There’s something extremely special and super cute about photos of a little puppy and a newborn snuggled up together, sleeping peacefully. Don’t they make you want to simultaneously parent both? Well, let’s bring you back to reality – both babies, and pets, require work. A. LOT. OF. WORK. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean its impossible, and these super cute photos may very well be your own – shh… don’t wake the baby – and the dog!

Logan Beauregard from A Helping Paw shares with Dreaming of Baby tips for preparing your dog for baby, offers insight on training, and has some advice when it comes to choosing the best breed for your young family.

Charles: Hello and welcome to Dreaming of Baby, the source for questions mothers and fathers-to-be want the answers to! We have with us today professional Dog Trainer Logan Beauregard who has worked with young families and is here to provide some much-needed advice! Logan, if you would be so kind as to introduce yourself to our readers, tell them a little about your experience!

Logan at A Helping Paw: My name is Logan Beauregard and I’m a dog trainer at A Helping Paw dog training. I provide guilt-free training solutions (in person and online), for busy families so that they can enjoy their lives with their dog. I’ve been training dogs full-time for two and a half years.

Preparing your dog for baby

Charles: Thank you for being here! I would like us to focus on two important scenarios: the first being families that already have a canine companion and are expecting a new addition to the family. How can the family prepare their furry friend for the new addition?

Logan at A Helping Paw: There are several things you can do to prepare your dog. You want to have a plan in place so that you can continue to give your dog daily attention and meet your dog’s exercise needs once baby is home. That might mean asking a friend to come spend time with your dog or setting aside quality one-on-one time with your dog in the evening. You can get puzzle dogs to entertain your dog when you are a little bit busier. You also want to give your dog their own “personal space”, like a dog bed or a crate that they’re used to so they can go there if they feel uncomfortable with the baby. Space management is the easiest and most effective way to help dog and baby get along.

Logan Beauregard: “You also want to give your dog their own “personal space”, like a dog bed or a crate that they’re used to so they can go there if they feel uncomfortable.”

Charles: With regards to training, a pet owner generally gets a nice nine-month warning to prepare for the addition, what would you recommend in terms of training in this period to help both the owner and dog prepare?

Logan at A Helping Paw: If you can find a “dog and baby” class, that is a great first step. You want to use this time to get your dog used to all the new objects that come with a baby. Slowly introduce the items to the environment and let your dog approach them on their own terms. You might want to do practice walks with the stroller if you plan on doing so later. You also want to start gating off parts of your home that you will not let your dog enter once baby arrives so that they can get used to the new boundaries and make it more of a gradual change. If you have a dog that is very hyper in the house, you want to try to teach them to be calm by training them to go to their bed on command and stay there, so that they aren’t as likely to knock into you in excitement.

The importance of obedience training

Charles: How important is obedience training prior to moving on to what would be more advanced baby specific training? What are the main benefits to the dog in getting obedience training?

Logan at A Helping Paw: Obedience training is very important not only for teaching your dog, but for teaching you how to handle your dog. If you know how to train basic obedience with your dog, then the more advanced training will be much easier. Obedience training helps you teach your dog manners – things like sitting before you leash them, coming to you when called – but most importantly it gets your dog used to looking to you for direction. Regular obedience training helps convince your dog that you are the best thing in the world and that they should do what you ask even when they’re excited, which is a very useful skill to develop.

Logan Beauregard: “Regular obedience training helps convince your dog that you are the best thing in the world and that they should do what you ask even when they’re excited, which is a very useful rapport to have.”

Charles: So, for owners that have never been to a dog training class, can you tell us a little about what happens in obedience classes? How long does basic obedience training take, and what level of time commitment can they expect to need to get their dog trained?

Logan at A Helping Paw: Absolutely! So, what happens in obedience classes is your instructor will show you how to train your dog to do something (for example, sit) and you will practice it and they will give you advice if you’re struggling. In a basic obedience class, you will typically learn: sit, down, stay, and come. Your instructor will make it a little bit harder every week. Most classes are 1 hour a week for 6 to 8 weeks. You also need to practice outside of class – ideally 5-10 minutes at a time, 2-3 days a week – in order for your dog to get the full benefit. By the end of 8 weeks of focused training, you can have a dog that listens to you very well and so long as you use the commands every few weeks, they will remember this training.

