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Introducing Your New Baby To Your Dog

With an endless list of things to do before their baby arrives, expectant parents often find it comforting to spend time with their pets. Although, during cuddle time on the couch with their dog, something happens. The realization of how this huge change in their household may affect them! This can lead to more anxiety for new parents. While cats seem to somewhat easily adjust to the addition of a baby, dogs can have problems getting used to the newest family member in the house.

However, this process can go much more smoothly. How? By pet parents remembering a few steps to take before the baby is born. In addition, learn some tips to follow for when the baby comes home for the first time. 5 Points Animal Hospital has worked with many new parents on introducing their new baby to their dog. Therefore, we would like to share our recommendations.

Prepare your dog by teaching him new skills.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), it is important that your dog knows some basic skills. This includes how to follow commands – and how to behave politely. What if your dog cannot sit, stay, get down, or come when called? You will need to teach them these skills to ensure the safety of your baby. You never want your dog to jump on you when you are holding your baby, or to startle the baby by barking loudly.

Although it may sound harsh to first-time parents before the baby is born, the command “go away” can be a hard one for your dog to get used to. However, it is so necessary for the happiness and security of both your dog and your baby! Dogs do not always realize that they can move away if a baby crawling towards them makes them feel trapped and uncomfortable. That’s why teaching your dog to move to a favorite resting spot in another area or room is important. When you say “please go away,” it reduces their anxiety and need to react by growling or snapping at the baby.

Provide positive experiences with the baby for your dog from the very start.

When your newly expanded family comes home for the first time, you should ask your accompanying family and friends to go into the house first. This is so that your dog has time to express excitement at being around people. It allows you to calmly enter the house without alerting your dog to any worry you may have about him startling or disturbing the baby. Speak to your dog softly and gently. Also, have someone else be close by to give them treats for staying calm.

These tips should also be followed when you decide to let your dog check your baby out more carefully. When you allow your dog to take their first sniffs of the baby, you may feel more comfortable by directing him to start at your baby’s feet. Staying friendly and relaxed during this first encounter can set the stage for a happy relationship between your dog and baby!

Are you nervous about introducing your dog to your new baby? Teaching your dog some important skills can help you remain calm and relaxed when you bring your baby home for the first time. If you have any questions or concerns about this topic, contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital for more helpful tips!

Dog Tricks Aren’t Just for Fun

Everyone enjoys when Fido, or in Seattle’s case, Frodo, does an exciting trick to make everyone laugh. It brings people together and provides enjoyment. Tricks can be extremely entertaining and fun, but many tricks play double-duty, giving purpose and motivation to teaching your dog basic commands, and beyond. They can provide safety, security, and purpose to your animal’s life, as well as create a stronger bond between human and pet. Regardless of the situation, there are many reasons to teach your animal tricks, past the basics of “sit” and “stay”. “Roll over” and “go to your spot,” among others, give peace of mind during stressful situations to both you and your pet.

Teaching Dogs Tricks - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

Safety

Several tricks can provide peace of mind for you and your family to ensure that your pet lives a long and healthy life. In your own home, commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “go to your spot” keep your animal out of your hair, and out from under your feet. Teaching your dog that it has a spot to call its own, whether a bed, chair, or crate, can provide very useful during stressful situations where the dog could cause an accident being in the way. This trick is perfect for mealtimes, when the last distraction you want is your dog begging at the table. The command moves your pet out of the situation, therefore minimizing the habit long-term. In the real world, “come,” is extremely useful when the dog escapes from the leash or its backyard. This command is useful regardless of where you live, but especially if you live in a city. Roads have proved deadly for animals of all sorts and sizes, don’t let your pet be one of them! Use “come” to retrieve your pet out of a potential threat, and keep it safe and sound.

Security

When your pet is feeling anxious or over-excited due to outside stimuli, there are several steps you can take to calm your pet down. There will be instances where you want to distract your pet from other dogs or animals like birds or squirrels, or from small children, in which case using the commands “roll over” and “spin” will create a diversion and entertain your pet until the animal or child leaves or is removed from the situation. If your pet loves the “play dead” command, use it to check for ticks, fleas, or skin issues. This is a house-saving (in the case of fleas), and even life-saving trick that could save you and your family from a lot of hassle down the road.

With a solid dose of training, your pet will not only listen to you and follow your commands, it will be all the more safer and secure for doing so. You can ensure your dog’s safety inside and outside your home with the right training, but it’s also up to you to make sure it gets regular check-ups with 5 Points Animal Hospital. A pet with great obedience training still needs proper vaccinations to prolong its life. Call us at (615) 750-2377 for any questions you may have.

Are You Able to Tell If Your Dog is Anxious or Stressed?

Like their owners, dogs have anxieties and fears. A dog’s anxieties may not be the same as our own anxieties; however, they cause stress and physical reactions just the same. Many dog owners fail to recognize the most common signs of stress and anxiety in their dogs before it’s too late. Learning to recognize these common signals can help you prevent more serious problems later on.

Stressed or Anxious Dog? - Nashville TN

Some of the more common dog anxiety problems

  • Separation anxiety—a condition in which the dog gets anxious when left alone—is a huge problem for some dogs (as well as for some of their owners). Dog separation anxiety usually occurs when there is a shift in their owner’s schedule, thereby disrupting the amount of time we’re able to spend with our dogs. When faced with such disruptions, dogs may get stressed and become destructive.
  • Noise anxiety—a condition in which a dog becomes fearful when exposed to loud or unusual noises—can severely stress out a dog. Some of the more common causes of the offending noises include fireworks, thunderstorms, and garbage trucks. When confronted with any unpleasant noise, your dog may retreat to cover or simply cower until the noise subsides.
  • Travel anxiety—a condition in which your dog becomes unsure and stressed from unexpected moving—is a bit less common, as many dogs enjoy car rides. The stress in this situation comes from doing something new and unexpected.
  • Confinement anxiety—a condition in which your dog gets anxious when he or she feels trapped or confined—can have much the same impact on an affected dog as it would on a human facing the same affliction. If a threat should arise, a confined dog may be unable to escape or flee.

Symptoms of an anxious or stressed dog

When dogs become stressed or anxious, they may engage in certain behaviors to help relieve their stress. For example, when pet owners are anxious or stressed, they may begin to pace, bite their nails, or play with their hair; all of these are commonly referred to as “nervous ticks.” Dogs behave in much the same way. They may also pace, groom themselves, and much more. Some dog anxiety behaviors may result in property destruction, may cause their owners harm, or may simply be undesirable to our human sensibilities. The behaviors can include:

  • Non-stop barking
  • Chewing up furniture, walls, shoes, garbage, and anything else in sight
  • Pooping and peeing in the house, crate, or other confinement area
  • Eating his or her own poop
  • Aggression toward people, dogs, or other animals.

Punishment or other behavioral deterrents will do little to stop these anxious dog behaviors in the long-term because punishment doesn’t address the root of the problem, which is his or her anxiety. In fact, suppression of these displacement behaviors through punishment or other deterrents will only make the problem worse, as these methods will only increase stress and uncertainty levels for the dog.

From mild whining when left alone to full-scale panic attacks, many dogs suffer from anxiety and other forms of stress. While it’s often necessary to involve a professional trainer, and always a good idea to have your vet rule out physical problems, there are many techniques owners can use to address fears, anxiety, and stress in their dogs. Not all dogs will exhibit overt signs of stress or anxiety, however, the better you get at recognizing your dog’s signs, the better you’ll be able to help him or her avoid situations that could cause serious problems down the road. If your dog has been a little out of sorts lately and you’re looking for some behavioral counseling to get him or her back on track, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to help!

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