Now that you are starting to grasp the full reality that a baby is on the way, it isn’t too soon to start preparing your pet for the arrival of your newest family member. In all the anticipation and excitement of planning for your new bundle of joy, it is very possible that your pet already suspects that something is up.
Now, if you are like me, you have one very spoiled dog who’s role up to this point in her little life has been “Little Miss Diva”. While I love Miss Josey very much, I could see trouble brewing on the horizon. You see, I really think that Josey believed that she was the baby of the pack. I knew I was in for trouble. Being a Boston Terrier, and I know many Boston Terrier owners will agree, she is very sensitive. She is sensitive to my moods, my tone of voice, the weather, you name it. And yes, she does pout! When I began preparing her for the arrival of our little one, one of the first things I realized was that she would need to become more obedient.
Make sure that your dog knows the basic obedience commands – sit, stay, down, come. Drop it can be a helpful one too – baby toys can be irresistible. We had a key word to keep Josey from begging or bothering people when we were eating. That word was “plate”. Amazingly, we found that it worked for other things as well. You just had to say plate to her and she knew that she had to stay back. Though saying plate every time we held the baby wasn’t going to sound exactly right!
I read things that said to hold a baby doll and talk with it and interact with it as you would do with a real baby. Josey was more than mildly curious and she had this horrible desire to never let the “baby” wear socks. I was starting to get concerned and the due date was rapidly approaching! Luckily, Josey has always had an exceptional temperament with other children. This is one tough little dog that can keep up with the older kids and can be as gentle as a kitten with the little ones. I knew she could be good around other people’s children. This gave me hope. I knew she would be jealous and that there would be that role change for her. I made sure to spend extra time with her and tried to keep a lot of her same routines intact.
One of these was sleeping in bed with us. I can’t tell you how many nights I woke up to find her staring at my stomach because a kicking baby had disturbed her sleep! She was convinced I had something I was hiding underneath my shirt. I would just calmly tell her that the baby was awake and tell her to lay back down. Most of the time it worked but she didn’t trust my stomach very much!
When the baby was born, I found one of the most important pieces of advice was to greet the dog first without the baby. She was already having anxiety attacks from my short stay away from her so it was important for her to get some of the pent up frustration and energy out. When we brought the baby in, we tried not to make it a huge announcement and waited to see how she would initially react. She was very curious and did at times require a “time-out” to another room because she was too fascinated with seeing the baby. She never showed any signs of aggression towards the baby. Just lots of curiosity and of course, you could see jealousy. However, luckily for us, her jealousy was not expressed in destructive ways.
I found that the most important things to do to prepare is training, consult with a veterinarian if you have any behavior concerns or issues, take your dog around other children, get them used to baby sounds, don’t allow them to jump up on any of baby’s stuff or furniture and make sure that your dog also has a private place that they can go for themselves.
I was worried on how she would handle the transition from “baby” to “big sister” but she handled it with flying colors. I’m very proud of her. Now of course, Christmas time is another story……