Cocker Spaniel and Baby Introductions
I have a 3 year old cocker spaniel who at the moment is very good and enjoys lots of cuddles, which isn't a problem and he will still get lots of attention, but I am due to have our first baby at the end of March and his routine will change and he will no longer be the baby.
I have heard of lots of ways about what to do when bringing the baby home and introductions to avoid additional stress to the dog or jealously, for example: giving him a baby blanket to sniff before coming into the house, first meeting outside in a neutral place before going home together.
I was wondering if you had any suggestions on introductions and any ideas on how to prepare our very bouncy cocker spaniel for the new arrival so that he isn't too put out, stressed or jealous?
He loves soft toys and normally they have all been his but we have placed a few in the nursery and around the house and although he has been interested and occasionally stolen one or two we have placed them back and said no and he seems to be ignoring them but obviously when the little one is playing with it, it might seem more appealing. He has lots of soft toys so is it just a case of playing with his toys and with him more?
I know a lot of this we will just have to learn but any tips greatly appreciated, he is a wonderful dog and want to ensure he is happy with our new addition.
Thanks in advance.
Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)
Hello - what an exciting time! It sounds like you've already done your research and know what needs to be done, but I'd like to add one or two points.
First of all, if you've not already done so, I'd establish and maintain pack leadership. Your cocker should understand that you are his pack leader and the rest of your family (including your baby) are above him in the hierarchy.
He must also be so well trained that he responds to any obedience command first time. If he doesn't it wouldn't hurt to practice a few commands until he's fully compliant.
It's a personal choice, but I wouldn't allow any dog into a nursery. If you decide to adopt this stance, make sure he understands that this room is off limits at all times, or at least until he's invited inside.
You've already mentioned a blanket with the baby's scent, which is a great idea, but don't let him have it, let him know the blanket belongs to you, not him. Allow him to sniff if from afar, and your baby's scent will be familiar to him before the baby arrives home.
You might like to try wrapping a doll in a baby blanket and leaving it on the floor. If the dog goes near it, he's to be corrected. It's best the learns that he can't even go and smell it. Keep practicing this until you're confident your pet will respect your wishes and leave it.
Something I would heartily recommend is playing a CD with the sound of a baby crying, just to get him used to this before the baby arrives. Perhaps you have friend with a baby who'd do some recordings for you?
You're also aware that your dog mustn't feel neglected or left out, and I'm sure that won't happen.
When you arrive home with your baby, greet your dog calmly, but without the baby.
Before introducing your dog to your new baby, make sure he's had a long walk, with plenty of off lead activity to tire him out.
Next, take your baby and sit in the lounge. Ask someone to bring in the dog (if he's energetic or lively, it may be best if he's on a short but loose lead) and ask him to lie down and stay a couple of meters away from you.
If your Cocker won't lie still you may have to consider crating him with a Kong and some peanut butter to keep him quiet.
Don't allow the dog to sniff your baby just yet - he'll manage just fine from where he is (and because it was on the blanket, the baby's scent will be familiar to him). Let him just lie and watch and be part of the family.
Once your Cocker is used to having the baby around, you may want to allow him to get closer and sniff the baby.
Rather than me repeating it here, I recommend you take a look at this article on another website, I think the advice is good and it looks really helpful. You'll find the site at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/introducing-your-dog-your-new-baby.
Best of luck!