Y’all already know I’m one of “those” dog moms. I cry when we go out of town and leave Peaches and I feel guilty if I’m gone from home for longer than 3 hours. She is a such a huge part of our family, so naturally when we knew our family was growing I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure it would be a smooth transition. I work from home all day and Peaches is never really without me. If I’m being honest, this pooch is pretty spoiled and likes her mama all to herself!
Peaches was also the best dog during my pregnancy. She stayed on the couch with me all day or night if I was having bad morning sickness and she never left my side. If I got up in the middle of the night to throw up she’d even wake Paul up. The more attentive she got, the guiltier I felt because I never wanted her to think I was replacing her with Maxi. She definitely knew what was going on and it made me love her even more than I thought possible! But, Peaches does have her things she has to work on! She is extremely protective of me and barks if a man or stranger comes up to the house. I feel SO bad for our UPS man. He’s really sweet about it, but each day I have to sheepishly apologize for the barking fiasco. Peaches also wants to greet everyone that comes in our home and scope them out to make sure they are okay. Once she knows a person, she goes overboard on showing them affection…but I knew this might prove difficult with a newborn and constant visitors.
I took a few extra steps and precautions to try to make this as smooth of a transition for Peaches and I couldn’t be happier with how she is doing. In fact, Peaches LOVES Maxi…almost too much. 😉 I’m constantly having to calm down the kisses, otherwise I think Peaches would climb in her bassinet and lick her cheeks all day long. I thought I’d share a few personal photos to show this little love affair we have going on at Hotel Hellman.
[sorry for the poor lighting, these are just quick snaps Paul takes on his phone, but you get the idea! 🙂 ]
We did a session with a dog trainer to help us learn how to best prepare Peaches and get her adjusted before baby! I learned so much so I thought I’d share what we did in case you are wanting to do the same!
Tips to Help Prepare Your Dog for Baby:
1. Quality Time During Pregnancy
I read so many forums during pregnancy where pregnant moms were saying they resented their dogs during their pregnancy. I feel for their situation or whatever was going on to cause that, because if I clung to anything during pregnancy it was ginger ale, Saltines and Peaches. Some websites I researched said to give your dog space during pregnancy so they wouldn’t be so shocked when you ignored them once you had a baby. That route didn’t make sense to me for our home [and seemed a bit harsh] so I did what I thought made most sense for us, I included her in everything! Each time I rested or didn’t feel well, I made sure to grab Peaches and put her in bed with me. I went on daily walks during my pregnancy and would always bring Peaches along. If I was just running up through a drive through like Starbucks, I’d take Peaches in the car, too. Anytime Paul and I went to my parents’ home, Peaches tagged along. In my mind, I wanted us to bond more so that when I did bring Maxi home she would think she was just a new friend to join us.
One of my sorority sisters, Heather, is a dog trainer. I booked a session with her before baby arrived because I wasn’t sure what to do about the barking and wanted tips for introducing baby. She is moving to Oregon, but I’ve included her e-mail if you live in that area and want to hire her! Heather@poochespals.com
This was seriously the best thing we did, because she was able to really tell us what Peaches was thinking by watching our interactions. She told me how I’m Peaches’ master so it’s better that I give her commands over Paul. Heather talked to us about things to do as Maxi gets older. For example, sometimes I’ll sit by her food bowl while she eats and take a few pieces of food out or mess with her tail while she is eating. This way Peaches is used to it, so once Maxi is crawling and starts to do that, Peaches won’t be bothered. I definitely don’t want to give advice in this realm towards your dog, because Heather said this is all dependent upon a dog’s demeanor. Peaches honestly doesn’t care about food enough to get mad if someone takes her food or messes with her while she eats. Whereas, another dog might, so you may want to feed your dog in a different area away from baby. This is just what worked for us! We ended up moving Peaches’ bed away from windows so she wouldn’t see people that come up to our windows. Each time she barks we stop what we are doing and firmly tell her no. These little things worked for Peaches, but different dogs have different responses. If you can, I’d book a session with a dog trainer at least once to see how your dog responds to different things!
