Our dog’s world was turned upside down after the birth of our son. And I mean, I get it. As the oldest of 4 kids, I too had a difficult time sharing the love when my siblings entered the picture. Thankfully he hasn’t done anything too destructive. But, he’s certainly developed some new quirky behaviors now that he is no longer the only child:
1. “Protector of the Realm” Syndrome
Our dog has always been very sweet and loving. Walks in the neighborhood would take forever because he would have to greet every person and dog passing by. Since having our son, though, that friendly demeanor has changed.
When we are at home, he is loving, fiercely loyal, and always tries to give our son kisses. Unless he sees an animal on TV, which sends him in a frenzy, barking with paws up on the TV stand. And then there are the walks outside…Even when we reassure him we are safe, he just can’t seem to tame his protective energy. It’s certainly embarrassing when a neighbor calmly greets us with a friendly hello, only to be met with intense barking.
If it’s a person or a dog he has already met he has no problem being friendly. . But when it comes to new encounters…he is on guard and ready for battle! Maybe it was all the Game of Thrones episodes he watched with us while I was pregnant, but he has taken it upon himself to become “protector of the realm,” in our family.
2. He has forgotten his size
When our dog was a tiny pup, he was so cuddly and always wanted to be in our laps. But once he entered his adolescence, he preferred to do his own thing. Fast forward a few years to our son being born and jealousy has him reverting back to his puppy ways.
What does this look like? Our now fifty-pound dog has convinced himself that he is the same size as our infant son. Without invitation, he will try to position himself on whoever’s lap is not occupied by our baby, despite not being able to fit. This can be both hilarious and uncomfortable.
3. He wants to be included in everything, and I mean EVERYTHING
Wherever I go in the house, my pup is sure to follow. Whether I’m cooking in the kitchen, taking a nap, or playing with our son in the nursery, he is right there with me.
It’s incredibly sweet, but can get reaaallly strange. Especially when I’m breastfeeding my son. Let me paint a picture: When I’m sitting on the couch trying to nurse, our dog lays his large body behind my neck, with his head resting on my opposite shoulder trying to observe what is going on. Sometimes, he even starts licking my son’s head!
For us, we’ve started to adjust. We started strategically going on walks during off-peak dog walking times or double-teaming so one of us carries our son while the other is on dog duty. We also started to make sure we give our pup extra love and attention, so he feels included in our growing family. And, of course, it also means asking for—and accepting help from—friends and family.
Raising a dog and a baby at the same time is definitely a challenge, but it can also be a really heartwarming experience. There definitely are moments of frustration. . . especially when barking, crying, and general lack of sleep seem to collide at once. But, with A LOT of patience and flexibility we have started to embrace and settle into our new normal. Except for our dog’s need to watch while I breastfeed. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.