How will our dog cope with the new arrival in our lives? And what are we already doing to make the transition work?
For the last 8 and a half years we’ve been the proud parents of a devious little terror called Mario. He’s a jack russell we rescued from a local dog shelter when he was two years old, with a catalogue of previous owners and past problems. And he’s been very hard work!
For the first couple of years he ran us ragged, stealing everything from socks and shoes to PlayStation games and even cash, but he’s also been the best little companion I could have ever hoped for. We’ve climbed mountains, canoed down rivers, slept in tents, swum in lakes, battled through snow and generally enjoyed every kind of outdoor adventure possible together. He’s my best little mate and has always been treated like one of the family.
Only problem is he can be quite territorial and needs a lot of attention. What we don’t want to do is introduce a baby into our household and for him to become jealous and disruptive, so we’ve already started taking steps to help him adjust. We’re still around seven weeks (yikes!) from the due date, but we’ve now stopped him going upstairs in the house, which is something he’s always done in the past, and created two little areas in the house where he likes being and feels comfortable. One bed in the utility room and one in the living room by the sofa (both by warm radiators with treat jars above), where he can still be close to us but with his own space.
He’s taken to the new routine really well and I’m very confident he’ll be fine when the baby arrives. I’ve read a lot about this subject (including the great little book Tell your dog you’re pregnant, which comes with a free baby sounds CD to test your dog’s reactions) and it seems the best advice is to make sure the dog always feels involved. Tips like when you’re changing the baby, send him to his bed and give him a treat. Great advice, because he’ll then associate baby changing with treats. It seems as though little steps like that will make a huge difference, so we’re going to be extra vigilant to make sure we quickly become a perfectly functioning foursome.
But most of all I’m adamant that I won’t neglect Mario or break his routine. I’ll still walk him three times a day, still take him walking, running, cycling and canoeing with me. He’ll still be my best little outdoor buddy for a long time to come.