Until December came, Myles and Rudy were the center of our universe. We
were are crazy dog people. Our dogs are spoiled. They sleep with us. Cuddle with us. Okay, let’s face it, they ruled the roost. And until about 2 months before Eddie’s arrival I hadn’t given any thoughts to how the dogs would handle our new addition.
Honestly, we were both concerned about how Rudy would react. He loves human contact and we haven’t set boundaries with him. You’d often find him on my lap begging to snuggle and I always obliged. Would he try to do that when I was holding Eddie? Would he get jealous and aggressive with Eddie? The only glimmer of hope that I had was that he often cuddled with my bump. Myles probably didn’t even realize I was pregnant, but I really think Rudy knew.
I am not an expert, by any means, but there were six “big” things we did to help prepare them.
I purchased a book: Tell Your Dog You’re Pregnant: An Essential Guide for Dog Owners Who Are Expecting a Baby. I first saw this on a blog that I follow. Honestly? I didn’t read it in its entirety, but it did get me thinking about actively preparing our pups. It came with a digital download of babies crying, but I didn’t use it.
I sought advice from our veterinarian. Our dogs went in for their yearly checkups mid-November. She offered additional advice on how to get Rudy and Myles used to the idea of a baby. She and her husband recently had a baby of their own. They bought a doll and played soundtracks of crying babies. She said that they would give the doll attention and “ignore” the dogs for periods of time.
We kept things the same. Based on what I read and what the vet told me, I knew that it was important to not give the dogs extra attention. Many times, people go above and beyond the months before delivery. It isn’t a good idea. Here’s why: your dogs will get used to the extra treats and extra walks and when baby arrives those things will significantly decrease. That contributes to feelings of jealousy. We worked hard to keep things “normal.” Since Eddie’s arrival, things have changed a bit, but the change hasn’t been as noticeable as it would have been had we given them “extra” attention to try to make up for what was about to come.
I played tracks of crying babies periodically. Downloading the files that came with the book seemed like too much work for this exhausted mama, so I YouTubed tracks of crying babies. The dogs weren’t overly phased by it. Honestly, I think it stressed me out more than it did them!
The nursery wasn’t off limits. The dogs were welcome to come and go from that room as they pleased. We knew Eddie would be exposed to their dander and hair from day one, so it wasn’t a priority to keep the nursery spotless. It helped them adjust to all of the new furniture and baby contraptions. I wanted them to know they were welcome in the room.
We exposed them to Eddie’s scent. Craig brought Eddie’s blanket home during our hospital stay. It smelled of baby! That way, when a foreign, squirming, screaming human came home, they were at least familiar with his scent.
I’m happy to report that the dogs have transitioned beautifully! Within minutes of our arrival home, Rudy became very possessive of Eddie. He sat by my feet and snapped at Myles anytime he got too near. Okay, that wasn’t beautiful, but it only lasted a couple days.
In the days since, Rudy has become pretty disinterested. He’ll come check on Eddie when he really gets crying. But, otherwise he keeps his distance. And the minute Eddie goes to bed, Rudy emerges looking for his snuggles and cuddles.
Myles hates when Eddie cries. He immediately gets wound up, running between wherever we are and where Eddie is. It’s like he’s telling us, “Eddie needs you, move it!” Myles has a bad habit of licking Eddie’s hands and/or face when he is in his swing. I hate it. Honestly, it makes me nervous that he’s that comfortable with Eddie. I know dogs are animals and while I completely trust both of our boys with the baby, I have heard one too many stories of “good” dogs turning. Myles gets scolded when he invades Eddie’s space like that, but on the inside, I can’t help but think it’s sweet. Eddie is Myles’ little pup.
It’s also important to mention that we have really made a conscious effort to love on our pups. Do they get just as much attention as they did pre-Eddie? Truthfully – probably not. But, they certainly aren’t neglected. Though we took steps to prepare them, I also think what we’ve done since Eddie has been home has also made an impact on their behavior. They still feel secure and very loved.
I can’t say which of the six worked and what didn’t. Maybe all of it was vital to the success we’ve had thus far. Maybe some helped more than others; maybe none of it made a difference and our dogs just readily accepted change. Frankly, the most important thing is that we’ve successfully transitioned from a family of four to a family of five. It will continue to be a work in progress, no doubt, as Edison becomes mobile and more independent, but for the time being, life is grand.