When we found out that we would be welcoming a human baby into our pack, we were elated. But like all good dog owners, we were initially worried about how our three Weim girl (ages 3, 6, and 12) would welcome him. Horror stories abound and rescues are full because people give their fur kids up when a human kid makes an appearance.
Being hooked on the breed, we set out to assure that our dogs would remain ours and that it would be a smooth transition from a dog-centered to a dog-and-baby centered home.
A bit about my pack. They are obedience school flunkies, thieves, counter-surfers, and too smart for their own good. Our furniture is their version of a playground, and it’s a constant struggle to keep dirty dishes actually in the sink. Bread is in the microwave, trash can behind locked doors, and they can de-stuff any toy in seconds. They drag me to the car and jump all over visitors. Cesar would probably have a stroke if he came to my house — the dogs are definitely in charge. And they know it!
So we had a lot of work to do before our kid arrived.
I was chiefly concerned about them respecting the baby’s space and his things. Diaper eating, anyone? Not to mention getting trampled and licked to death.
Here’s how we prepared:
- Good old fashioned obedience. As mentioned, my dogs are free spirits. We built a solid sit-stay from the ground up, starting small and adding distance, distractions, and duration. Treats helped!
- Resumed crate-training. Our dogs aren’t puppies anymore, but that doesn’t mean that they always get free roam. Even the “senior” dog was rehabbed to enjoy her crate. We fed them there and gave them goodies just like they were pups. Now when dinnertime rolls around, they are all three found peeking out of their crates—the clanging of their metal bowls is enough to send them scurrying to their respective places.
- Re-taught “Place,” or a “go to your bed” command. This was super helpful for when visitors came to see the new baby. The dogs thought they were here for them, though!
- Reinforced a “leave it” command and proofed it thoroughly.
- Reinstated “wait” and “no pull” commands. Then we worked on walking on-lead with two at a time—something I’ve never been good at. Extra pregnancy weight helped though!
With all this in place, all that remained was for our kid to come home. I was delighted at what happened! All three of them were respectful and protective of our new baby. They would gently clean his ears and bathe his feet. They would come bark at me if he cried for more than a few seconds. They alerted me to poopy diapers with a sniff and a whine. They really didn’t touch his things other than showing a passing interest and a little lick, almost as if to confirm that those were his toys, not theirs. They didn’t raid diapers (okay, one time they did!), and they performed maternal duties like “cleaning” his dirty laundry. They honestly treated him like their puppy! They didn’t jump on him or on me when I was carrying him (which is pretty much always).
They still steal dishes and maul visitors with kisses when they come over. But some things just aren’t fixable! 🙂