My parents are expecting their first baby this summer. You know, the human kind. They are both super excited but they seem nervous about how I am going to react. I am their first baby, after all :). I like children a lot, they are fun to play with and they are squishy, like me :). Do you have any advice as to how I can prepare for this new arrival? I don’t want to be jealous or snippy. I think it would make my parents feel better if there were some dos and don’ts they could follow so we can all co-exist together.
Shelly the Sharpei
Dear Shelly the Sharpei,
Congratulations! Human babies are great. I have recently become a big brother to my slightly less furry sibling, Pierce, I can tell you that it is absolutely possible for you and the new baby to live happily and safely together, once he or she arrives :). Here are a few suggestions to help prepare your parents for your pending big sisterhood:
- Establish and Maintain Our Routine – I don’t want to discourage them from lavishing you with special treats and toys because we totally love that part of their anxiety 🙂 However, it is more important that they don’t ignore us and that they stick to the routine they have pre-baby. Whatever our walking or feeding schedule is, our parents should maintain it as much as possible.
- First Impressions Are Important – We/Dogs pick up on everything. We are very intuitive 🙂 If your parents are nervous about the introduction to the new baby, we will pick up on it and probably mirror their anxiety. They should be calm. They should leash you up so they can better control your excitement reactions, like jumping. We want to immediately get to the sniffing but make sure it’s at a safe distance the first time, then your parents can slowly start bringing the baby closer once they’re comfortable with our body language.
- Claim your baby’s scent. Your parents can help you out by bringing home an item that contains the new baby’s scent, such as a hospital blanket, before the baby comes home. During this exercise, it is crucial that your parents set clear boundaries. They can challenge us (the dog) to sniff the blanket from a distance, this will communicate to us that the item is their’s and they are giving us permission to sniff it. This shows us (the dog) that this new item belongs to them and that we will need to follow their rules when around it. This helps start the process of creating respect for the baby. As dogs, we like routine and guidance, and this helped me when my baby sister came home.
- Your parents should also start teaching the human puppy to be gentle with you too! When the baby gets older, he/she will get curious and it’s important for your parents to teach gentle petting and boundaries.
- Last but not least- your parents should do the best they can to show you lots of affection! Even though your parents are super busy with the new addition, there is enough love to go around. They should set aside time for belly rubs, private walks without the baby (if possible), and playtime!
- Check out the ASPCA’s guide to introducing you dog to a new baby for more info!