharply – which can create a negative perception of the baby for your dog.
Putting the baby-doll in your baby equipment gives you a visualization of situations that will happen in the months ahead. For example: when you put the doll in the baby swing, does your dog bark when it swings? Nip at the doll’s feet? Now is the time to teach your dog how you would like him to behave when the baby is swinging.
These are just some of the easy things that you can do to help prepare with your dog for Baby’s arrival. Most dogs do very well with their new human family members. Active preparation helps parents to feel confident and in-control when the day comes to bring the new baby home. This confidence and calm control is the key to success and a truly wonderful beginning.