Dogs & Babies

Introducing your dog to the new baby.

You’ve baby-proofed the house and practically memorized those “What to Expect” books.

You’ve toured the hospital and completed your childbirth preparation classes.

Your nursery is missing only one thing: the baby.

But wait — perhaps you’ve forgotten something. And it’s staring right at you, wagging its tail.

Dog owners need to take special precautions when bringing home a new baby. Your “first baby” might not be so sure about the new bundle of joy.

No doubt, the dynamics in the home will change, with new sounds, smells and routines and lots of visitors. All this — not to mention the little darling who suddenly has taken your canine’s place at center stage — can be confusing and upsetting to your pet.

New parents can learn how to help their dogs (and themselves) manage this challenging time through a class being offered at Norton Healthcare.

Matthew Duffy, a nationally known dog trainer and author of “Ten Natural Steps to Training the Family Dog: Building a Positive Relationship,” will review constructive ways to handle these challenges during the class.

Duffy, who has written other dog training books and instructional DVDs, will discuss topics such as how food and visitor control can help dogs keep their composure during the excitement of having a new baby in the house. He also will cover the importance of maintaining a walking routine and “door control,” which refers to teaching your dog boundaries.

Undoubtedly, your dog will go through an adjustment period, just like new parents do. While you may be thinking, “I never imagined I could be so tired,” your dog may have extra energy it needs to work off because daily walks have been shortened or forgotten. Also, some dogs may forget their manners and act out or revert to old habits you thought had been nipped in the bud.

Parents should always use caution when their baby is around a pet, no matter how docile or friendly the animal has been in the past. My husband still laughs about how, after bringing home our first daughter, I practically went into a trance staring at our cat.

“Did you ever notice how big and sharp her teeth are?” I asked, worriedly.

We might have taken a class to “baby-proof” our pet if we had been aware of one.

Register online for the “Dogs and Babies” class, or call (502) 629-1234 to register by phone.

- Mickey Gramig