Is your dog stressed or anxious since having a baby? The impact Baby #3 has had on Cooper and the importance of preparing your dog for a baby…

It’s been a big few months for our Dog, Cooper. In short, our third baby has been a big adjustment for him. We try so hard to prepare our dogs for our first babies, but this has really taught me how important it is to prepare them each time.

Is your dog stressed or anxious since having a baby? The impact Baby #3 has had on Cooper and the importance of preparing your dog for a baby…

Our Story

Cooper is walked every day, usually a big one-two hour walk, with lots of sniffing and a few off lead plays a week. We are also home a lot so he has company. But after bringing Brooklyn home from the hospital, life has got even more busy and chaotic. Cooper still gets his regular daily walk, but my energy levels are quite  low and I just don’t have the energy to play with him as much as I used to. I must add in that on top of having a baby, I also stopped dog walking and dog minding a few months before Brooklyn was born, which is what I was doing for work. And this was something Cooper absolutely loved. So the combination of missing having his dogs friends over all the time and a new baby has made him seem a little sad and even a bit bored.

Is your dog stressed or anxious since having a baby? The impact Baby #3 has had on Cooper and the importance of preparing your dog for a baby…

Cooper at his happiest playing with his friends

Is your dog stressed or anxious since having a baby? The impact Baby #3 has had on Cooper and the importance of preparing your dog for a baby…

Cooper out on one of his first walks with baby #3 – Brooklyn

It doesn’t just come down to us as the dog parents either. It’s also our kids. Harper, my oldest, has grown up very much in love with Cooper and giving him lots of daily attention and affection. But she is also super maternal and had been asking for a baby for so long, that as soon as Brooklyn was born her focus seriously shifted to the baby. And poor Cooper really noticed it. I have actually had to remind her to still give attention to her beautiful dog. I think this has been one of the biggest adjustments for Coop.

Is your dog stressed or anxious since having a baby? The impact Baby #3 has had on Cooper and the importance of preparing your dog for a baby…

Harper and Cooper share a very special bond

Is your dog stressed or anxious since having a baby? The impact Baby #3 has had on Cooper and the importance of preparing your dog for a baby…

The kids attention has seriously shifted to the baby – they love him so much!

On top of all of that we have been back and forth from the vet with Cooper, he had three hotspots within the first 8 weeks of bringing Brooks home. I don’t think it takes a genius to work out that there must be some correlation between the two. In case you are wondering what a hot spot is – hotspots are caused when a dog continually chews or irritates a particular spot, causing it to get irritated and sometimes infected. So if you think about it, if you have an itch, and then you are a bit stressed out or bored, you are more likely to have a go at it. Cooper has always been a sensitive skinned dog, but he hasn’t been prone to hotspots until now. The vet thinks there is definitely an element of irritation, allergies etc. but she also thinks (and I agree) that he might be a little stressed, anxious or bored since we’ve had Brooks. Although, in saying that, he doesn’t appear to be obviously stressed.

Is your dog stressed or anxious since having a baby? The impact Baby #3 has had on Cooper and the importance of preparing your dog for a baby…

Poor Coop had the bucket on for so long with his reoccurring hot spots

Preparing your dog for consecutive babies…

All of this got me thinking… I write a blog all about preparing our dogs for babies, and yet, here I am with a dog who seems a bit stressed out since having our third baby. I wonder if it’s because I didn’t use all my tactics as I was content that he had been so good with the transition with the other two kids?

 

So my advice to you guys is to read this article, Preparing your dog for your new baby , and implement all these steps even for consecutive babies. I think that’s where we messed up. So please learn from my mistakes. And make sure to involve the whole family in it – other kids too. As your attention will be focused on the new baby, you must also reiterate the importance of safety around your older children and your dog and always make sure your dog has a safe quiet place to escape if they need.

 

Given I may not have prepared my dog correctly this time, plus what the vet had said about Cooper maybe being a bit anxious and stressed, I reached out to my “dog” friends, Dr Kate Mornement (Animal Behaviourist and Consultant) and Laura Mundy (dog behaviourist and trainer) to check in for some advice on what to do moving forwards…

Is your dog stressed or anxious since having a baby? The impact Baby #3 has had on Cooper and the importance of preparing your dog for a baby…

Tummy time for the boys. Always keeping it a positive experience for Cooper when he is around Brooklyn

How to help your dog if they are stressed or anxious after having a baby

Dr Kate Mornement (Animal Behaviourist and Consultant)

