How To Prepare Your Chihuahua For A Baby
Owning a Chihuahua is similar to caring for a baby, but there are steps that should be taken on both sides to adjust to the new family dynamic. Preparing for the arrival of a baby can be tricky both for your pet and yourself, but through proper preparation and planning, you can do it!
Chihuahuas are very affectionate towards their family, but not so much to strangers. Keep in mind that your child will be an addition to your family that you’ve been expecting but they are strangers to your Chihuahua. Preparation should begin months before you bring your baby home and not the day they arrive.
Here are some of our top tips to prepare for the arrival:
- Begin or continue obedience training
- Get them socializing with other babies
- Let them adapt to the new environment
- Establish boundaries and a routine
- Keep them healthy
- Last, but not least - don't forget about your Chihuahua
Begin Or Continue Obedience Training
Our beloved Chihuahuas will follow us everywhere and/or do things when they crave the attention that is tolerable now but should be worked on in the future. Chances are they’ve been a little bit spoiled! Once you’re tending to your little one, they may become more demanding since they desire your full attention. Jumping and rough playing are physical acts that aren't acceptable around newborns.
With consistent obedience training, your little pooch can be more docile and calmer. The basic fundamental commands need to be practiced and reinforced. Practice “sit”, “stay”, “leave it”, “drop”, “no”, and other commands to assist you in the event your furry baby acts up. Keep them entertained and occupied with size-specific toys and rope.
Be attentive and look out for growling, baring teeth, or any other similar behaviors. If they yawn, lick their lips, kiss, whine, or pant around your baby, those can be signs of stress, anxiety, or fear. If that occurs, let them take breaks from the baby.
Chihuahuas are very smart and respond best to positive reinforcement, so praise and treats will go longer than punishment. When you reward their good behavior, they will continue behaving well to reap the benefits. Don’t engage with attention-seeking behavior. Ignore them or walk away. Again, don’t underestimate their intelligence. Once they notice the pattern, they’ll act accordingly.
Get Them Socializing With Other Babies
If possible, expose them to other babies. Of course, you’ll keep a close eye on them and you won’t force any interactions, but this socialization will get your pet used to being around little ones.
If you have friends or relatives who already have a baby, invite them to a family dinner. This is one of the ways your Chihuahua can sense the presence of a baby in your home.
Let Them Adapt To The New Environment
Slowly ease them into a new routine. Your dog is sensitive to sounds, smells, and sight. They are curious as much as they are cautious. It is easy to fuss over and baby them and do their bidding (have you seen those soulful eyes?) but keeping things normal will make them stay out of trouble and keep a good temperament.
Set up furniture, strollers, toys, and other baby items as soon as you can, so they can familiarize themselves with the sounds and shapes. They may be scared of these objects at first, but by allowing them to get used to them on their own, they will be more comfortable once the baby is home.
Special tip: Get them involved while you do it! Have them nearby as you put together the crib, baby seats, or any other furniture/equipment. This helps increase their comfort level.
To simulate the sounds of a baby, play a video of a baby crying and making noise. You might even pretend the baby is already there, perhaps with a doll, so they adjust to seeing you do the action you’ll be performing in the future.
When your baby is delivered, sneak a blanket or clothing for your dog to sniff. We all know how keen a dog’s sense of smell is. Providing them with the opportunity to get used to the smell, and perhaps even lay with it, creates a sense of familiarity and removes anxiety.
Establish Boundaries And The Routine
Think about how you want things to operate in your home with your baby. To prevent any interruptions and avoid having your pet alone in a room with your child, you need to establish some boundaries. Install a baby gate, locks, and/or keep the door closed if you do not want them to enter. Start setting this up ahead of time, so they become accustomed to the new rules.
Babies want to put anything and everything in their mouths. Keep dog toys out of the way and place their food and water in a spot inaccessible to your baby. Kibble is a choking hazard for children but it’s also just not created for consumption by humans.
If their sleeping arrangements will change, adopt that routine now. We can’t stress how important it is to get that routine going as soon as possible. It also may be time to look into crates or play areas for your pet so they have their own space, free from the baby.
Start walking them with an empty stroller to get a feel for navigating their walks. You’ll want to get a 6’ leash and throw away the retractable ones. Strollers and retractable leashes are a safety hazard, and we don’t want you becoming one of many horror stories! Keep your steps calm and controlled.
Keep Them HealthyBabies are more susceptible to illnesses. Take your pet to a veterinarian, verify that their vaccines and rabies shots are taken, and get them checked for fleas and ticks. Your veterinarian can direct you to the best method that is safest for the Chihuahua and the baby.
Don't Forget About Your Chihuahua
Parenting is a huge responsibility in and of itself, but you'll need to multitask. If you gave your Chihuahua a lot of attention before, they'll still expect the same amount now. Being a busy parent can result in the tapering of that attention, so don't forget about them. Try to spend some one-on-one time with them every day.
- What to do when you’re due?
Ask a friend or dog sitter to watch your pet during the labor. The last thing on your mind should be “how is my pet doing?” You might even want to let them keep the dog for a few days while you settle into this new life.
- What do you do when your baby is finally home?
Chihuahuas are dogs, with big personalities. Once they get used to you, they’ll never leave your side. When it's time to introduce any non-furry babies who can take that attention away, it can become a bit tricky. Allow your newborn and pet's first interaction to occur naturally.
If you didn’t get a dog sitter, walk in your home like normal. They feed off your energy, so remain calm. Let one person go in first to distract the dog, while the other sneaks in with the baby and preps the area. If your pet notices the baby, allow them to sniff but not touch. Keep your baby wrapped up.
ConclusionChildren tend to not be as 'well-behaved' as adults, they don't control their emotions and they do things that might make your small dog nervous and stressed like crawling on the floor, crying, and reaching out their curious hands. Your early preparation to train them will pay off here.
As important as it is to train your Chihuahua, you’ll want to “train” your baby too. Always keep interactions monitored as your child can hurt the Chihuahua because they're so fragile. Children learn by seeing, so be calm and gentle towards your pet. Mutual respect will save you all!
Good luck and congratulations! You’ve got this!