Doggy doulas: Preparing your dog for a human infant

Having a newborn turns a family’s tranquil routine upside-down, and sometimes pet dogs get pushed to the sidelines; dog doulas can help with the transition. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Right before Christa Boeke, a 39-week pregnant woman, checked into her hospital for a routine checkup, she told her Boxer, Brisco, she would be home in a few hours.

Boeke tells Rose Gordon Sala of the New York Postthat Brisco is her first baby.

Unfortunately for Boeke, she had complications, and the hospital had to perform a C-section. Boeke began to panic — not about her pregnancy (doctors assured her she and her baby would be fine). She worried about her dog. “He doesn’t like to be alone,” she said. “All I could think of was how I told him I’d be right back.”

That was two years ago. Boeke and her 2-year old son are doing well. She’s pregnant again, and this time she made plans to hire a doggy doula.

Sara Newman, of D is for Doula, tells the New York Post soon-to-be parents should prepare their dogs for labor and changes in the house. “It’s not unlike putting a plan in place if you have older children,” Newman says. “You want to make sure there’s as little disruption to the dog’s routine as possible.”

With all that is going on during the pregnancy, and when the baby comes home, new parents often forget about the family dog. They are preoccupied with the arrival of the baby.

Some new parents arrange to have their dogs boarded when the baby arrives home, as a new baby brings visitors and activity. “If you feel that your dog does not adjust well to change, you can line up boarding ahead of time,” says Colleen Safford, a New York doggy doula. “If you have a laid-back dog, then go ahead and have them around. It’s about knowing your dog.”

Liz Alderman, 34, arranged to have her mixed-breed dog, Putney, at a boarding facility she described as a kind of “heaven for dogs, with acres of fenced-in land and a pond. Putney can run around and play with other dogs.”

Doggy doulas also work with families on how to introduce the dog to the baby. “You really have to introduce the baby in a calm, almost unaffected way. The dog is going to want to see what it is,” says Mitch Marrow, former NFL player and founder and co-CEO of the N.Y.-based doggy daycare center The Spot Experience. “It’s hard when you have a new baby to remember that the dog was there first.”

Sources: New York Post, Doggy Doula, D is for Doula