This week is international breast feeding week. So today I wanted to share some tips on activities you can do or arrange for your dog while your feeding your baby.
Why do anything at all? While some dogs are completely content just sleeping while you feed, there are more dogs that see you sitting down as an invitation to harass you for attention. The last thing you want is to be nudged, pawed and even jumped on while in a loving embrace with your baby.
If your new baby hasn’t arrived yet, this is a great time to practice “doing nothing” with your dog. Mat training is a great starting point.
However, some of you already have a bundle of joy, and you might be reading this with a “please help me now” requirement. Even still, during baby nap times try a little mat training. It will come in handy as baby becomes more mobile.
Option 1: Distraction
Providing something calm and quiet to do. Stop feeding food in a bowl. Instead stuff Kongs, create a treat box or other interactive feeding toy. Take note of the material the toy is made of. You want rubber or softer material so it’s not banging and startling the baby while feeding.
Option 2: Training
You can train while feeding. Get a bowl of treats and reward behaviour. A wait and see style of training (reward what’s offered instead of asking for behaviour – also called Shaping) can be fun, but ensure you’ve done this before as some dogs get frustrated and will bark. Barking may be an issue if you’ve previously had a bark for treats problem too.
You can also practice already known behaviours like sit and drop. Reward Mat stays and calmness in general.
Option 3: Find It
Nose games are great for dogs. It can make up for a drop in physical activities in the early days of parenting. It’s calm, mentally stimulating and as the baby grows a game you can get children to help with.
Start small and build up. You will need to set up prior to feeding. Hide treats or the dogs dry food around the room and let the dog search.
You can also throw treats if he’s quicker than you expected at finding them all. But watch for over excitement. I throw a treat in one direction to distract and then throw the others into less obvious spaces to ensure the dog uses his nose not his eyes to find them.
Remember, manners invite inclusion. The better trained a dog is the more you will involve him in General day to day activities with your child.