Preparing your pet to meet your new Baby
Many of you have talked with fondness of the love your child has for their pet – we asked one soon-to-be-new Mama, how she is preparing her ‘fur baby’ for the arrival of their first ‘real baby’!
Victoria from Cherry Vintage Home tells us about her journey:
Preparing our Dog to meet our new Baby
“I am willing to admit that our two year old Dachshund Spike has always been our first “baby. A “fur baby” if you like. He’s more than a pet, he’s an important member of our little family of three – that will very soon be expanding to four, with our first human baby due in a week’s time. I have my own vintage furniture and soft furnishings company Cherry Vintage Home so Spike and I spend a LOT of time together, and have done since he was 8 weeks old – he really is my little shadow. When my partner Andy and I first found out we were expecting, we thought it might be a good idea to get some professional advice on how to prepare Spike for the new baby. Thankfully he has already grown up around young children with my nieces and nephews. He loves them and is patient and gentle (even with the boisterous and at times heavy handed three year old!), but I know that this change will be a huge adjustment for all of us, and want to make the transition from three to four as easy and as stress free as possible for him, as well as for us!
We started by breaking some bad habits my partner and I had caused in the early days by allowing Spike free reign of the house and furniture. Now he’s not allowed on the bed, and has very limited time on the sofa (which he can’t just jump up on anymore!) – he has to wait to be picked up and sit with us. Although this initially felt a little mean, he is genuinely happier with firmer boundaries and is in love with his little basket in front of the fire. The second thing was breaking the feeding Spike treats by hand habit. Nothing unusual there you might think, but putting treats on the floor means that your dog doesn’t associate food with hands so there should be no pinching lunch out of a toddler’s outstretched mitts. We have also introduced the command “gently” to him, and this has already come in useful on the odd occasion when he’s been a bit too boisterous near my bump.
This next part is going to sound a little crazy. For a dog that’s been the centre of your universe and visa versa, he must get used to seeing you cuddling and carrying around someone other than him, so we were advised to buy a baby doll, carry it around the house and cuddle it whilst playing baby noises however stupid we felt (Andy definitely needed a lot of persuading!!). At first Spike wasn’t at all happy about the doll (as you can see in the picture!)
but over time he got more and more used to it, and now doesn’t even lift his head at the noise. Another great piece of advice we followed was to get the baby equipment (like the pram, moses basket, baby chair etc) out a few weeks early so that by the time the baby arrives none of it is particularly interesting to him any more. He now fastidiously ignores it all!!
And finally (and as our baby is imminently due), we will be asking a family member to pop home before us from the hospital, taking with them a piece of clothing the baby has worn so that Spike can get used to baby’s smell. We plan on going into the house first, and (if possible) someone other than us will carry the baby in afterwards. The thinking behind this is that your dog will be super happy to see you, so you want this first encounter to be a happy and positive one, and one where you can make a fuss of him. And then, when he’s completely calmed down, you can introduce him to his new “sibling”…
This is obviously all advice I have received from an expert, and I really would recommend you seek help from a professional dog trainer if you have any concerns about how your pet will adapt to your new baby. The most important thing to remember though is that however good you think your dog will be with your baby never leave them alone together… We have also invested in a playpen to keep our two separate so I can at least go to the loo or make a cup of tea without one of them having to come with me.
We have one week left to see if all the hard work has paid off, but I know it will have helped, and I am confident our two boys will be firm friends and up to mischief together before we know it!!”
We can’t wait to see some photos of Spike with the new baby Victoria – thank you so much for sharing your story!