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Preparing Your Dog For Baby

  • April 16, 2018
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Preparing White border collie dog with pregnant belly bump

As I sit here, two days past my due date and wondering if my baby is ever going to come, my sweet pup is snuggled gently beneath my bump. These moments make me think “what a great dog. I cannot wait for her to meet our little one.” The thing is, I’m feeling excited for them to meet, rather than nervous, and I can largely attribute that to our prep work. Adequately preparing for baby is one of the best things you can do for your dog.

You often hear those nightmare stories about people bringing home new babies  to their unruly and misbehaved dog, who, in a few short weeks, you will see posted on Craigslist or Facebook looking for a new home “preferably without small children.” This is such a sad, but common occurrence. Most times, though, I think a little preparation can make for a smooth transition.

Here are some of the key things we did with Ava to prepare her for a life with kids.

Annoy your dog. A lot.

From the day I adopted Ava, my boyfriend (now husband) and I worked together at making sure she was tolerant of things that aren’t any dog’s favorite. We knew, err uh, I knew that someday she would be the big sister to a little one, and I wanted it to be a seamless transition. We eased into annoying her, obviously, but ultimately we practiced tugging on her ears, touching her feet, and *gently* pulling her tail. I know, that sounds bad. The thing is, though, once babies learn to grab, they GRAB. Babies don’t think “let me rub the doggie’s belly!” They instead see *floppy ear* and go for it with their teeny little death grip. Because of this, I really felt like it was important to praise Ava for tolerating these things from the very beginning.

Now, let me stress that it is NOT okay to leave your baby unattended with any dog at any time. Additionally, it is super important to teach your baby proper dog manners from the very beginning.

But, prepping your dog ahead of time for the worst will take the edge off a bit, and ensure that your dog has some level of tolerance that will not result in a bite at your child! So, pester away!

Introduce your dog to all the baby things.

I’ll even admit that I was pretty surprised and overwhelmed at all of the things that come with having a baby. There are new contraptions that vibrate, swivel, swing, and take up corners of the house that didn’t used to be occupied, big Gucci strollers that take up tons of space by the front door, and things that look like dog toys but aren’t! Oh yeah, and that bassinet that is now in the spot next to our bed where her dog bed used to be…

White Border collie dog with baby bassinet
Introducing the Swivel Bassinet

Bringing home a new baby is a big deal for dog! They aren’t the only child anymore, and introducing all of this at once can be really stressful.

It’s important to show your dog the new additions to the home so that she is comfortable with them well BEFORE the baby arrives. Let her sniff around the baby’s room. When there are new scary baby things in our house, we use the “touch” command so that Ava approaches the item, touches it with her nose, and then gets a treat/praise. This gets her excited about the objects and she learns to associate them as a good thing. Doing this familiarization NOW will make it easier when you add a crying baby to the mix.

White border collie dog with infant car seat
Taking an active role in car seat installation

Get your dog around kids.

Speaking of crying babies… it’s a sound rather difficult to simulate in your own home. We play audio clips of crying babies in our home so that Ava gets accustomed to it. In reality, though, no audio clip can accurately simulate a real-life crying baby.

If you can, ask your friends with babies to come visit your house. Do this early and often. This will familiarize your dog with babies and toddlers in small doses. They learn the smells, cries, coos, and movements before it’s happening to them 24/7. This is free, invaluable training for your dog!

White border collie dog with toddler
Play date with our friend and her kiddos

Ease off the undivided attention.

This is sad too, I know. Our dogs are our babies, and we love them and spoil them to no end.

However, the reality of the situation is that a new baby changes things. They become your number one priority because they are 100% dependent on you. Inevitably, this takes some time away from your dog. This doesn’t mean you care less about your dog or anything like that, it’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

So, to make sure your dog does not get jealous or depressed, (which some dogs do), you need to start setting boundaries with your dog now. Don’t let them onto the couch unless you invite them up. Make sure they are crate trained and get them used to some down-time in the crate. Try to do things around the house without stopping to play or pet your dog every time they look at you. At the same time, remember to stick to any routine that you might already have with your dog, and include them in the new things, so that they don’t feel exiled.

Don’t forget to praise them for being a good dog. These are big changes and they will need some time to adjust as well.

I hope that some these tips will help you as you begin to prepare your dog for the new addition! Stay tuned for more AFTER our baby arrives about how things are going. Ciao!

