My friends and family know that while this little girl in my tummy is my first human baby, my real first baby is my seven year old half pug, half Boston Terrier named Rico. I adopted Rico when he was 12 weeks old, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. He’s the ultimate mama’s boy (although he’s really loving his dad lately) and I truly can’t imagine my life without him. I’m so excited to see him with his new baby sister, but am also a little nervous about how he’ll handle not being the center of my world. He’s also only been around children on rare occasions, and certainly hasn’t interacted at all with a newborn. Here are a few things we’ve done/are planning to do to prepare him:
- Learn from the experts. We will be delivering at Shawnee Mission Medical Center*, and are taking full advantage of all the birth and child preparation classes they offer. Our first class was Babies Don’t Bark, which is all about introducing your new baby and your fur baby. I would highly recommend the class, which is very comprehensive. We won’t be implementing everything they suggested, but I appreciated all the information and the handout that I can reference later as needed!
- Baby-ize your home. While I was planning to relish the last few months of not having baby supplies all over my house, a tip we learned in class was that the equipment and supplies can be more for your dog to get used to than the baby itself! We already set up our 4Moms mamaRoo in the living room and turn it on every few days, and while he was initially curious, Rico is already ignoring it. I’m planning to do the same with the activity playmat and toys over the next few months.
- Practice with a doll. Another tip from class – something that can freak your dog out is the fact that your posture changes while you’re holding a baby. It makes sense – you’re lifting and moving something like you’ve never done before. Get a semi-realistic doll and carry it around your house, wrap it in a blanket, lay it on the changing table. You can also place the doll in some of the equipment so it makes it even more realistic! I haven’t carried ours around yet but did order one, and it’s currently residing in the mamaRoo.
- Let them growl. Rico is a good dog by most accounts (spoiled, but good), but he does have an attitude when it comes to toys and food. He will growl at us if we mess with him when he’s enjoying either of these things or if we disturb his highness when he’s sleeping. The trainer from our class informed us that we were wrong to discipline him when he growls. The growl is the only warning you get before a bite, and you don’t want your dog to stop giving that warning. The growl gives you time to separate dog and baby if needed and warns baby to stop whatever might be disturbing your pup.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a few of the most important things I took from our class and things we’re currently implementing in our home. I’ll do a ‘Part 2’ to this post once Rico and baby girl have spent some time together and will let you know how everything is working! I really am so excited to see them together and am hopeful he’ll be as sweet to his new baby sister as he’s been to his mama over the last few years.
*Full disclosure, I work in Marketing for Shawnee Mission Health. But Shawnee Mission Medical Center is also the closest hospital to my home and where I planned on eventually having babies well before I worked there. After learning more about the Birth Center and getting to know some of the staff over the last two years, I’m confident that it will be the best place for me.