Happy Monday! While Brody, Koa and I are enjoying the Pacific Northwest, I have a few more wonderful guest posts lined up for the week. To kick things off, we have the wonderful Sarah from Cole’s First Blog with a topic that has been a popular request: Getting the pets ready for the arrival of a new baby! I will fully admit when people ask me for advice on this topic I draw a blank- I didn’t do any prep ahead of time and dealt with the consequences of an attention-starved Golden who peed on strollers and ate diaper cream for a good 6 months. So thank you Sarah for tackling this topic and hopefully helping others do a better job than I did!!
My first time writing and I get to guest post for Dr. V? AWESOME. Usually it’s my little brother, Cole, who does the writing – it IS his blog after all, so I guess that’s fair – but we’re ALL big fans of Pawcurious. We’re hoping Dr. V hosts the 12 days of Petmas again this year because we’d love to participate! ANYway, I’m here to write about how pet-parents can get their furbabies ready for the arrival of younger siblings. I’m sort of an expert in the field since Mommy and Daddy brought home Cole last August.
Here is some advice Mommy was given about making sure there’d be no sibling rivalry and a recap of how it worked out for us:
Desensitize your pet to the kind of touching that little fingers are apt to do.
First of all, don’t worry about this if your baby is already here – you’ve still got time before they really start getting grabby. Those first two months or so baby and fur-baby kind of ignore each other. That said, if you are expecting and reading this, the earlier you begin getting your dog used to unexpected pokes and jabs, the more relaxed about it he’ll be. When I was a little puppy, Mommy used to gently tug my ears and poke my eyes and pull my tail a little bit. Now, Cole climbs all over me and it doesn’t bother me too much. Sometimes, though, I do get tired of it and seek higher ground – which leads me to…
Establish a baby free zone that your pet can go to get away.
Okay, I love Cole, I do – but that kid has *boundless* energy and sometimes? I’m just tired. When I get sick of playing, I know I can just go to my crate and Cole is not allowed to bother me while I’m in there. It’s my own special space. (I also escape onto the couches because Cole is too little to get onto them, but I think the days of them being a respite are limited – he’s turning into a little monkey and will surely figure out how to climb up on them any day now.) I was crate-trained and I love my spot, so this was no problem for me, but you might want to find a separate space in your house – a crate, a dog bed, a blanket, whatever – where your dog can go to escape.
Familiarize the unfamiliar.
I am a curious guy – new sights and smells are intriguing and I like to check things out. Mommy and Daddy set up all of the nursery furniture ahead of time so I had a chance to get used to it. They also put together and turned on some of Cole’s toys – so I got to play with them before he did! I was interested in the music and lights of the swing for a little while, but I got bored with it and learned that Mommy would give me a little treat when I left it alone. Mommy also started using some of the baby products on herself (wash, lotion, etc) so I got used to the smells.
We had a CD of baby sounds, but I completely ignored that, so I’m not sure how much it prepared me – especially since the cooing child on the CD sounded NOTHING like the colicky, screaming infant we got. I don’t think it could hurt to throw the CD on (or I think you can download baby sounds somewhere), but I don’t think it was a major part of OUR preparation. In fact, I’ll send out our CD to you if you want it – the first person to come and visit us on Cole’s blog and ask for it in a comment can have it!
Go through basic training.
When you bring home your brand new baby, it is in EVERYONE’s interest that the dog be calm and well-adjusted. This is *not* the time to start a brand-new training regimen. I, myself, am a graduate of puppy, intermediate, AND advanced training courses so I was all set, but if your dog doesn’t cooperate with a sit/stay command, you might want to work on that. Also, Mommy worked *really* hard with me to teach me not to jump (as much) – she didn’t want to be knocked over while holding the baby! I would *especially* recommend training if your dog is AT ALL food aggressive or possessive of his toys. Cole has literally dumped my food bowl over WHILE I was trying to eat, and he treats my water dish like his own personal splash pool. In our house, we established early on that, for the most part, dog toys = baby toys and vice versa so we share everything – it’s just easier that way, but if you don’t think you’ll be cool with that, you might want to be sure you have a REALLY strong “leave it” command.
Be prepared for the first meet and greet.
The one last recommendation Mommy was given was to send a receiving blanket home from the hospital so I could check out the baby’s scent. Daddy dutifully gave me the blanket – and I shook it vigorously from side to side like I do with my toys. (Daddy didn’t mention that to Mommy for about a month.) I’m not sure what I was supposed to do with the blanket, so maybe it gave me a little bit of advance warning of what was coming, but a blanket is NOT the same thing as a baby. (Another piece of advice Mommy had received was to buy a baby doll and tend to it as realistically as possible in the month or so before the birth. As silly as that sounds, she intended to do it – this was her first human baby after all and she really didn’t want me to eat him or something – but she got lazy and that last trimester flew by.)
Anyway, when Mommy and Cole came home Daddy and Cole stayed in the hallway so I could say hi to Mommy all by herself first. I was so excited to see her – she’d been missing for a few days – so it was really nice to be able to say hello one on one. Then she went and got Cole and Daddy brought me over to see them with my leash on. He also gave me lots of treats, which were more interesting to me than the baby, quite frankly.
The dog is not the only one who needs training.
I mentioned before that Cole climbs all over me sometimes, and that he has a bit of curiosity towards my food, but Mommy is quick to scoop him away when he starts bothering me. Just like when my puppy exuberance gets overly bouncy and I start knocking Cole over, Mommy tells Cole “gentle” when his pats turn into smacks. We are*both* learning to be nice to each other. I don’t chomp on his teeny tiny fingers and he doesn’t try to ride on my back.
I hope this has been helpful to some of you – Cole and I are BFFs now! A boy and his dog are natural allies and playmates.
Thanks so much to Dr. V for having me! Kisses to Brody and Koa. If you’d like to read more about our adventures, please come visit Cole’s First Blog!