Over the last two weeks this little guy has become quite the velcro pup. I wondered if this time would come, if he’d begin to pick up on the fact that big changes are about come our way in imminent future. People talk of their pups picking up on pregnancy from very early on, but honestly I think Alfie has been pretty much oblivious up until now (apart from his annoyance at my moving tummy when he comes for a cuddle!). He’s very much part of our family, and so when it comes to preparing for our little one’s arrival, we have to consider just how much it will impact him too and try and get him ready for that. We’re putting the following things into place to make sure the transition is as stress free for him as possible.
Routine, Routine, Routine!
Before I started maternity leave, we had quite a set morning routine where we’d both be out of the house by 7.30 and walk around to my Mum’s house where he would stay while I was at work. Most mornings he would be up and waiting by the front door before I could even open my eyes and while I am sure baby is going to make sure his early mornings are still maintained, I can’t really see us having such an early morning walk after a sleepless night. Since I started maternity leave two weeks ago, Sean’s work hours have also changed, which means instead of those wanders back and forth to my Mum’s each day, he takes him for a big two hour walk in the late afternoon. So far, he’s made the adjustment quite well and actually I’m finding myself having to wake him up later and later through the day as he’s become quite the snoozer! I’d like to think that once baby is here and if we’ve been home throughout the day we will join them and get out of the house ourselves too.
Creating Dog & Baby Free Zones
Alfie has pretty much ruled the roost for the eight months that we’ve lived here. We are very much of the opinion that dogs are and should be viewed as part of the family and so this house is as much his as it is ours. However, when baby comes along it’s important to us that we set some boundaries for both her & Alfie. Now that the nursery is finished and ready, it is officially an Alfie free zone. We want to be able to know that she can lay & play in there without being interrupted by our four legged friend as well as avoiding any muddy paw prints or temptation for him to take ownership of any of her toys. As we’ve set this boundary up fairly early on, he takes little to no interest in going in there even when I’m in there to potter about or just sit for a while so it won’t come as too much of a shock to him when she arrives. We will also be putting a safety gate up at the bottom of the stairs and the living room door for when baby is at play downstairs or we start weaning.
Our conservatory will also be a bit of a baby free zone throughout the day to ensure Alfie has his own place to escape the cries of a newborn or the clutches of little hands. We’ve put a bed and a box of toys out there ready and he’ll have access to the garden through here too.
Introducing new surroundings way in advance
You will have probably guessed if you follow me that I have tried to be as organised as possible from fairly early on. This means that I’ve purchased and put up most of the big baby items around the house already including her moses basket & swing in our living room and the snuzpod in our bedroom. These have always been off limits to Alfie from the moment they arrived in our home and so while I’m sure his interest in them will peak once there is a teeny person in them, it won’t come as too much as shock to him when he is told to ‘leave’ when she comes home.
Introducing other children
While I am friends with a lot of parents, before I fell pregnant Alfie had hardly ever been in contact with a small child or baby. Over the last eight months, we’ve had lots of visits from our friends and their little boy who turned one in December and while they do get fed up with eachother every now and then, they have struck up quite the friendship. If ever it all gets a bit too exciting, Alfie is put out of the room for ten minutes and then is let back in. I’ve been working a lot on using the ‘Away’ command as well to let him know he needs to step back a little and give Joshua a bit more space. I’m hoping this will have helped set the foundations in place for a good relationship between him & baby.
Offer lots of distraction
We have invested in plenty of toys to keep Alfie entertained while we’re busy with the baby. Wilko’s and poundland offer a wide variety of dog toys & treats for next to nothing so it’s not bee a massive outlay financially. We’ve signed up to DoggTreats subscription service which is a box of goodies for him each month including more toys & treats. Visitors will likely provide quite the distraction too and while we know they will be coming to meet the baby, we’ll be asking them to make a fuss of him as they normally would so he doesn’t feel left out.
The big introduction
Our plan for the all important first meeting between Alfie & the baby has been set for some time. Sean will return home from the hospital once baby and I have had the all clear from the doctor and take with him an item of clothing and a blanket that she has been wrapped in. He will invite Alfie to sniff it from a distance as well as placing it within reach and telling him to ‘leave’. This will be the first time Alfie will get a whiff of her scent and so when she eventually comes home, it won’t be unfamiliar to him. Sean is also going to take him for a long walk before coming back to the hospital to bring us home so that he isn’t so energetic. I will unlock the house and go in first to make a big fuss of him and then lead him out to the car where Sean will be unloading the baby and we’ll all walk in together. Baby will be placed in the living room in her car seat and Alfie will be invited to come and sniff baby with Sean or I on close guard while being constantly rewarded for respecting the boundaries – not licking, or getting too close for comfort!
What steps did you take to ensure your pup was prepared for the arrival of your baby? I’d love to know any hints and tips!
*Image credit Alison Lewis Photography. You can find other photographs from our maternity photo shoot here.