Charles: Since you also provide training remotely, can you walk us through how said training works? Would I walk around with a smartphone or something of the sort?

Logan at A Helping Paw: Remote training typically works through Skype so you can use your smartphone or a computer. You want to have a way to put the phone down so the trainer can see you work with your dog; you’ll need some kind of way to stand the phone up or a partner to help film for you. You can also take a video beforehand and send it in for advice if that’s easier. There’s a lot more work involved on your end with remote training because you are the only one who can touch your dog, but sometimes it’s the best option for people who can’t find a local trainer.

Charles: That is excellent and good to know. Moving on to families considering adding a furry friend to the family – they may have grown up with a dog themselves and want one for their children or may, as sometimes happens, find the addition an unexpected one. What advice would you give to a family or, more importantly, what considerations should they make before taking this step?
Logan at A Helping Paw: One of the most important things to consider is that a dog takes a lot of time and attention! If you grew up with dogs, chances are your parents did a lot of things for the dog that you did not see and this can be quite the adjustment. Integrating a new dog into your household can take several weeks or months and it’s normal for the arrival of a baby to destabilize things too. You want to be very careful about how much you are committing to during an already busy time: a bored dog can turn destructive or disruptive pretty quickly and most dogs don’t entertain themselves alone. Even though the idea of raising a puppy with your baby is super cute, realize that puppies don’t sleep through the night for the first few months either and they require a huge amount of attention.

Logan Beauregard: “Integrating a new dog into your household can take several weeks or months and it’s normal for the arrival of a baby to destabilize things too.”

Logan at A Helping Paw: The other most important thing to consider is the cost of a dog. Routine things like food, regular vet trips, toys, tick & flea & worm prevention, and training classes – it adds up quickly. But you also need to take into account emergency vet bills which can reach 1000-5000$ in a single visit.

Best breed for your growing family

Charles: Wow, that is a major consideration especially when you add the costs of a newborn and their emergency visits and care. If the family is financially stable and has the time flexibility to juggle the commitment of a new dog and a baby (quite the juggling act it is), would you be able to provide any advice on breed choices?

Logan Beauregard: “There are a few breeds that are pretty safe for young families – Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, and your well-tempered Shelter Mutt”

Logan at A Helping Paw: Yes, so there are a few breeds that are pretty safe for young families – Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, and your well-tempered Shelter Mutt. These dogs tend to be pretty laidback, tolerant, and can handle a busy family environment. Breeds that you want to avoid (unless you’re experienced with them) are large high-energy (Huskies, Boxers, German Shepherds, some Doodles) or that are mouthy (Poodles, Shih-tzu, Jack Russell Terrier, Pekingese, Chihuahua). If you’re concerned about future allergies, it’s probably best to avoid very fluffy or drooly dogs (Newfoundland, St. Bernard, Mastiff). I never recommend a strong guarding breed (Akita, Great Pyrenees) as a first-time dog for a family with kids. Remember that you can always get the breed of your dreams later on when you have more time; your baby’s safety should come first.

Logan Beauregard: “You can always get the breed of your dreams later on when you have more time; your baby’s safety should come first.”

Charles: Totally agree. It has been quite the interesting conversation we have had here today! I have kept you quite a while so on a final note, is there any specific piece of advice you would give parents-to-be when it comes to adding or integrating a pet to their growing family?

Logan at A Helping Paw: Thank you for having me! My final piece of advice would be to reach out for help if you are overwhelmed with your dog or not sure what to do, especially if you’re on a bit of a time crunch with a baby on the way. Nobody is born knowing how to train a dog or choose the right dog, but chances are there are people around you who would be more than happy to help. Good luck with your multi-species household!

Charles: And as a final note where can they reach you if they have any more questions or are in Ottawa and are looking for an experienced dog trainer!

Logan at A Helping Paw: You can reach me at www.ahelpingpaw.ca or by email directly at logan@ahelpingpaw.ca . I am happy to answer any training questions you might have!

Read more about kids and pets in this guide by Logan from A Helping Paw.

For more insight on dealing with kids and your furry babies, read more in this Dreaming of Baby segment:

Pets and a New Baby: Why Planning and Routine are Important

Tips for Parenting Dogs and Babies

Preparing your Pet for Newborn

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