Three Dogs and a Baby
As many of you probably already know, Paul and I had our first child on December 22, 1999. As you can imagine this has been a huge adjustment for our dogs. We have tried our best to be fair and consistent but we can't deny the fact that the baby has upstage the dogs on all accounts. It must be difficult to be a dog and all of a sudden your house and parents are taken over by a baby human. The dogs don't seem to mind the crying, or the late night feeding but I'm sure they miss a lot of the spontaneous play sessions and outing. I deep telling them it won't be like this forever, and I plan surprise walks and training sessions as often as I can, but they still look desperate for attention most of the time. When it comes right down to it though, no matter what extra thing I do.. life at our house has changed and it will never quite be the same again. Change doesn't have to be a bad thing, but letting go of how things use to be has been difficult for me. I know however that it won't always be this hard to balance everything and in time the dogs will adjust to life with baby. Some ways we have found to help ease this transition and pointers to offer other new parents who own one or more dogs.
- Try to set aside 10 minutes every day to cuddle and play. Baby naps are great for this and luckily babies do sleep alot (just not at night or for too long at a stretch !)
- Feed your dog at the regular time every day.
- Provide access to the potty area consistent and frequent to prevent accidents.
- Schedule regular training sessions 5-10 minutes each three times a week so your dog gets consistent practice and still feels like he's part of the family. Work on down/stay and go to your bed you will use this command constantly when you are busy with baby things.
- If you go for walks with the baby, take your dog along as s well.
- Buy several new, interesting toys and give a new one every other week. This will help stimulate and entertain your dog while you are busy with the baby.
- Invite a friend over to play with and cuddle your dogs, they will love the extra attention and you'll love the freedom.
- Enroll your dog in a daycare program as often as possible, tired dogs lay around the house and are not as demanding of your time.
- Keep dog cookies on he changing table or where you normally feed the baby. Give your dog a cookie while you change or feed the baby to help him associate the baby with good things.
- Send your dog to the groomere every couple of weeks. You'll feel better knowing his coat is brushed and clean and you'll have less cleaning to do around the house.
Though adding a baby to your household can be a difficult transition for a dog, take heart in less than a year this new little member of your pack will be another source of love, affection and cookies. When life slows down a bit (right around the baby's 3 month birthday) think about getting the dog enrolled in a refresher obedience course or a fun class like Tricks or Agility. This will give you a much deserved night out with your best friend while improving your relationship, and spending quality time together. Hope to see you in class soon and believe me it gets easier as time goes by !!