Resources For families with dogs and babies!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mixed emotions flow with pregnancy glow!

One of the hardest realizations for a new mom to be is coming to terms that the relationship she has with her dog now pales in comparison to the relationship she has with her unborn child. Priorities have shifted, and that can leave mom anxious and unsure of where her dog will fit in when the baby comes, and how she will handle the dramatic change that is about to occur.
I began struggling with this when I first found out I was pregnant, well around 3 days after to be exact, when morning sickness reared its ugly head and it was all I could do to get out of bed. All of a sudden, my beloved canine friends were in the backseat, and I didn't care if they had eaten or not, I had to get to the bathroom NOW! Their jumping, barking, whining, and even playful behavior all looked like red flags to me, whereas before they were endearing qualities. I knew I had work ahead of me, and felt worried that I wouldn't be able to handle three dogs and a career and a new baby.
I would love to say that those feelings have gone away, and that after working with my dogs with the dogs and storks exercises (that I so regularly teach other expecting moms), I feel 100% sure that I am ready for life with three dogs and a baby. But the truth is I am not. I have three months left to go in my pregnancy, and every day I work with each of my dogs to help get them, and myself ready for our baby girl. They have come a long way, and so have I. They have learned new skills that will be essential and helpful, and I have come to terms with the new relationship I now have with them. I love them, care for them, and cherish them, but I have accepted that my love for them will never reach the level of love I have for my child, and THAT'S OKAY. They are my dogs, and they will have to sleep in new areas, and not be allowed certain privileges, for the safety of the baby (and sanity of mom).
My point is, for all expecting moms who are going through the dogs and storks program, or who are struggling with this relationship shift, you must be allowed and unafraid to openly discuss and talk about these fears and feelings with your trainer/partner/ even Doctor. Even just allowing yourself to feel this way without guilt will be very important in allowing you to continue to have a great relationship with your dog after the baby is born. Learn to say what you will be comfortable with and what you won't be, and start adjusting yourself and your dog NOW. Not only will you feel relieved once your wonderful baby arrives, your dog will be less worried and much more adjusted.

Helen Nicholls, CPDT-KA, CDBC
No Monkey Business Dog Training