So you’re having a baby – or expanding your family

Yes, it’s true. I pay a dog walker take Rex out twice a week for a walk Does this strike you as ironic? It does me ☺. When I first considered opening up this business, I went to a conference where ALL of the speakers said, “If you think you are going to spend all day with your dog, you’re wrong. More likely than not, your dog will not be able to go.” I was sure they were wrong. Rex had gone to daycare his entire life and is a pretty mellow guy. Turns out, I was wrong.

In the early days, everything went well. It was Rex, I, and four dogs. Then we got five. Then six. Then ten. The dogs wanted to say hi to me, and Rex wanted them to know I was his. It got to the point where Rex wasn’t happy, my staff wasn’t happy and it affected how our guests played and interacted. The truth is that everyone pays for us to take care of THEIR dogs, and that needed to be my focus. So Rex has stopped coming. He stays with my Mom and Dad as a comfort dog a couple days a week, and walks with his best friends Cooper, Butkus and a few others for the rest of the week. Why am I sharing this with you?

You might find yourself in the same situation. Not opening a daycare, but expanding your family. New dog? New baby? New partner? All of these might mean you’ll need to help that first “baby” adjust to the newest member of the family. So, here are a couple of tips to help with that process:

• Rex was the center of my attention. Your dog may be used to the same. Rex is STILL the center of my attention (just not during the day) but your new addition is a new part of your family. They probably will be staying around for a while. It’s likely that a little “sibling rivalry” might show up. The good news is that, if you know ahead of time (e.g. a new baby), you can help your pet to adjust. Start getting them used to spending less time with you. If your pet is particularly attached to one member of the family, try and spread the wealth among the other members as well. Be careful not to drastically decrease your attention, scold or isolate your pet
• If a baby is on the way, there are a couple things you might want to do. Nail trims might become an even bigger necessity. There are different noises your dog will need to get used to (so will you ☺) Encourage friends that have kids to come over. You might want to play a recording of a baby crying or carry around a baby doll to get them used to seeing you carry something WITHOUT jumping and thinking it is a game or take away.
• Talk to them about the new addition. Yes that’s right. Talk to them. Let them know that THEY will continue to be part of the family.
• Get them used to different smells. Instead of your favorite perfume or cologne, try a sprinkle of baby powder.
• Try to keep up some of the things THEY love. If they come to daycare, let them stay in it if possible. If they are not, you might want to consider giving them time to play with THEIR friends so they can come home calm and relaxed.

What have you done? Other suggestions?