As soon as we hear a knock at our door, we automatically wonder who it is and why they are calling on us.
Our dogs are no different and in times of uncertainty, they may react in way that we’d prefer them not to. For example, a new baby in the home may mean that the family dog feels more unsettled, protective or confused and an unexpected visitor should be treated with care.
Over the last few weeks, I have been privileged enough to deliver our Be Dog Smart messages to midwives and health visitors from Darlington, Middlesbrough and Newcastle. The invaluable work these health professionals carry out in our communities is essential and I was keen to hear their experiences when entering family homes that have dogs.
In times of great change, it can be easy to forget about our dogs – especially when a new-born baby needs, feeding, winding, changing… the list really is endless.
When I gave birth to my twin boys 5 years ago, my dog Nellie was 9 years old. I was conscious that this time would mean big adjustments not only to my life, but to hers as well.
I found preparation to be the key to making the transition to a family with two babies as easy as possible for Nellie. Even simple things such as having baby-related items present early on was a help. I also used my pregnancy to brush up on her training and re-introduce a crate in the kitchen so that she had her own ‘safe’ place where she could rest undisturbed.
It was great to be able to pass this knowledge on to those working closely with expectant parents as well as some information that will help them feel safer when working in homes with dogs.
We all know that owning a dog can be hard work but the rewards we gain when watching our children grow and learn from them are priceless. I hope the sessions have provided the amazing staff working for our NHS the tools they need to advise new parents, ensuring that the exciting new stage of their family-life is pleasant for everyone (dogs included!).