My Husband and I spent a lot of time preparing to become parents. We prepped our home by designing Donovan’s nursery, our skill by taking classes through the hospital and our minds by reading many books about being parents and taking care of a newborn. We were so busy prepping ourselves that we forgot about prepping our “first” baby, our dog, Bowie. Named after the late singer/songwriter, David Bowie (one of our favorite artists), Bowie has always been a great and well-behaved dog but even good pets can be unpredictable and we didn’t really know what we had in store or what to expect. I started researching and came across horror stories; pets turning on the baby or becoming jealous and hating the baby which eventually resulted in the owners making the hard decision of finding a new home for the pet. I started to freak out a little and began looking up ways to prepare Bowie for the baby. I took to the web and developed my own plan to prepare Bowie for his new “Baby Brother.”
- Make Rules
- It was important for us to set up rules that we would agree on as a couple when it came to Bowie. We decided to make a rule with all of our guests coming to see the baby. The rule was that when they came into the house, they needed to first acknowledge Bowie and give him attention to avoid any jealousy, then proceed to visit and hold or address the baby.
- We also made a rule that when it came to taking Bowie on walks and feeding, that it would be my Husband’s responsibility, to make it easier on me. This would also provide consistency to his routine and avoid him becoming resentful when I was preoccupied with the baby.
- Lastly, we said, that we each would allocate time to spend with him throughout the day. Whether it was 2 minutes, 10 or 30, we would give Bowie direct attention. We call it “Bowie Time!” We wanted Bowie to still know that he is important and a huge part of the family.
- Introduction to Baby
- Bowie stayed with my parents while we were in the hospital. On the day we were planning on coming home, I had my Mom drive up ahead of time to bring Bowie back to the house. It was important for us to bring the baby into the house with Bowie already in it, so Bowie still felt like it was his domain. Before we came in the house, we gave my Mom a blanket that Donovan was laying on in the hospital to give to Bowie to smell. I read that scent is very important to a dog and when introducing a baby to the household, is central to how the dog will feel moving forward. Before we entered the house, we had to decide who would walk in first and who would follow afterwards holding the baby. In doing my research, multiple sources indicated that the person who the dog favors more should be the one who enters the house first without the baby. This allows normalcy and one-on-one time with their pet and to hold them when the baby enters the house. I entered the house first and spent a few moments with Bowie. I picked him up as my Husband entered the house with the baby. Bowie was very apprehensive at first, giving a couple of whines, and some mild growls but we slowly set down the car seat to show Bowie the baby and allow him to recognize the scent, guarding his distance as much as possible slowly allowing him more access. I read that it was important to remember, that as much as we love our pets, they are still animals and have that animal instinct. After about 5 minutes, Bowie lowered his guard and even showed a little excitement at meeting the new “human” in the house.
- Be Purposeful About Making Time
- As part of the rules, we needed to make our “Bowie time” which could have been 2 minutes or an hour. Being purposeful about this was extremely important because as being parents in general, our attention gets taken away quickly and before you know it, it is the end of the day and you realize that your dog has been alone or neglected all day long.
- Bark Collar
- Bowie is a barker! As much as we tried to train him prior to the baby being born, he is still a big mouth! (LOL). As I started to worry about Bowie barking when company came to visit Donovan, I researched again! I took to Google and searched what to do if your dog barks non-stop at your visitors. One of the forums I saw mentioned something about a humane bark collar. It is a collar that beeps at the pet when he barks, eventually giving a vibration after so many times. It eventually trains him to stop barking. I went on Amazon and purchased the collar and now I SWEAR by it! Bowie really reacts well to this training piece and we only put it on him when we know someone is coming over.
- The Bark Collar that I used was this one: Bark Collar.
- I would recommend adding it to your Amazon Baby Registry!
- We wanted to actually set up training with Bowie through a school or our local pet store, but we were on a budget and decided to attempt training him on our own. We looked up YouTube videos of how to train your dog to sit, stay, speak, etc. We didn’t succeed on making him 100% trained, but we trained enough of the basics to help once the baby was born. Bowie isn’t going to be in any dog shows soon, but we accomplished the basic training essentials for a dog! This really made it easier for us, when the baby came and we ran out of patience to also deal with a disobedient dog.
The results were that Bowie actually took a very positive approach to the baby. HE LOVES Donovan and it almost seems as if he thinks Donovan is HIS baby. I always like to think that our pets, perhaps dogs more specifically, think we are in a little wolf pack and love and protect the pack. When Donovan is in the bassinet and crying, Bowie jumps up on our bed to look down at him to make sure he is okay. If I am feeding the baby, Bowie is right there next to me, almost as if he is protecting us and keeping a “lookout.” There was a moment when the baby dropped his pacifier when he was laying on the bed and Bowie nudged it closer to him, as if he was trying to get it back in his mouth. I feel very fortunate that Bowie really has adapted well to the baby. I cannot guarantee that all these steps will work 100% of the time, but I know they worked for us!
Feel free to comment back if you, friends or family have found additional ways to assist with preparing a pet on a new baby’s arrival!
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