I got a call from a client yesterday. Their baby is 10 days old, and their dog Rocky is not adjusting well. The couple came to a Dogs & Storks session in November where we talked about all sorts of things they could do to help prepare their easily excitable terrier for the new baby. Some of my suggestions were teaching the dog to respond to verbal cues (eliminating any body language), preparing a place where the dog could be comfortable and happy away from the baby, and teaching Rocky that he can’t demand their attention whenever he wants it (which he’s been happily doing for 2 years).
But I don’t think they did any of those things.
When they sit on the couch with the baby, Rocky barks at them. When they carry the baby, Rocky jumps up in a frenzy. And when the baby is in the playpen, Rocky barks and scratches at the sides. They are frustrated and very worried.
Although Rocky has pretty good obedience in a group class setting when both owners are focused on him and prepared with treats, he isn’t listening now. They are unable to isolate Rocky in a crate or another room because he will bark nonstop, and it drives them crazy.
Addressing Rocky’s issues will be harder now that their baby has arrived. I wish they’d worked more with Rocky before their baby arrived. Now, instead of grabbing a short nap while their new baby sleeps, Rocky’s owners are practicing new skills with him.
I know expectant parents have a million things to do and it’s easy to let preparing the dog slide, but please don’t. Taking the time to prepare your dog in advance will make your first few months of parenthood so much easier.
Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC, is the author of Living with Kids and Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind. Colleen has more than 17 years’ experience as the go-to person for parents trying to navigate kid-and-dog issues. Because a knowledgeable adult can improve every interaction between a child and a dog, Colleen is committed to educating parents, children, and dog owners on kid-and-dog relationships. Colleen is also a Dogs & Storks® presenter.