“Poor Cooper! I see this a lot in dogs who had their people all (or mostly) to themselves before a new baby arrived. It’s a big adjustment for them. Their routine completely changes and the baby becomes the centre of everyone’s attentions. Babies and young children can grate on their nerves (noise, unwanted interaction etc) just like they can with us parents! I suggest giving Coop some quiet time away from the kids (with you if possible) or in a separate area of the house where he can rest and relax without loud noise and crazy kids. We do this for our dogs too! I’d also try increase the positive associations with Harper and Paxton by having them feed Coop his meals, give him high value treats for good behaviour, such as sitting, dropping etc. I’d also encourage you to teach the kids to do a ‘consent test’ when they want to pat or interact with Coop. We tend to assume dogs love pats from anyone all of the time when in reality some don’t. A consent test involves asking Coop if he’s like a pat or to interact by calling him over rather than going to him. If he comes to you (or the children) give him a short pat on the chest or scratch under the chin and then stop. What does Coop do? If he tries to initiate more interaction or pats he’s saying “yes please, I’d like a pat” whereas if he does nothing or walks away he’s saying “no thank you, I don’t feel like a pat right now. You could also try Zylkene to help with anxiety and a supplement such as Inside-Out to promote Coop’s gut health. Research shows that stress and anxiety can lead to poor gut health and associated illnesses so supporting optimal gut health is important. If these measures don’t help get me out for a behaviour consult! I can often see things when in the home that aren’t obvious to the owner. Hope this helps!”

Laura Mundy (dog behaviourist and trainer)

“Finding ways to give Cooper some of the things he enjoyed before the latest addition would be great to bring back into his life. So for him, increasing play dates if possible and anything that you feel makes him ‘happy’. Just keep in mind that play dates aren’t for every dog but for Cooper it was the one thing you mentioned that he LOVED before baby #3 arrived so I definitely think it’s something to bring back. Even just that one on one time with you I’m sure he misses so finding a way to maintain that bond and quality time between you and he would be nice too. And of course as Kate mentioned, it is crucial that Cooper has a safe place to retreat too. In regards to hotspots, I’m not a vet but they are exacerbated by scratching and licking and these behaviours are also a sign of stress so there is a possibility that they could be linked. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s triggering all these things. It could just be the stress of lots of things combined. A lot of dogs don’t cope too well with changes to the family.”

 

What we are doing to help Cooper and my advice to you

Since receiving this wonderful advice, despite being a tired mama, I have made a big effort to prioritise special one-on-one time with Cooper. On the weekends, when my hubby is around, I sneak out for a walk, just Cooper and I (no sleeping baby in the pram – just he and I). And he absolutely loves it. I’ve also increased his play dates with other dogs that I know he loves as this is when he is his happiest. I am lucky to have a few of my good friends who also have just had babies, who have dogs, so they sometimes come over with their baby and dog. It’s a win win, us mamas and babas get to catch up and the dogs get to play too. Cooper prefers to play with other dogs or a game of tug of war with us than getting big cuddles. So find what your dog loves, and what makes them happy and despite your total exhaustion, try your best to give them a little time each day with that one thing that makes them SO happy.

Is your dog stressed or anxious since having a baby? The impact Baby #3 has had on Cooper and the importance of preparing your dog for a baby…

Cooper and my friends dog Hank, having a play date in the garden while our bubs hang out together

Is your dog stressed or anxious since having a baby? The impact Baby #3 has had on Cooper and the importance of preparing your dog for a baby…

One-on-one time with my boy!

In Conclusion

Baby #3 has been the hardest on Cooper so we are making a conscious effort to make him feel loved and adored and not forgotten about. We sometimes forget how much change can impact our dogs, a lot of dogs don’t cope too well with changes to the family. And when life gets hectic it can be hard to find the time. But it is important. It’s definitely been a big learning curve for me and is still a work in progress.

 

** And please, no matter how much you trust your dog, always ensure the dog and child are supervised when together.

 

Lastly, it is so important to make sure the introduction of your dog and all your babies goes smoothly, so make sure to have a read of my post Introducing your Dog to your New Baby.

 

Let me know if you have any more questions on this and I’d be happy to help.

You can now buy our favourite training treats in the DOG section on our Online Shop so make sure to check it out.

Mel xox

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. I will not be liable for anything that happens to your dog or children by following my advice and tips. If you have real concerns or worries about your dog and/or safety of your children, please seek out a professional to come and assess the situation.

 


NEVER MISS A COOPER AND KIDS POST



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