We have three dogs. And until now, they have been our babies. We absolutely adore them. That being said, I do have a few concerns about how they will interact with Bonnie.
Our oldest dog, Lady, is a chihuahua. She does not do particularly well with other dogs, and based on the limited interaction she has had with children, I am incredibly nervous about how she will handle our new arrival. She is a lap dog, and used to being the center of my attention. I can see her being depressed after the baby gets here, but more disturbingly, I would not be shocked if she is aggressive toward Bonnie at first. This is just unacceptable, because I don’t want Bonnie to have any reason to be afraid of dogs.
The other dogs are great, and the only thing I’m concerned about is Marlow’s jumping. I don’t think she realizes how big she is compared to our two other small dogs. And when she gets excited, she jumps. High. I could see this being both a nuisance and a danger once Bonnie gets here.
My concerns led me to do a little research, and I’ve found some practical, doable steps to take to prepare family pets for the arrival of a new baby.
How to Prepare You Pets for Baby:
- Plan ahead for your dog’s new routine- If you normally feed your dog breakfast at 7 am, start feeding him at random times between 6 am and 10 am. If you normally take him to the park to play fetch every Saturday, start taking some breaks from the park, and letting him in the backyard instead. Sit in a lawn chair and toss a ball back and forth with him. This is something you can do with a baby, and while it requires little energy on your part, it still satisfies the dog’s need for play.
- Keep your dog busy with food-dispensing toys- Kong toys are great, because they can keep even the most active of dogs occupied and busy for thirty minutes or so, which will give you time to tend to Baby, or to yourself.
- Set up your baby furniture and toys in advance- Doing this will help ensure that your dog is used to all the new fixtures in the house before the baby actually arrives.
- Get your dog used to baby noises- If your dog has not spent much time around babies, it may be wise to purchase a CD of infant sounds.
- Teach your dog some manners- If your dog has not learned: sit, stay, down, lie down, how to walk nicely on a leash, now is the time to teach him. Strolls with the baby will be much more pleasant if the family dog knows how to walk properly on a leash. Feeding times with Baby will be more enjoyable if the dog understands how to lie down next to you while you feed the baby. Stay and down are important for those 3 am feedings when your dog thinks it’s time to play.
- If the nursery is not going to be off-limits to the dog- Put a dog bed in the baby’s room and keep a container of treats nearby. Every now and then, leave a few treats on the dog’s bed when he is not looking. Eventually the dog will discover the treats on his own, and he will learn to love his special spot in the baby’s room.
- Practice with a doll- Some suggest that introducing your pet to a doll, and treating that doll as if she were your baby, will help the pet adapt to the real baby more easily. Some dogs will jump up when they see you life the doll into your arms. Each time this happens, it is your job to correct the dog and teach him not to jump, by making sure that he understands and heeds the “down” command. You can also use the doll to teach your dog to gently give kisses. Praise your dog for any gentle contact he has with the doll, and give him lots of treats during this training process. If the dog tries to bite the doll, tell him “no,” and immediately direct his attention to one of his toys. This will help him learn the difference between the baby and a toy, and will help him learn to interact gently with the baby.
Well, we have a lot of work to do, and less than six months to do it, so I better get to it!
I’d love to hear any other suggestions you might have for preparing your dog for a new baby.