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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dogs and Babies: An Interview with a New Mom

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Helping your dog understand the evolving pack structure when your family adds members is a task that requires forethought and preparation. Bringing a baby into your home is even more challenging for a dog because of the confusing things a baby does. Imagine, from your dog's perspective, the strange little human who cannot yet walk, and makes many odd and annoying noises.

Charlie, Baby Oliver's Pomeranian Housemate
Dogs need our leadership to help them understand that we are still in charge, and all is well. More importantly, giving your dog guidance in terms of rules and boundaries, well before the baby arrives, will help assure that your dog understands the baby's place; he is just another pack leader.
Today I am talking with new mom, Carrie McClain, about how her family has dealt with their recent new baby, after his homecoming:

Boyko) Congratulations on your new addition. My Papillon, Oliver, and I think you picked an awesome name--Oliver!

McClain) Yes! Actually, my Oliver was larger when he was born, than yours is now. He also out-weighed Charlie by a full pound (9 lb., 6 oz.)!

Boyko) Ouch! Can you tell my readers about your dog, Charlie.
McClain) Charlie is our almost 12 year old Pomeranian. He's been mama's baby for a long time!

Boyko) So, when your baby boy was born, how did things change for Charlie?

McClain) He spent a few days with his grammy while we adjusted. That went just fine for him. He loved staying there; it was familiar.

Boyko) When he came home, how did he react to the changes? Did he seem to sense a difference in your demeanor towards him?

McClain) At first he pouted a bit and this interfered with some of his routine, like medicine timing and eating. I think he could tell I was feeling guilty about not spending as much time with him. He's warming up a bit though and now will come to get me if he hears the baby cry. It's very cute.

Boyko) How did you solve the pouting?

McClain) Hubby took Charlie out for daily walks, one on one. That helped him get some attention and the exercise was good for his attitude. I also try to make some time for him myself, so he knows he's still important to me. Even if I just let him take a nap with me, to him that's a big deal.

Boyko) Cesar Millan would like that; hubby maintained his leadership role. Does Oliver get out on walks too?

McClain) Now we all go together.

Boyko) Awesome! One happy pack. Is Charlie behind the baby's stroller?

McClain) Usually one of us "wears" the baby in a Moby wrap while the other walks Charlie. Occasionally I will wear the baby and walk Charlie while B (hubby) is at work. Charlie has always been well-behaved on his walks so we haven't had too much of a problem. If B and Charlie get too far ahead, Charlie will stop and wait until we've caught up. It's usually difficult to even get him out the door unless he's sure I'm with him. He did try to run once but when I used my stern mama voice he immediately stopped. Thankfully! And, I don't let Charlie sit on my lap when the baby is there. I've been very clear about this rule.

Boyko) Has Charlie been given a chance to "greet" Oliver yet?
McClain) We let Charlie smell the baby when both are calm. I've also read about families that will introduce the dog to an item from the baby before the actual baby. We didn't feel this was necessary with Charlie, but it seems like a good idea for a larger or more aggressive dog.

Boyko) Excellent that you focus on "calm" energy for their greetings. You must have read some pack leader books, huh?

McClain) Fortunately, Charlie is a pretty good-natured guy, so I was not too worried for Oliver's safety. We haven't actually read any books, but it seems to me that if you treat your dog with love and respect, that's what you will get in return.

Boyko) I would agree that respect gets respect. All in all, it sounds like the transition is going well.

McClain) It isn't prefect, but it's going alright. I think I might be suffering more than Charlie is. We've tried to make sure he has been put out as little as possible, to avoid jealousy and other problems such as hurt feelings.

Boyko) Thanks for sharing your experience, and good luck with Oliver and Charlie.

McClain) And thank you for the guest post at my blog, Carrie's Kitchen Creations. Who doesn't like homemade organic brownies? Oh, and one last thing. Be sure to stop in and see my new blog: Oh Baby O! where I talk babies, baby stuff and baby care.

Boyko) You got it.

Carrie McClain is the Chief Executive Blogger at Carrie's Kitchen Creations and Oh Baby O! Married to "B" and a busy mother to new baby, Oliver, Carrie also enjoys many forms of fiber arts and plans an Etsy site to sell her goods. Not to be neglected is her first "child", Charlie, an adorable Pomeranian who continues to enjoy napping with Carrie whenever he can.

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Anonymous said...

what a cute baby to find on a dog blog.....

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