Pregnant and freaking out about how your furbabies are going to cope? You’ve come to the right place.
We were lucky that all 3 of our large (50+ lbs) dogs had previously worked with a professional trainer. We even took our husky mix Denver to an obedience class after we adopted him (he hates being in the car so naturally it was a DISASTER and we quit after a few classes).
We loved the trainer we hired for Denver so we hired him again for Benji (big mutt) and Chloe (pitbull). Unfortunately, our trusted trainer passed away before we conceived so we were on our own when we found out we were expecting.
If you feel more comfortable and have the funds, by all means hire a professional trainer. Do your homework–from our experience, a pet store obedience class is pretty pointless if you have a rescue dog with baggage. Not all trainers are created equal so make sure you check their credentials and read their reviews.
But you don’t need to spend big bucks to train your dog. YouTube is a great resource. We watched a ton of videos by The Good Dog Training with Sean O’Shea. Find something that works for you and most importantly, STICK TO IT.
Pre-baby, we had gotten lax with a lot of things we learned in training. The dogs would be left free to roam when we left the house. The dogs would sleep in our bed with us. We stopped using the tools that worked for them (prong collar and e-collar, you can see our posts on these tools here and here).
No matter what method of training you choose, here are some essential commands for your dogs to learn.
Crate training is an absolute MUST when you have multiple dogs. Our dogs love their crates. Make the crate their sanctuary. Get them a high quality crate with a nice comfy bed. If they are particularly destructive, consider this alternative.
When we first adopted Denver, we were horrified with the idea of crate training. It sounded like prison. When done correctly, your dogs will seek out the comfort of their crate. Our dogs will wander into their crates to take a nap or lay down. The crate is where they should eat, rest, and sleep. When we leave the house, we crate all our dogs.
Denver and Benji both had really bad separation anxiety and crate training helped them relax. Before crate training, Denver would howl those miserable husky cries until we came home and Benji would stress eliminate in the house when we left. Crate training solved these issues. When we left Chloe out, she chewed up a few pens which seemed harmless enough until she chewed up a $100 Apple Pencil. Crate training for the win!
We don’t advocate leaving your dog(s) crated all day, but it should feel like a safe place for them to hang out for a few hours a day.
Even when the dogs are free to roam the house, we still enforce a place command. Place gives them something to do so they aren’t stressing about what else they should be doing. Whether you use a mat, a rug, or dog bed, it should be a clearly defined spot for them to lay down and observe. They should not break place until you give the release command.
Place is also helpful when teaching them boundaries (like staying out of the baby’s nursery).
Before we moved to a single family home, we lived in a third floor walk up and would take the dogs out twice a day. During the first trimester, my wife suffered from all day nausea (morning sickness is a myth), so I walked all 3 dogs twice a day. I chose a structured walk over a long walk every time.
Above all, your dogs want to feel safe on the walk. When in correct heel position, your dog(s) should be walking next to your heel (so slightly behind you). When dogs are walking ahead, they are looking for danger because they feel the need to protect you (and later on, the baby). This is usually what leads to things like leash aggression and dogs dragging you down the block.
The heel command teaches your dogs to respect you and that if there is danger, you are in charge.
Thank you for reading part 2 of this series. Next time, we will discuss how we prepared the dogs for life with a baby and how we introduced the baby.