Once we were home from the hospital, Paul made sure to take Peaches on daily walks to keep her exercise level up. We all know a tired dog is a good dog! 😉 When dogs get restless that is when they can act up. If someone won’t be home to take your dog on a walk, I’d really recommend a dog walker or asking a neighbor or friend to help. People ask to help a lot once you bring a baby home and sometimes you aren’t sure what to ask for help with. If a friend loves your dog, ask if they would want to take them on a walk for 15 minutes!
4. Keep Her Routine the Same
It can take a few months to get a good routine down with a baby. Babies aren’t predictable and one bad night can throw an entire week off in terms of routine! But we tried to keep Peaches’ life as consistent as possible so she wouldn’t resent the change. For example, once I was pregnant, Peaches started to sleep in bed with us. There are plenty of nights now that I’ll be up all night breastfeeding and Peaches is on my lap and I’ve got burp rags everywhere. Paul will say, “Do you want me to put Peaches in her bed?” Realistically, that would probably make things easier. But I always keep her in bed with us because it truly doesn’t bother me and that’s part of her routine! Another routine is whenever my mom comes over she always holds Peaches. Peaches loves my mom and so before baby she did that as well. Now when my mom comes over, my mom makes sure to hold Peaches for at least 10 minutes and love on her before holding Maxi. There really hasn’t been any jealousy shown from Peaches and so I’m hoping a lot of it is because we haven’t just tossed her routine to the side, as that wouldn’t be fair to her.
5. Get Her Accustom To Her Bed
Another thing Heather did, was really enforce how much Peaches should love her bed. If she was barking or baby was fussy and we told her to go to her bed, we didn’t want that to appear as a punishment. Peaches has her dog bed and then her “crate bed” and she loves both! For her crate bed, I got her all new blankets, washed them and made it as comfortable as possible. She’s always loved her crate and felt safe in it, but I tried to make it extra special for her now. With her dog bed in the living room, we got her a new comfortable one before baby and filled it with new dog toys. She is still going through the new toys and loves it. At the end of my pregnancy, I really practiced with her, “Go to your bed!” She’d find a new toy or a new treat hiding there and she loved it. Now, I didn’t do it each time I sent her to her bed because I didn’t want her to just think she’d get a treat by going to her bed. However, this got her more accustom to the command and now if Maxi is crying, a visitor is over and the doorbell is ringing I can say, “Go to your bed!” and things get a little more calm.
6. Treats & Toys
Now speaking of treats and toys, we made sure to stock up on new treats and toys before Maxi arrived. We went to Homegoods the week of my due date because they always have inexpensive toys. We bought 8 or so and each week we’ve been able to introduce her to a new one. We also mix up her treats which she get so excited about! I wanted her to feel like she was getting extra attention in this time too since she would probably get confused why all these new exciting people were coming over and not to meet her.
I was most nervous about introducing Peaches to Maxi. When my water broke, we called our best friend Austin to come get her and Austin was so great! He took care of her and she drove around all day with him in his truck. Austin kept sending us photos of Peaches that day and they were having a blast! When we got home from the hospital, I had Paul go pick her up and bring Maxi’s baby blanket with him. He let Peaches lay with it and sniff it for a bit so she would know Maxi’s scent. Peaches came home and my mom was holding Maxi so I was able to love on Peaches a lot! I held her and gave her a bunch of cuddles, but Peaches wanted none of that! She was eying Maxi and so fascinated. I’ll be honest, at that point my stomach dropped. I was so nervous Peaches would start barking or get aggressive. Instead, Peaches sniffed her and was so interested. The first few days she would get closer and closer and by day 3, Peaches thought Maxi was her baby!
Since the introduction went well, I make sure to “invite” Peaches to do everything. Anytime I go to change Maxi’s diaper I say, “Come on, Peaches!” I do the same when I go to feed her or change her. Peaches lays by her changing table and just looks up while I change her. Who knows what Peaches thinks when I invite her to do everything, but I hope she thinks it means we need her around, since we do! 🙂
I know everyone has different transitioning stories and every dog reacts different to a big life change. This is just what worked for us and I hope a few tips can help you if you are in the same boat!