White border collie dog with baby clothes
New baby smells include: Dreft
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Family Lifestyle

Do Dogs Understand Pregnancy?

  • February 20, 2018
White Border collie Dog and Pregnancy Test

From the day I saw those two pink lines show up on the home pregnancy test, I swear Ava knew something was up.

I used to be skeptical that dogs could possibly understand pregnancy, but over the last few months of watching my dog adjust to my mine, I’ve become a believer! While “understand” is a strong word to use about dogs grasping the actual concept of pregnancy, their behavior does change, so there’s got to be something behind that!

Dogs are notoriously very in-tune to their masters. They pick up on emotions, physical changes, scents, and stressors. Guess what pregnancy includes? A whole lot of emotions, stressors, physical and hormonal changes!

White border collie dog laying on floor
Waiting for mom’s next move

So whether or not they actually understand pregnancy is one thing. But they definitely know that something is up! Here are a few of the things that Ava has been up to these past 8 months that confirm my suspicions.

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Dog Friendly Lifestyle

Here’s what’s happening!

  • February 11, 2018
Montepulciano Italy at Sunset

It’s officially the dead of winter and I’m thinking to myself, “I haven’t blogged in months.” Seriously, months. (That’s a sure-fire way for your blog to fail, Michelle, come on!)  Anyway, since we last spoke, a lot has been happening in our lives, but for now I will keep this short and sweet.

We’ve traveled, yes, but currently our travel bug is taking a short sabbatical.

Here’s a quick recap on some of our recent trips that brought 2017 to an end.

Small Streets of Italy
Wandering the streets of Civita de Bagnoregio, Umbria.
Italian hillscape
Look at that view! The landscape isn’t bad, either.
Orvieto Bell Tower
Climbing the bell tower in Orvieto, Italy.

Sometimes the best views are from the road…

Window view of Umbria, Italy
Admiring the hill country of Umbria, Italy.


I’m going to be honest, though. In the last few months, my focus has really shifted, and the blog sort of fell to the wayside with all of the other things I have been up to!

Here’s a sneak peak of what has been keeping us all so busy…

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Dog Friendly Travel

Beach Days With Fido

  • September 9, 2017
Tropea Italy Beach

Our dog loves the beach. Like, when her feet hit the sand she sort of freaks out and gets the “zoomies” as we like to call them. She chases the surf and digs and rolls in the sand. (A Type-A dog mom’s worst nightmare!)

Our homes in Southern Spain and the North Eastern United States fared well for early morning beach walks and off-leash beach running. Wide open spaces and crisp morning beach breezes. Ahh the memories.

Unfortunately our set up here in Italy isn’t quite as ideal! We don’t live walking distance to the beach and even if we did, the beaches just aren’t the same. Most are pebble beaches ridden with tourists, more debris than I feel should be at the beach, and are packed out with private beach clubs. …I digress…  ANYWAY.

Last week, though, Ava got to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Tropea. I don’t know who loved it more, me or her.

With the summer heat waning and the crowds dissipating a bit, it is THE perfect time to bring fido! If you didn’t already realize, summer is quickly coming to an end-and now is the time to get your last beach trips in.

Just remember that bringing fido to the beach is sort of like bringing a toddler. You need more than just a towel and your bathing suit. Here are few handy reminders for having a smooth and enjoyable beach day with your pup!

  • Bring a shade source
  • Protect those paws
  • Bring lots of water
  • Bring a stake
  • Get them wet
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Dog Friendly Travel

Why Training is Important for Dogs Who Travel

  • July 28, 2017
White border collie dog training in tuscany, italy
Ever stand in a busy square and see a dog walking flawlessly next to its owner and think, “How is that dog so well-behaved? …[Rover] could never do that.”
I still have these thoughts from time to time. I admittedly get dog-envy when I see other dogs’ high levels of training and obedience. Imagine trying to take an unruly, hyperactive dog who doesn’t listen into a shop piled high with hand-painted ceramics. That would be a disaster, right? It would make taking fido MUCH more stressful.  
So, as I begin to tell you about the logistics of taking your dog everywhere you go, I think it’s important to stress the major factor in making traveling with fido possible: Training!

 

Here are 5 things you can start doing now to make your life and future travels with fido a whole lot easier.

 

  1. Get them used to people
  2. Teach impulse control
  3. Practice leash walking
  4. Kick their separation anxiety
  5. Expose them to weird stuff
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