So you’ve prepped the house. You are sure the dog is ready to welcome baby. But, soon, you find yourself struggling to make time for Fido. Sure, you can just let them out the back, or do a quick round of the street for potties, but are you still giving them enough attention?
Did you know that most bad behavior that dogs commit is based on energy and emotion? If a dog doesn’t spend enough energy, their emotions get out of control and they act out. A tired dog is a happy dog! So how do you make sure that old Blue is getting enough exercise, fresh air, and love to keep him/her on the straight an narrow? What if you’re a single parent like me?
Let me tell you, the first weeks of Katie’s life were all consuming. I’m endlessly thankful that my dad was there to help walk her. Recovering from a c-section doesn’t allow you to run about the yard playing with the pooch. You will literally be in bed for weeks. It’s insanely painful and exhausting. Remember, you’ve just been sawed in half to extract a tiny human from your abdomen. That’s huge!
If you’re single, be sure that you have called upon your support system to help you out. You’re not satisfactorily healed from a C for six weeks (and being 100% can take a year). Vaginal birth is a little easier as far as recovery time. You should be back to normal within a few weeks. Still, that doesn’t mean you should be out wrestling your fur ball or running them around. Six weeks is a good resting period for vaginal birth mothers, too. Stick to what your doctor recommends. If you have a husband/wife that will help with the dog (and other things), please allow them and don’t feel guilty for asking.
What you can do to make sure your dog is not feeling neglected is to take some time everyday to spend with just them. You can cuddle up on the couch or wherever. Be sure to speak to them as you always have. Pats and treats should all continue as normal as possible. If you can’t get up to see anyone, let alone the dog, see if your partner, friend, or family member can get them into your room to see you. Smaller dogs will be easier than larger, but you’ll know what your body is ready to handle.
Sadie slept on my bed through the pregnancy, and she slept on my bed while I stayed with my mom and dad. That was our time, all two minutes of it. Just kidding! Katie would sleep a couple hours and wake to eat and get changed. Still, I felt like she wasn’t getting enough from me. I had missed her for four days while I was in the hospital. She was so ecstatic to see me, but had to be careful because of my surgery.
From the first day that Katie came home, Sadie has been excited about her. She gives her kisses a lot. However, she’s not so keen on some other children and that gives me pause. What is going on here that is causing her to be grumpy toward babies?
Children have so much energy and their little bodies are still learning how to move and act. Their herky-jerky motions can be triggering to dogs. The loud noises children make can irritate dogs (and your childless friends). Keep in mind that dogs come from wolves and have prey instincts still. They’re 98% genetic matches to wolves. Herky-jerky loud critters ramming about the rooms of their den can be upsetting and trigger a response you don’t expect.
Something I’ve considered is that Sadie may not be getting enough attention. Katie consumes most of my time while she’s awake. When she’s sleeping, I’m sneaking onto the computer to work or making food, showering, cleaning up, etc. You take the time when you get it to get your shit done, because you are now owned by an adorable little time tyrant. For a few weeks, I’ve experimented with sneaking in more cuddles and making a better effort to getting back to me and Sadie’s normal.
You know what’s changed with just a little effort on my part?
- She’s playing with her toys.
- She’s showing more affection.
- She’s listening better to commands.
- She’s still not eating her food in her bowl, because Nonna dropped off left overs and she knows there is better than cereal in that ice box.
Prior to testing Sadie with more of my time and affection, she was getting pretty sulky. Her mood was clearly low. This peach of a pet put up with it, day in and day out. Her position was all but usurped. You could see that painful realization in her big brown eyes. Now, she is not sure that is true, and that is setting her up to succeed in tough situations. (She still kicks up the blankets at the end of the bed where I have a changing station laid out for the baby, but I’ll choose my battles.)
Take my experience and put it to good use. Your dog deserves your continued devotion, despite the changes in your lives. It’s important, because it could prevent a serious escalation. You don’t want your blessed event overshadowed by your best buddy losing their mind and doing something that would either hurt them, you, the child, or all of you.
- Check in with your pooch several times a day. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, but it will be a big deal to them. Pat them on the head. Go out with them, even if it’s just to the yard (pick up the poo immediately instead of letting it rot in the yard, and use that as an excuse to yourself as to why you must be out there).
- Keep as close to your old routine as possible. Things are going to change, but most everything won’t. Becoming a new parent is pretty surreal like that. Dogs like habit.
- Snuggle more. Let them show you affection. Don’t just dote on them. You’ll both be grateful for the bond this forges.
- Always. Always. Always. Be vigilant around pets and children. You can’t always predict a dogs reaction, or the random things children do that might cause a dog to negatively react. (Knowing your dog is super important, because it can help you to read their body language and thus prevent encounters everyone will regret.)
- Make sure pup has their own space, and that you attend to it, as not to make them feel cast away.
- Include them in family events (even if just the small ones). They’ll be reassured that they aren’t out the door, and that they remain a full-fledged member of the pack.
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