I have a 3-year old Yorkie named Princess (who has always been our baby). We just found out we have twin boys on the way. How do I get Princess ready for the new babies and how do I make sure they are safe around her? Princess has always been a little possessive of me so I’m kind of worried. Do you have any advice?
CGC ANSWER: First of all, congratulations on your twins! This will be such an exciting time in your life. Here are some tips for ensuring that Princess and the new babies have a happy, healthy relationship.
1. Training: Ideally, as soon as parents-to-be know that a baby will be coming into the family, if it hasn’t been done before, the canine family member should be provided with some training. Behaviors such as sit, down, stay, and “back up” are very helpful when it comes to managing a dog around your new infants.
2. Getting to Know You: When the babies arrive in the hospital, before they come home, have a family member bring home a blanket or shirt from the babies so that Princess can become familiar with their scents.
3. Establish the Rules: Before the twins come home, think about if you need to work on any changes with regard to Princess. For example, if she is sleeping in your bed, now is the time to introduce her to her own brand new bed if you’re planning on giving Princess a different place to sleep.
4. Introduce the Dog to Baby items: The babies will have new swings, rocking seats, and toys. As soon as possible, show Princess the new items so that she has seen the swing moving before there is a baby in it, and she knows what it means when you say “Leave it!” when it comes to baby toys.
5. Get Ready for Crying: If Princess is sound-sensitive and you think she may be nervous when the babies cry, you can expose her to crying baby sounds via a CD. Starting with quieter cries, you can gradually crank up the sound until Princess is a pro at listening to a wailing baby…or two. See www.preparingfido.com for a baby-sounds CD.
6. Dog Meets Baby: Princess will be curious and anxious to meet the new members of his family. To make sure she doesn’t jump on you when you come home from the hospital, it is a good idea for you to get in the room and be sitting when Princess comes in to meet the twins for the first time. If she is a very active dog, have a helper bring Princess into the room on a leash and praise her for being calm and well-behaved.
7. Maintain the Dog’s Exercise and Play: Whenever there are not one, but two new babies, it is common for all of the attention to be on them. Make sure Princess still gets daily exercise and play sessions. This is extremely important for having a calm, mellow dog. If you just can’t do it all, consider getting a temporary personal assistant for Princess. There might be a neighborhood teenager who would be happy to take a dog for a walk and play with her.
Finally, the AKC Canine Good Citizen Responsible Dog Owners Pledge advises that children and dogs should always be supervised when together.