As the end of my pregnancy draws near, there are many things that are starting to worry me. One of these things is our five year old Chocolate Lab, Buddy.
Buddy is an energetic, attention seeking lab. This energy is great when he is out hunting because he can go on forever, however when it is offseason, this energy needs to be burned elsewhere. We take him for walks, we take him to the dog park, or sometimes we just throw a tennis ball in the backyard.
Buddy also needs to be the center of attention. Ever since he was born, he has gotten our full attention and insists on being with us. Whether it is lying on the kitchen floor when I’m cooking or curling up next to us on the couch, he just has to be near us. So, as you can see, I am starting to get worried about bringing home this bundle of joy. This baby is going to require all of our attention and Buddy won’t be getting nearly as much attention as he is used to.
My husband and I have been doing lots of research on how to help with this big transition. We have read a few articles, some books and even went to a class! There are many things we have already done or are going to try to do to make this transition easier for Buddy.
Giving him less attention: We have been trying to gradually decrease the attention Buddy receives every day.
- We keep him in his kennel a little longer when we get home instead of letting him out right away.
- We don’t let him up on the couch with us when we are watching T.V.
- We encourage him to play with his toys by himself.
Training him not to jump on guests: This has been a problem whenever someone comes over to our house. Buddy loves to give kisses and he always thinks it has to be on the face. Obviously, this is not going to work when Tyler and I are carrying in our baby.
- We have practiced Buddy staying down multiple times when we come home. We have him sit and stay as one of us comes through the door. We then reward him if he stays down.
- We bought a treat jar to keep by the door so when we do come home and he stays down, we give him a treat.
- We plan on practicing this more when guests come to the house. He has done a pretty good job with not jumping on us anymore, but it is still something we need to continue to work on with others.
Play House: This is something we have read a lot about and want to try.
- Practice life with a doll. Hold the baby, dress it, rock it, etc. and when your dog is behaving well around the baby, reward it.
- Add a stroller to your walk. Include baby scent items like baby powder and diapers so your dog gets used to this scent on the walk.
Bring home baby items from hospital: This is probably the most important step in the transition.
- Bring home a blanket or cap that baby has been wrapped in or has worn before bringing home the baby. Have dog sniff item to get familiar with the scent so when you do bring home the baby, he remembers the scent.
- When coming home, have the mom enter the house alone to greet the dog. Your dog has not seen mom in a few days so it is important to greet each other before bringing in the baby to decrease excessive excitement.
- Then have the dad and baby come in the house. Encourage your dog to be calm, but allow it to sniff baby to recall it’s scent.
Obviously there are still things we still want to try and we have a long way to go. We believe in Buddy and know he is going to be a great family dog! If you would like more information, I would suggest reading How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves by Dr. Sophia Yin.