Hey nerds, (can I call you nerds? I mean it in a totally *high five, slap ya on the back, kick ya in the knees funny kinda way*)
As most of you know, I am a wife, mom, and dog owner. Melvin is my trusty steed and protector of all that is right in this house. Don’t tell my Marine husband that I just said our 17 lb dog is the main protector of our home. I’m thinking my Military hunk’s feathers would be ruffled.
Anyway, I LOVE my dog to pieces, and for those who have read some of my past work, Melvin is one of my coping tools for my depression and anxiety. Animals, especially dogs, are great that way because they are very atuned to emotions and moods. And they’re very loyal. On a mother’s note, he’s also my baby girl’s bestie. They play together and giggle A LOT. Melvin is definitely part of the family 100%.
Which brings me to the topic of this post at hand. People have asked me how I prepped the Melv-dawg for the birth of baby girl. I thought I’d make a list for any other expectant mommies whose pup holds a special place in her heart. I do have to say, though, I am by no means a professional dog trainer. These are just things that have worked in my home but may not work in someone else’s home.
- Firstly, for anybody who has a dog, it’s very important to remember that they are PACK ANIMALS. They understand they are part of the family and will love you and be loyal to you- BUT- it is their instinct to view it in terms of pack, which means there is a hierarchy. And as a pet, it is important they know they are at “the bottom” of the hierarchy. This doesn’t mean you kick the dog around or be cruel, instead it means that you teach your dog to be loyal, protect his “pack members” (aka his family) and to obey the boundaries and rules you give him. Dogs NEED boundaries. (Just like kids but that’s a different topic) If you don’t give your dog boundaries they will constantly feel like they have to provide their own boundaries which could result in a battle for the alpha position. Melvin knows where he is in the pack. Funnily enough, even though my husband is the head of the house, in Melvin’s mind, I’m the alpha. I am a stay at home mom so I am always with him, I take him for the most walks, and I am the supplier of food. I also just bonded with him immensely from the get go.
Ok. So. Here are a few things I did for Melvin before baby girl was born:
- We gave him a specific area for his bed. I like to call it “Melvin’s apartment” because I’m dumb and weird like that. But it is a specific area that we haven’t moved that Melvin knows he can always go to.
- In my last trimester I would sit with Melvin and pull his ears and whiskers. It sounds slightly mean, and maybe I am, but I know children have a destructive curious nature so I wanted to prepare him for being poked and prodded and to teach him to be still and do nothing. Obviously if baby girl is pulling his tail I will jump in immediately, but Melvin has been very gentle with her despite her… *curiosity*. I would also randomly *cry out* when it was quiet in the house to get him used to less pleasant noises. Yes. I looked like a raving lunatic considering I was 9 months pregnant, waddling around in 90 degree weather making newborn crying noises. You can imagine the dignity and grace I held myself with.
- When we brought baby girl home from the hospital we made sure we didn’t keep her “far away”. We wanted Melvin to associate her with happiness. We started by letting him smell her feet right when we walked in the door. And every day we would sit and hold her and let him come up and take a sniff for a minute or so. As she grew older we would let him sit next to her and be on the floor next to her during her tummy time. He wasn’t allowed on the blanket she would lay on, but he would lay right next to the blanket. This was all heavily supervised of course.
- Now baby girl is almost 11 months old. They play and explore together and I will give her a treat to give to Melvs. Sometimes I’ll put her hand around the tennis ball to throw to play fetch.
Just remember though, all animals have instinct which can be a good and bad thing. They will be very loyal, but you never know when an accident could happen. Which is why I ALWAYS suggest you be right there when your child and pet are playing.
Honestly my biggest problem is keeping baby girl from eating dog food…. Any baby proofing suggestions?!? #shesbuildingherimmunesystem?