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Getting Ready For Baby… Doggie Style

As you know, I am currently a mother of 3 four legged kids- 1 cat and 2 dogs. Up until now these guys have been the focus of our attention and lifestyle. Weekends used to include long hikes on local trails, and vacation locations revolved around dog friendly accommodations. Unfortunately for these guys, that has changed quite a bit already. So as d-day (delivery day) approaches, we are starting to think about how we can make this transition as easy as possible on them. I have come to understand that our pets are aware (more so than we think) as to what is going on inside of me. Due to the fact that they are mammals too, they can sense the hormonal changes occurring as I am progressing through pregnancy. With that being said, we have learned some tips that can help them to alleviate a certain level of stress when we bring Ms. Pepper home.

Our first step was to engage them with our niece as early as possible, and as much as possible… under supervision of course! We have been cautious and observant to notice any aggressive behavior towards her. Luckily for us, although they are cautious, they do not seem to mind her at all. If aggressive behavior was noticed, we would need to be firm on this. Any aggressive behavior needs to be scolded immediately and harshly, to reflect the severity of the situation, as even the smallest of dogs or cats can do quite a bit of harm to your brand new infant. Really the only thing that we have noticed is that they have begun to understand that she drops food a lot. So, now they are much more attentive to what she is up to then they were when she was more of a baby.

We have also begun to familiarize them with baby noises and actions to help to reduce anxiety. If you do not have a baby on call, you can begin to use your baby gadgets, like an infant swing or toys, to help to prepare your four legged kids for the new soundtrack of life. Also, we let them sniff the new stuff we are buying for baby (blankets, diapers, and lotions) as this will help them familiarize the smells sooner than later. To further help with this dynamic, we will have someone bring a blanket or article of Ms. Pepper’s clothing home, after delivery and before we arrive, to help acclimate our pets to her scent.

Now for the harder stuff…the training and new rule setting, which should begin as soon as possible. The longer you can actively train your pets prior to baby, the better chance you are giving them for success! Like us, you may need to set new boundaries within your home as to where your pets are now allowed. As much as I hate to admit it, we are really bad about allowing our pets to rule the roost. There is no such thing as “off limits” when it comes to our couch or bed currently, but that needs to change based on our plans for parenting. We will be co-sleeping with baby, in a Moses Basket in bed, but still do not want the dogs to be jumping up on the bed without permission. So, the painful task of enforcing this new “off the bed” rule has been hard. The key is to be strict ALL the time, and make sure you are both following the same training. Also, we have had to make some adjustments for the cat, Gus, as he likes to curl up and be anywhere that is cozy. I found a helpful trick online which is to put aluminum foil in the crib and on the changing table. Cats do not like this material, and therefore it is training him that these two locations are no go zones.

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We are also trying to prepare our pets for the time constraints we will soon face as a new family. Naturally, we our much busier preparing for baby but I have also not been up for as much “extra” activity as my body gets larger. I know this sounds terrible, but I have learned that it is better for them that this process is gradual versus just cutting them off when baby arrives. Moving more activities over to my husband, like walking the dogs and feeding them, are helping to build a stronger bond between them. This, in turn, should help to redistribute where the attention is likely to come from within the first couple of months with new baby. We also plan to hand new baby over to someone else, when first arriving home from delivery. This will make sure that they do not link our absence directly with baby, which can build resentment or jealousy. I also plan to include them in my postpartum exercise, getting back to daily walks, which will help them to see that they are still important to me!

Also, we have a vet visit scheduled for the end of this month to make sure that they are up to date on all vaccinations. This will, hopefully, alleviate any unnecessary vet visits within the first couple of weeks at home, and ensure that there is no concern with new baby in the home. Last but certainly not least; we are beginning the process of arrangements for our pets when d-day arrives. Luckily for us, we have family nearby, and will be able to leave our pets at home versus boarding them. Because we do not know when this will occur, or for how long we may be gone, we will make sure that we have a couple of back up sitters in the wings too.

Finally, as much anxiety that I personally have about the transition, I keep reminding myself to trust that all will be okay! Although it may take some getting used to, it took my sister’s dog 2 months to even look at my niece, our four legged kids will come around eventually. Diesel & Ms. Finley are now the best of friends!