There were already three of us in our little family and it was soon to become four. In preparation for Rupert the pug meeting our baby boy Arthur we did a couple of little things to try to make the transition as smooth as possible.
All of the suggestions below are things that have been passed on from friends, family and dog trainers we know, or things we’d read about, as with most things in life what works for one might not for others. It’s worth bearing in mind that Rupert is a trained (in most areas) and very obedient dog so the below wasn’t too challenging for him, which may not be the case for all dogs. He is also a fairly small pug not a heavy great dane, so again every circumstance is different. There are plenty of professional organisations you can visit for help and advice from professional behaviourists, including the Pet Dog Training Instructors https://pdti.org/ and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, http://www.apdt.co.uk/ – both websites list qualified instructors in your area if you are seeking help and advice regarding your dog’s behaviour.
STARTING THE BOND EARLY
I let Rupert snuggle up to my bump as much as possible, there were two reasons for doing this: one so he could feel my bump move and wriggle around in the hope that an early connection would be formed. Reason number two was because he is a VERY cuddly dog, who loves to sit on top of me whenever and wherever he can and I wanted a bit more control over this. It felt right to start creating some little boundaries, as with the baby arriving I knew there would be times when I’d need to be able to sit down with the baby and not have Rupert on top of me as well. With my bump getting bigger Rupert had to start sitting next to me rather than ON me which created that little bit of separation, whilst he still had the comfort of being close by. This may sound like such a small thing, but all the little things did help. It also worked the other way round…by allowing Rupert to still snuggle up beside me meant that when Arthur was in my tummy he heard Rupert sneeze, lick, bark, all within close proximity meaning that when he arrived those noises didn’t even make him flinch (very helpful for when he’s finally fallen asleep and Rupert’s summer allergies kick in and he’s sneezing all over the place!).
We let Rupert into the nursery when we were preparing it to have a good sniff, we didn’t want him to feel like this was a space he wasn’t allowed in (and therefore would have probably been more interested in going in there). So, whenever we went in there, we would invite and encourage him to come in too. Arthur’s room is now a space that Rupert sometimes pops in to and sometimes doesn’t, he can take it or leave it and isn’t really that fussed either way (he’s not allowed there when Arthur is sleeping). Again, this depends on your dog’s existing boundaries within the house, Rupert is allowed upstairs whereas I appreciate other dogs aren’t.
As the baby paraphernalia entered our house, we let Rupert smell everything, clothes, blankets (which we washed after), toys etc so it didn’t feel like ‘forbidden’ objects that would in turn make him more interested in them. Apart from the odd wooden building block, Rupert hasn’t really tried to take any of Arthur’s toys, maybe this is because of what we did before hand, or maybe not, who knows, but as with all things, it’s worth a try!
BRINGING HOME THE SMELL
A really simple thing we did before we brought Arthur home, was bring back a blanket with Arthur’s new born smell on it so Arthurs smell was familiar to Rupert when we finally come home from hospital. When the two met for the first time, Rupert went up to Arthur, had a sniff, then laid beside him. It’s like he knew this new being was ours, part of the family.
Whenever people came to visit Arthur, we always asked that they gave Rupert fuss too, I remember Isobel saying that one of her good friends brought Frank a basket of presents as well as Sophia! it’s little things like this this that make the dogs feel part of the family still and not excluded.
This is obviously just the beginning of Arthur and Rupert’s journey together, but so far so good.