This final installment talks about introducing your pup to your new baby. Pepper adjusted to her new sibling due to careful research and considerations from mum Elaine.
So we have reached the finale of the Pepper and Minnie blog, for now at least. I’ve opted to sit at the dining table this time in an effort to be more comfortable than when I wrote part II - and I’m not lonely because I have the two wee stinkers sitting patiently at my feet watching my every move.
Pepper turned my husband and I into three, and without us knowing it was great training for the next big change in our life.
We started learning the importance of consistency in discipline, being particular about the food your ‘baby’ eats, how you cannot simply leave the house without organising a ‘babysitter’ or checking ahead to make sure your venue is dog friendly, toilet training, making time for fun and play - the list could go on and on! So if you have raised / trained a pup from a young age you have a pretty solid start for letting two legged terrors increase your family if that is part of your future plan.
A Dog's sense
Dogs are very intuitive and I think their protective nature drives them to observe your every move to understand not only what is happening in their home but what is about to happen before it actually does. Very early in my pregnancy, Pepper knew there was something going on – she used to lie over my stomach every night until the time arrived to go to the hospital.
This was ok at the beginning, but as the months passed my daughter didn’t find it funny to have a 6.5kg dog lie on top of her and I was caught in the middle of the kicking! Of course Pepper didn’t know what was coming, but she knew there was something different. Little did she know that her life was about to change, change dramatically.
When Pepper met.... Baby!
Without doubt, there is a lot of advice in books, online, family, friends etc on how to introduce your dog(s) to a baby. The following is what I did and it worked for me; you know your dog better than anyone else so you will be able to decide what will work best in your circumstance. The important thing to remember is, you are introducing the most vulnerable little bundle into your home and no matter how much you trust your four legged companion you must always err on the side of caution, monitoring their every move.
When my first daughter was born, I sent her babygrows home with my husband every night until I left the hospital. Each night my husband put the babygrow, with my daughter’s scent, into Pepper’s bed. When we arrived home as three and not the usual two, my husband brought Pepper outside where she nearly collapsed with excitement as she had not seen me for five days.
When she eventually calmed down - with all four paws on the ground - I introduced her to our new addition to the family. After cautious nosing and sniffing we were ready to go inside. I followed my husband carrying my daughter in her car seat towards the house, and last into the house was poor Pepper, to signal she had slid one position down the ranks in our household.
I trusted Pepper implicitly, but I still erred on the side of caution and made sure that my new baby daughter and Pepper were not left in a room on their own – just in case jealously overcame Pepper. After the initial early weeks, it became clear that Pepper had developed the same protective instinct for our new family addition as she had for me and my husband. One night, Pepper decided that her new bed was on the floor under the moses basket, and whenever the baby napped, she did too.
I was never alone at feeding time, winding after feeding time (do you know how difficult it is to wind a wobbly baby on one shoulder and have a miniature doxie climbing up on your other shoulder), nappy changing time, bath time – never alone, my constant companion helping to look after baby.
Tips for introducing your dog to your baby
The below list is not exhaustive, I am not claiming all these steps must be followed or will work in your situation but hopefully it will help you through another milestone in your home:
- Decide and prepare where your baby’s moses basket/cot is going to be – somewhere secure from your pup
- Make changes to your dog’s routine before the baby arrives home so the baby doesn’t get the blame – where the dog sleeps, consider walking times, some people even go as far to introduce a pram on walkies before baby arrives home
- As much as it will distress you, lessen attention and time spent with your pup
- Send home an item of clothing/blanket from the hospital so your dog can get used to the baby’s scent
- On arrival home, say hello to your trusted friend on your own so your dog does not jump on the baby from excitement
- Introduce your pup to your baby outside
- On entering the house, the dog should be the last through the door, as an indication of their position within the family
- Let your dog get used to your baby’s smell and sound for a few days
- Play with your dog loads in the presence of your baby so good things happen when baby is there as opposed to not there.
This undoubtedly will be one of the most stressful (or maybe that was just me) and busiest times of your life – remember your pup will want to know they are still loved and still play an important part of the family. Back to what I said at the beginning, dogs are very intuitive and probably know your routines better than you – include them in the new family routine and don’t forget to make some time for walkies and play.
What about Minnie?!
As I near the end poor Minnie has not had a mention yet. That’s because Minnie wasn’t a part of our family when my first daughter was born. In fact before Minnie joined, we added a second daughter to our family.
When I think about it now, there may be evidence to support the notion that I am loosing my mind! My second daughter was born in January and Minnie was brought home in October of the same year. One dog, one 3 year old and one 9 month old baby – why not add a 10 week old puppy into the mix?
Well I’m sure the answers humouring you now are numerous but regardless, we have no regrets – I could admit Minnie is not as well trained as Pepper – but I like to look at it from another view: Pepper is so well trained and behaved that she shows up our cheeky little Minnie.
Taking a serious moment, which is applicable here in this context but also in other situations – when you are considering adding a dog to your home make sure you have ample time for training to keep your dog safe and for play and fun for a physically and mentally healthy dog.
Farewell - until next time!
Pepper, Minnie and Elaine