We have a reactive dog with major anxiety issues who had never been around children. A few tips that worked for us (I'm sure many are redundant to what you have read)!
- Help your dog get used to your stroller, swing, bouncy chair, and all that jazz. Turn the electronic things on and toss treats closer and closer to them. Our dog was really freaked out by all these things at first! If you dogs aren't as crazy as mine, try getting them used to walking with the stroller.
- Pick a scent, like an aromatherapy spray (we got a California Baby one), and scent mark the baby stuff. Teach "leave it" using the scent. Much easier for your dog to determine what is baby stuff and therefore off limits (considering a lot of baby toys look and sound just like dog toys).
- Get your dog used to new sleeping/household arrangements now. If they aren't going to be allowed on your bed, in your bedroom, or in the nursery, get them used to it now so it's old news by the time baby arrives. Let your dog investigate baby stuff and the baby's room while supervised, but get them used to not being allowed in there at all times or overnight. We use those extra-tall pet gates in our house and they are great. There are ones with little inset doors for cats too.
- Get a baby doll and carry it around. Dogs want to investigate whatever is in your arms and will often jump up. Reinforce not jumping before the baby gets here. We didn't work too hard on this and it was dumb of us. If you have a baby carrier, wear the "baby" in the carrier so your dog gets used to that too.
- Chances are that as your pregnancy progresses you're doing doing as much fun stuff with your dogs anyways. Good. You're not going to have as much time for your dogs for a while after the birth. It's more helpful if it's not such a harsh transition from getting tons of attention and exercise to none. Start focusing on brain games and mental exhaustion instead. Lots of toys that require effort to get the food out, like Kongs, buster cubes, the Premier toys, or puzzles (like Nina Ottosson or the cheaper versions).
- If you have an anxious dog and have time or energy for only one piece of training after your baby arrives, Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol
is probably the most bang for your buck. It's easy, effective, and promotes calmness. You can even load these MP3 files
onto your phone or iPod and you don't have to read/hold anything while you're doing it.
- When you bring the baby home (or before), have your partner bring back clothing or a blanket that smells like the baby AND like you. Let your dogs get that scent memory so it's not totally new before your baby comes home.